Dr. George Fischbeck: Dynamic Science Teacher and TV Weatherman


imagesThere are many fine examples of talented educators making a mark in fields outside of education. A notable example of this is George Richard Fischbeck, a former science teacher who became a well-known television weatherman in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in Los Angeles, California.

George was born on July 22, 1922, in the small town of Wallington, New Jersey, and raised in Farmingdale, New Jersey. The oldest of four children, he was the son of George and Johanna (Mohlenhoff) Fischbeck. His father was a farmer and his mother was a teacher.

Always an avid student of nature, George first became interested in meteorology when he was stationed in Hawaii with the US Army during World War II and the Air National Guard during the Korean War. Once he was discharged, George attended the University of New Mexico, where he earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in education. Then he worked in Albuquerque as a teacher in a career that spanned 23 years.
His daughter, Nancy Fischbeck of Woodland Hills, once described her father as a whirlwind of energy, and he focused it on teaching others about how nature works. “That’s what my childhood was, and why it was so exciting,” she  said. “We’d do experiments up on the roof, collect meteor fragments on the mesas in New Mexico, or make clouds in a bottle. He was such a great science teacher.”

After he retired from teaching, George launched his career as a television personality as the host of a children’s science program in Albuquerque. Known popularly throughout his 20 years on TV as “Dr. George,” he was well-known for his non-scripted and humorous broadcasts, and for his bow ties, thick-rimmed glasses, and mustache. “That was the classroom. He was the old professor and that was the look,” Nancy remembered. “The old professor with the mustache, glasses, and pointer.”

Dr. Fischebeck could see the obvious similarities between his two careers. “I come from a family of teachers, and I’ll tell you one thing about teaching, if you can get a kid’s attention you can teach them anything,” he once said during an interview. “You’ve got to do whatever you can to make sure they’re listening to you and not doing anything else. And then you can teach them.” It was a strategy that also worked with his television audiences.

For his service to youth, George garnered a Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America in 1979.  He was honored again in 2003 when he was given the Los Angeles Area Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He was given an honorary doctorate in humanities from Albuquerque University.

George retired from television in 1997. Once he retired, he became a guest speaker in Los Angeles schools, served as a volunteer with the Los Angeles Zoo, and worked with the Los Angeles Police Department Volunteer Surveillance Team. This amazing educator and television personality passed away from natural causes on March 25, 2015, at the age of 92.

Harlan Kredit: Award-Winning Biology Teacher and Conservation Ecologist

thVery often remarkable educators extend their talents well beyond the classroom. Such is the case with Harlan Kredit, an award-winning high school biology teacher from the state of Washington.

Harlan was born and raised near Fishtrap Creek in Lynden, Washington. Following his high school graduation, he attended Calvin College, a liberal arts college located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he graduated in 1961. Later, Harlan earned his master’s degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Harlan taught science in Hudsonville, Michigan from 1962 to 1972. In 1973, he returned to Whatcom County in Washington and accepted a position as a biology teacher at Lynden Christian High School in Bellingham. In the classroom, Harlan fosters an investigative approach to curriculum, and emphasizes leadership and fish and wildlife conservation. “My goal each year is to challenge every class with a special project, which, due to their effort, becomes something they own—that is the ‘hook’ I use to engage them. It also becomes a means of giving something back to the community, both now and in the future,” Harlan once expounded. “Using the outdoors as a major part of my teaching focus blends with the interests of the students, is real science, and the excitement of the students has validated that approach.” Harlan has organized his students in a salmon restoration project, a tree planting project, and a litter disposal campaign in his home town.

In addition to teaching, Harlan spends his summers as a ranger naturalist and wildfire fighter at Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, and he has also served the National Park Service as a photographer. Furthermore, Harlan educates fellow teachers at the American Wilderness Leadership School in Jackson, Wyoming.

Harlan has been recognized with over twenty-five awards and honors for his work as an educator and as a  in conservation ecologist, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and the National Conservation Teacher of the Year in 2004. In 2005, he received a Walt Disney Company Teacher Award. Additionally, Harlan has been inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.

Digital Story: American Veteran and Chalkboard Hero Henry Alvin Cameron


Here is a digital story about American veteran and Chalkboard hero Henry Alvin Cameron, a science teacher from Nashville, Tennessee. Enjoy!

To read more about this remarkable educator, see my book, Chalkboard Heroes, available on Amazon.com or on the website for Barnes and Noble.

Have a wonderful July 4 celebration!


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.

Science teacher Ann Mah also serves in the Kansas House of Representatives

28 Ann MahOften talented educators also become accomplished politicians. This is true of Ann E. Mah, a high school teacher who was also elected as a Democrat to the Kansas House of Representatives.

Ann was born on May 5, 1951, in Clay Center, Kansas. Her parents were Wayne and Evelyn Clark. Young Ann was raised in Haysville near Wichita, where her father was a machinist at Boeing and her mother was a public school teacher.

Ann graduated from Haysville Campus High School.  She earned her bachelor’s degree from Emporia State University in 1973 and her master’s degree from Emporia in 1978. She served as a high school science teacher in Chase County public schools from 1973-1978, and as a teacher in Emporia public schools from 1977-1979.

Ann was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 2005. While in office, Ann represented the 53rd district. She served on the committees for education, higher education, and local government. She also served on the Kansas Advisory Committee on Career and Technical Education in the Kansas Department of Education. She served until 2013.

Ann and her husband, Larry, have one child, a son named Cary, and one grandchild. The couple lives in Topeka, Kansas. Currently, Ann works as a trainer and motivational speaker, and is the owner of Discover! Strategies. She is a member of the Capitol Area Federated Women’s Democratic Club, Shawnee County Democrats, State Committee of the North Central Association, and serves on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Greater Topeka. Active as a community volunteer, she has also served on the United Way of Greater Topeka Board of Directors and the Shawnee Heights Public Schools Foundation Board of Directors.

In 1997, Ann was selected National Woman of the Year by the American Business Women’s Association. She was also voted the Topeka YWCA Woman of Excellence.