Harry Dame: Veteran Educator and Talented Coach

Harry A. Dame, 1920-1921

Harry A. Dame, 1920-1921

In American history, there are many notable examples of talented and dedicated educators who make their mark on the profession. This is certainly the case of Harry Dame, a public high school teacher who made his biggest mark as an athletic coach.

Harry Dame was born in Lynn, Massachusetts. As a youngster, he attended Lynn Classical High School, graduating in 1898. After his graduation, he enrolled in Springfield Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he played quarterback for the football team. Harry completed his college studies in 1900, and then he enrolled in courses at both Tufts College in Medford, Massachusetts, and Boston University.

After earning his college degree, Harry accepted his first teaching position as an athletic director at Waltham High School, in Waltham, Massachusets. Four years later Harry transferred to  the Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts, where he coached football and baseball. Some time later, he was hired to teach mathematics at nearby Everett High School. In 1909, Harry left Everett to return Waltham High School. In addition to serving as the athletic director, the veteran educator coached football and basketball.

Under Harry’s expert coaching, Waltham High’s football team finished the season undefeated in 1915. Imagine his amazement when the team was pitted against Harry’s former school, Everett High School, for the right to play Central High School in Detroit for the National Scholastic Football Championship. Unfortunately, Everett defeated Waltham 6–0 before a crowd of 12,000 spectators, an record for attendance at a high school football game in Massachusetts at the time.

Later that same year, Harry accepted a position as physical education teacher at Lynn English High School in Lynn, Massachusetts. There Harry led his football team in play against an All-Stars team composed of college and former high school players. To Harry’s dismay, the Waltham team won the game with a score of 24–6.

In the summer of 1917, when World War I was in full swing, Harry took a group of students from Lynn English to work on Sorosis Military Farm in Marblehead, Massachusetts, as part of an on-the-job program developed by an executive from the A. E. Little Co., who was also the owner of the farm. The program combined farm work with military training in an effort to increase the boys’ interest in farm work, provide them with military instruction, and assist in war production. Harry resigned from Lynn English on September 25, 1917.

From 1919 to 1922, Harry was employed as the athletic director and a coach at Western Reserve University. In addition, the veteran educator coached baseball from 1919 to 1920, basketball from 1919 to 1922, football from 1919 to 1921, and track from 1919 to 1920. 

Harry later worked at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, until his retirement in 1928.

This chalkboard champion passed away in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 7, 1933.

Katherine Kelley: High School Geometry Teacher and Beauty Pageant Winner Miss Nevada


LVI2301-K-240x300Many professional educators have earned acclaim in areas outside of the classroom. Such is the case with Katherine Kelley, a high school geometry teacher at Mojave High School in Clark County, Nevada, who is also a beauty pageant winner.

Katherine was born in Madisonville, Kentucky, on December 9, 1994. As a young teenager and student at Madisonville North Hopkins High School, she won her hometown pageant in 2009, garnering the title of Hopkins County Junior Miss. She also been an avid student of the piano since the age of ten.

After her high school graduation, Katherine enrolled in the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelors degree in international relations, cum laude. Following her college graduation, she enrolled in a masters program at the University of Nevada. While there, she was crowned Miss Summerlin (2015), and in June of that same year she captured the title of Miss Nevada. With a GPA of 4.0, Katherine was also honored with an Outstanding Academic Achievement Award. 

Despite impressing pageant judges and the audience with her classical piano performance, Katherine has said, “I don’t think I want to be a professional musician. I am a teacher in North Las Vegas. I’ve always had a love of mathematics, and I want to continue teaching it. So many students don’t love it, and I want to inspire them with it.” Her devotion to her profession is obvious. Her pageant platform was “Every Day Counts: Improving Public School Attendance.” Through this platform, Katherine intends to work towards minimizing the challenges disadvantaged children face as they progress through the school system. “I enjoy spending the day in the classroom instilling a love of mathematics in my students,” Katherine expresses. “My dream job would be to become secretary of education in Washington, D.C.,” she says.

Katherine’s win as Miss Nevada qualified her to enter the Miss America Pageant last September. In that competition, the crown went to Miss Georgia, Betty Cantrell.

Robert Parris Moses: Civil rights activist, algebra teacher, and Chalkboard Hero

New York City math teacher Robert Parris Moses was a legendary figure during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. He was the courageous teacher who orchestrated the black voter-registration efforts and the Freedom Schools made famous during the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer. This heroic educator’s revolutionary work, which was not without risk to life and limb, transformed the political power structure of entire communities.

Now, nearly forty years later, Moses is advocating yet another transformational change: the Algebra Project. Moses asserts that a deficiency in math literacy in poor neighborhoods puts impoverished children at an economic disadvantage when it comes to being able to compete successfully for jobs in the 21st century, and that this disenfranchisement is as debilitating as lack of personal liberties was prior to the Civil Rights Movement.

His solution is to organize people, community by community, school by school, to overcome the achievement gap and give impoverished children 3127[1]the tools they need to claim their share of economic enfranchisement. Moses’s book, Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project written with fellow Civil Rights worker Charles E. Cobb, Jr., can be found easily and reasonably-priced on amazon. A fascinating read for anyone who is interested in Moses’s story, either past or present. A chapter about this remarkable teacher will also be included in my second book, entitled Chalkboard Heroes: Twelve Courageous Teachers and Their Deeds of Valor.  This book is also available on amazon; click on this link to view: Chalkboard Heroes.

Amanda Curtis: High School Math Teacher and Former Member of Montana’s House of Representatives

5407fcc86f307.preview-620Many talented educators also distinguish themselves as successful politicians. A wonderful example of this is Montana’s Amanda Morse Curtis, a high school math and physics teacher who has also served in the Montana House of Representatives.

Amanda was born September 10, 1979. Her working-class childhood was anything but idyllic. When she was only four years old, her parents divorced. Amanda watched her mother struggle with mental illness. The family was poor, and at times, they had to live without utilities and rely on food stamps in order to eat. Amanda saw several members of her extended family battle with drugs and alcohol. Two weeks before her high school graduation, Amanda’s younger brother killed himself while playing Russian roulette. He was only 16.

Amanda knew that education was her ticket out of poverty. After graduating from Skyview High School, she attended Montana Technology University of the University of Montana, earning her bachelor’s of science in biology in 2002. She then attended the University of Montana Western where she earned her teaching credential.

After earning her degree, Amanda taught math and physics at Butte Central Catholic High School from 2004-2006. From 2006-2009, she taught math at Helena Middle School, and since 2009, she has taught math at Butte High School. She also served as an executive board member for the Butte Teachers Union from 2011-2012.

Amanda began her political career when she was elected to the Montana House of Representatives on November 6, 2012. Representing Butte, Montana, in House District 76, the freshman lawmaker succeeded Democrat Jon Sesso, who had been elected to the Montana Senate. While in office, she was assigned to the committees for business and labor, human services, and local government. She sponsored the Hire Montana First Act to create more jobs in her home state, and she fought for increased benefits for volunteer fire fighters and a repeal of state legislation against the gay community. She was also outspoken about gun violence, calling for background checks and better gun-control measures to be enacted. Naturally, Amanda has expressed her belief in the value of a good education. “As a high school teacher, I know the importance of investing in our students,” she said at a 2014 rally at the University of Montana. “Education is a path forward for better paying jobs and securing our economic future,” said continued.

Amanda met her husband, Kevin Curtis, at a rock-climbing store when he was training to be a speed skater. They live in a miner’s cottage in Butte with their cat, Geoff, and their dogs, Billie and Rick. The couple does not have any children.

Mark Geiger: The High School Math Teacher with International Acclaim as a Soccer Referee

There are many examples of talented educators who have also logged impressive accomplishments in athletic arenas. Such is certainly the case with Mark Geiger, a former high school math teacher who now serves as a referee for Major League Soccer in both the United States and Canada.

imagesMark was born on August 25, 1974, in Beachwood, New Jersey. After graduating from Trenton State College, Mark taught advanced placement math at Lacey Townships High School in Lanoka Harbor, Ocean County, New Jersey. In 2009, this remarkable educator was one of 103 teachers who received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. The prestigious award is given annually to the best elementary and secondary science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners were selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following a state-level selection process.

Mark earned his National Referee badge in 2003 while still teaching. He began his career as a part-time MLS referee a year later. In 2008, Geiger was added to U.S. Soccer’s International Panel of Referees, making him eligible for higher-profile international matches and requiring more travel. When he was offered a full-time, salaried position with the Professional Referee Organization, he reluctantly decided to retire from teaching. He wanted to referee international matches, and he was aware of FIFA’s preference for officials with full-time referee jobs.

Mark confesses that his experiences as a teacher has made a significant contribution to his success as a soccer referee. He once commented that math is about quantity, structure, space, and change, and that is also true of  the dynamics on the soccer field. He also remarked that maintaining order and clarity in a classroom of gifted, confident students is not that different from fairly governing the lightning-fast interplay of 22 of the world’s most gifted and talented soccer players. “When I was in the classroom, it was 25 or 30 students each with a different learning style,” he has said. “On the soccer field you have 22 different players, each with different personalities. So it’s about recognizing what’s going to work with a particular player and then implementing that.” He added, “The situations that are in the grey areas, preventing players from taking that next step, communicating with them, managing them, working with them” is what a good referee brings to the game. Sounds a lot like great teaching.

Mark is recognized as one of the best professional soccer referees in the business. He has worked the  Olympics games in 2012 and four matches during the U-20 World Cup finals in Colombia, which culminated in his officiating the championship game. The U-20 final marked the first time an American official refereed a major FIFA men’s tournament championship. Mark has also been to Morocco for FIFA’s Club World Cup, and he worked the fifth-place match between the Egyptian and the Mexican club. Later Mark served as the fourth official at the championship game. For his outstanding work as a referee, Mark was selected the Major League Soccer Referee of the Year in both 2011 and 2014.

Mark Geiger: a true chalkboard champion.