Chalkboard Champions and Hurricane Harvey: Wading into Rising Waters

As empathetic Americans look for ways to help fellow citizens forced to cope with the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Texas teachers are undoubtedly wondering what they can do to help ease the distress of their precious kids when they return to the classroom.

As usual when I hear news stories about storm damage, I am reminded of a book I read which tells the tale of a remarkable teacher who opened a school for New Orleans evacuees following Hurricane Katrina.

When surging flood waters from Hurricane Katrina forced thousands of families to flee from their homes, New Orleans residents had their minds more on survival than on whether their children would be missing school. But when a group of evacuee parents who landed in New Iberia, Louisiana, realized they would not be returning to their homes any time soon, they knew they had to find a strategy to help their children cope with their enforced and unexpected exile. They pooled their financial resources and hired a fellow refugee, teacher Paul Reynaud, to establish a one-room school for their children in an abandoned office building. The story furnishes valuable lessons for dealing with this latest example of nature’s fury.

The book is entitled Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and His Storm-Struck Students Created a School to Remember.The author of this intriguing true story is journalist Michael Tisserand, and the volume was published in 2007 by Harcourt. You can find the book on amazon.com at the following link:

For other intriguing stories about remarkable teachers in America’s sometimes turbulent history, check out my book Chalkboard Champions. You will find it on the web site for Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Dr. Kim Lawe: From Her Escape from Communist Viet Nam to Her Work in the Classroom

Here is the inspirational story of a very amazing educator, Dr. Kim Lawe. I worked with her at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Eastvale, CA, before I retired last June. In this brief video she shares a little about her family’s escape by boat from Communist Viet Nam following the fall of Saigon, and her work as an educator.

Organizing the Best of All Possible First Days

As a new school year approaches, teachers all over the country are considering ways to create the best of all possible first days. Here are a few thoughts.

Think about what you want to accomplish with your kids, right from the start. Certainly classroom management is important, but prevailing educational philosophy suggests classroom management is easiest when students are actively engaged in stimulating and meaningful activity. So avoid reading aloud a list of your classroom rules and expectations or your course syllabus. And for goodness sake, don’t plan a lecture. It’s a snore for the kids, and your throat will be sore by the end of the day.

To create a memorable first day, plan an activity that introduces your classroom values. Presumably these values would include respect for peers and working well together. Consider ice-breakers that encourage human interaction. Reward them for learning the names of their classmates. As for yourself, strive to learn the names of your students as quickly as possible so that you can greet them by name on their second day. Also, create activities that give kids opportunities to help you and their classmates get to know what is unique about them. Example activities would include a round of Two Truths and a Lie, a Shoe Pile Mingle, or Never Have I Ever.

Another oft-expressed classroom value emphasizes the joy of learning. Many teachers want their class to be an exciting adventure as they and their kids explore learning together. Crafting an activity that is interactive introduces this classroom value right from the beginning. So plan something interactive, such as a trivia game, collaborative drawing, or a scavenger hunt.

Whatever you plan for that first day, just be sure it is stimulating and engaging. The time will be well spent if the effort kicks off the school year with a sense of excitement for your class or subject. And that list of classroom rules an expectations and the course syllabus? Consider emailing these to parents before the school year begins, and have them reply that they have received it, perhaps with a simple phrase such as “I Agree.” Or use the communication as an opportunity to invite parents to dialogue with you about their child’s individual needs or concerns.

Above all, have a great year!

Teacher, librarian, and author of Chalkboard Champions Terry Lee Marzell retires

 

After a 36-year career as an English teacher and District Librarian in the Corona Norco Unified School District, Chalkboard Champions author Terry Lee Marzell retires! After being honored at the monthly meeting of her school’s Leadership Team, she bids a tearful farewell to her colleagues at Eleanor Roosevelt High School.

 

Chalkboard Champion Tevester Anderson: High school biology teacher and basketball coach

Often talented high school coaches become accomplished college-level coaches. This is certainly the case with Tevester Anderson, who spent two decades as a high school biology teacher and basketball coach and 16 years as an assistant coach at the college level before landing his first position as a Division 1 Head Coach at the age of 61.

Tevester was born February 25, 1937, in Canton, Mississippi. In 1962, he earned his bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine from Arkansas AM & N University, now known as Arkansas at Pine Bluff. In 1971, he completed the requirements for his master’s degree in biological science from North Carolina AT&T State University.

Tevester decided against a career in medicine and instead accepted a position teaching biology and coaching basketball at Canton High School, where he worked from 1962 to 1971. From 1971 to 1980 he taught at Fulton High School. As a high school coach, he was a pioneer in helping integrate high 
school sports. “I learned you can save just as many lives as a 
coach and a teacher as you can as a doctor,” he once said.

Later, Tevester worked as an Assistant Coach at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, as an Associate Coach at the University of Georgia, in Atlanta, Georgia, and, finally, as a Head Coach at both Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, and Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. During his time as Head Coach at Murray State, Tevester led his team to an overall record of 103-52 with two Ohio Valley Conference titles and two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. During his ten-year tenure at Jackson, Tevester led the Tigers to an overall record of 149-170.

This chalkboard champion retired in June, 2013. “We sincerely thank Coach Anderson for his contributions to Jackson State University,” commented Vivian Fuller, acting Athletic Director for JSU. “He is truly a professional in collegiate athletics.”