Duane Pomeroy: High School Social Studies Teacher and Topeka Politician

Often talented educators also distinguish themselves as public servants. This is true of Duane  Pomeroy, a high school social studies teacher and tennis coach who served for a time as the acting mayor of his home town of Topeka in Shawnee County, Kansas. Duane is pictured here on the left, following a tennis match.

11236168Duane was born in Topeka on January 1, 1952, and was raised there. His father, Elwaine Pomeroy, served sixteen years as a Kansas state senator. Duane graduated from Topeka High School in 1970. After his high school graduation, Duane enrolled at Washburn University in Topeka. There he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1978 and his teaching certificate in 1979. Interestingly, while he was working on his degrees, he served on the Topeka Unified School District 501 Board of Education for four years, from 1977 to 1981. Interestingly, Duane also served as an alternate delegate to Republican National Convention from Kansas in 1972.

Long after his service on the Board of Education, Duane accepted a position at Topeka High School where he taught government and social studies. He also served as the head coach for both the school’s tennis team and the bowling team.

Duane became a member of the Topeka City Council in January, 1993, when he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Vic Miller when Miller was elected to the Shawnee County Commission. Duane also served as the Deputy Mayor under Mayor Butch Felker. From November, 2003, to January, 2004, he served as the acting mayor when the mayor became involved in a scandal and was forced to resign. His weeks as the interim mayor were eventful. Besides overseeing the application process for appointing a new mayor, he made approximately 40 appointments and reappointments to city boards and commissions. He also handled recommendations related to streamlining expenses related to the city’s fire department.

On a personal note, Duane married Deborah Briggs, and the couple have two grown sons, Shane and Troy.

Rich Franklin: The Multi-Talented Math Teacher

RichFranklinphotoIt’s no surprise that gifted and talented educators possess expertise in fields beyond the educational sphere. This is demonstrated very well by math teacher, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight Champion, mixed martial artist, businessman, and actor Richard Jay Franklin, Jr.

Rich was born on October 5, 1974, one of two sons of Richard Sr. and Valia Franklin. Although he was born in Kentucky, he was raised in Cincinati, Ohio. His parents divorced when he was only five years old, and through subsequent marriages he acquired five additional half-siblings. As a youngster, Rich attended William Henry Harrison High School. Following his graduation, he enrolled at the University of Cincinatti, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and his master’s degree in education. After college, Rich taught mathematics for four years at Oak Hills High School in Cincinatti.

lu25005-edit-199x300During his years as an educator, Rich launched a career as a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), with a goal of fighting professionally. He left the teaching profession to pursue his goal full-time. He quickly moved up the ranks, and in 2005 earned the UFC Middleweight World Title. Following this victory, Rich accepted a position as a coach on the second season of the television show The Ultimate Fighter.

In 2003, Rich launched a clothing company with several business partners. This enterprise was named American Fighter. “The American Fighter message was about finding the fighter in each of us,” Rich once explained, “Whether you are a person battling cancer, an athlete preparing for competition, or a soldier stepping into combat, we all have a fighter in us.” In 2012, Affliction Clothing expressed an interest in American Fighter. They acquired the majority of the company to take the brand to mainstream retailers where it continues to grow. “The American Fighter name had an obvious connection with military personnel and I have always felt it is my civic duty to give back to the troops,” Rich says. “I have visited military bases all over the country, both domestic and abroad. The most recent trip was to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. In 2006, I began working with the military extensively, particularly with disabled veterans.” Specifically, Rich is an avid supporter of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) organization.

Rich made his acting debut in a film called Cyborg Soldier,  where he portrayed an escaped super soldier. In 2010 he starred in Hamill, a story inspired by the life of Matt Hamill, a deaf UFC fighter. He can also be seen playing MMA Coach Billings in the 2014 comedy Mantervention.

The multi-talented Rich Franklin: a true chalkboard champion.

Former Middle School Teacher and Pro Basketball Player Anquell McCollum

5867323Many gifted athletes share their talent and expertise with young students when they become teachers and coaches. This is certainly the case with Anquell McCollum, a professional basketball player who also served as a former junior high school computer skills teacher and university assistant basketball coach.

Anquell was born in 1973 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He graduated from E.E. Smith High School in his home town. There he played basketball, where he distinguished himself with 24 three-point field goal attempts, of which 11 were successful. Although this milestone accomplishment was broken in 2004, Anquell established a state record at the time.

After his high school graduation, Anquell enrolled in Western Carolina University, where he played as a guard for the Catamounts during the 1992–1993 and 1995–1996 seasons. In his freshman year, the 6’1″, 180 pound Anquell earned a place on the Southern Conference (SoCon) All-Freshmen Team. Between his sophomore and senior years, Anquell was selected for the All-SoCon Tournament all three years, he was a First Team All-SoCon player two years, and in 1995–1996 he was named both the Conference Player of the Year as well as the Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player. That season, Anquell averaged 25 points per game and was ranked fifth in the nation. He led the Catamounts to one of the most historic seasons in the university’s history. That was the year the university won its only Southern Conference championship.

Following his college graduation, Anquell became a professional basketball player. He first played in  France for the 1996-1997 season. From 1997-1999 he played professionally in Venezuela. In 1998 he played in both Columbia and Hong Kong. Additionally, in 2000 he played in the Dominican Republic and in the United States Basketball League for the Treasure Island Tropics. At the end of that season, Anquell retired from the game.

In 2000, Anquell returned to Western Carolina University to complete his degree in Computer Information Systems. Between 2000 and 2004, Anquell accepted a position as a computer skills teacher at Spring Lake Middle School in Spring Lake, North Carolina. He then became the Assistant Director of Admissions for Western Carolina University. In 2004–2005, this gifted athlete became an official assistant coach for the men’s basketball team at the university.

This chalkboard champion was named to the Western Carolina University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. Anguell and his wife, Marie, currently live in Cullowhee, North Carolina. They have two daughters.

High School Math Teacher and Four-Sport Coach Larry Haws: Also a Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives

LarryHaws640[1]Often times talented educaters go on to become very successful politicians. Such is the case with Larry William Haws, a high school math teacher and four-sport coach who was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Larry was born January 12, 1940, in the southwestern Minnesota town of Tracy. After he graduated from Mankato Loyola High School, he enrolled at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Biology. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and another in biology from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

After his college graduation, Larry taught at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud. He was also a youth coach for five sports: wrestling, track and field, cross-country, football, and soccer. He left his position at the high school to join the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, where he worked for 32 years. In his position there, Larry coached at both the high school and collegiate levels, where he took several teams to state and national championships. “My claim to fame,” Larry once remarked, “was I coached the reformatory wrestling team for three years. I said we weren’t very good, but we had a killer instinct.”

Larry was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in a 2005 special election held to replace Representative Joe Opatz, who had resigned to become the interim president of Central Lakes College in Brainerd. Larry had coached Opatz in wrestling when Opatz was a student. A Democrat, Larry represented District 15B in the north central part of the state. The former teacher was re-elected in 2006 and 2008. While in the House, one of the committees Larry worked on was the committee for higher education. He was also a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Finance for School District 742. Of his work in the legislature, Larry once remarked that he was proud of the work he accomplished with Governor Tim Pawlenty and Representative Dan Severson in 2007. The group passed a major veterans benefits bill on behalf of Viet Nam veterans. Many of these veterans, recalled Larry, had been youngsters he had coached when they were children.

This remarkable educator and politician was diagnosed with brain cancer in January, 2011. He passed away on March  27, 2012.

Special Education Teacher David Allen Johnson: Chalkboard Champion and Olympic Athlete

Dave-Johnson640[1]Since the Olympic Games in Sochi have dominated the news the past week, now is a great time to honor our chalkboard champions who are also accomplished Olympic athletes. One such individual is David Allen Johnson, a special education teacher from Oregon who earned a bronze medal in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.

Dave was born on April 7, 1963, in North Dakota. He grew up in Missoula, Montana, where he attended CS Porter Elementary School, Sentinel High School, and Big Sky High School. In 1980, Dave’s family moved to Corvallis, Oregon. Dave was enrolled in Crescent Valley High School, where he graduated in 1981.

Even as a child, Dave was exceptionally fit and coordinated and lifted weights from a young age. He played Little League baseball and experimented with boxing. During his adolescence, however, Dave was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter disease in both knees, a condition that kept him from participating in high school sports. Despite his condition, during his junior high year, he excelled in track, touch football, and basketball.

In his years in high school, Dave admits that he made some bad choices. “Basically, I just didn’t have a lot to do. I just got into trouble,” he once said. “There were ten of us who did things together a lot. We called ourselves the West Side Gang. We didn’t know what we doing. We just wanted to call ourselves something. We had nothing to do.” With these friends, Dave was involved in a series of petty thefts, mostly stealing soda pop and beer from local distributors, but there were also some home burglaries. One of the boys was caught and informed on the rest. When Dave went to the Olympic Games in 1992, he detailed his experiences to reporters, and later used the material for his book and speaking tour as an example on how a teenager could turn his life around.

After high school, Dave enrolled at Azuza Pacific University, a private Christian college located in Azuza, California. While there, he started to compete in decathlon events. At 6’4″, he put his innate abilities and his constant physical training to use and began setting records. Dave became a four-time national champion, and competed in the Olympic trials four times. He earned a berth on the US Olympic Team twice, first in 1988, and then again in 1992. During the 1992 competition, Dave suffered a stress fracture in his left foot on the first day of events. Despite his injury, he put on shoes that were two sizes too big, laced them up tightly, and completed anyway. Astonishingly, he won a bronze medal in the pole vault. Dave retired from competitive sports in 1997.

Dave earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1986, and completed the requirements for his master’s degree in special education in 2003. He accepted his first teaching position in 1998 as a special education resource teacher at Sierra Vista Middle School in Covina, California. In his year and a half there, Dave also served as the Head Coach for track and the Assistant Coach for football. For the next six years, Dave was a special education teacher, Head Track Coach, and Assistant Football Coach at West Albany High School in Albany, Oregon. He then spent two years as an Assistant Principal and Director of Athletics at Jefferson High School in Jefferson, Oregon, followed by a two-year stint as the Athletic Director at South Salem High School in Salem, Oregon. In June 2009, Dave was named as the Athletic Director of  Corban University, a small private college in Salem.

After three and a half years at Corban, Dave left the field of education to become a motivational speaker. He also wrote the autobiographical book Aim High – An Olympic Decathlete’s Inspiring Story, with Verne Becker. This chalkboard champion and Olympic athlete was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. Currently, Dave serves on the local Salem Keizer Education Foundation Board, raising much-needed funding for schools and teachers. He also does volunteer coaching with his local Salem Track Club, a youth track and field organization.