Substitute teacher and award-wining sports newscaster Drew Esocoff

Talented substitute teachers can also be considered chalkboard champions. A superb example of this is Drew Esocoff, a major network sportscaster who has also worked as a substitute school teacher.

Escoff_Drew-150x150Drew was born in 1957 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. As a teenager, he attended Thomas Jefferson High School, an all-boys institution, where he graduated in 1975. The school incorporated a local all-girls school in 1977 and was renamed Elizabeth High School.

Following his high school graduation, Drew enrolled in Colgate University, a private liberal arts university located in Hamilton, New York. There he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1979. During his college years, Drew worked as a substitute teacher at his alma mater, Elizabeth High School, where he earned money to pay his college expenses. One of his students there was New York Jets football coach Todd Bowles.

After his college graduation, Drew  worked as a sports commentator and program director for ESPN and ABC, serving as the director for such national programs as Monday Night Football, Sports Center, the NBA Finals, Triple Crown horse racing programs, and five Super Bowl broadcasts. Drew’s work has not gone unnoticed. He has won eleven prestigious Emmy Awards for his television work.

Drew currently lives in West Redding, Connecticut, with his wife and two children.

Former Nazi youth leader chooses new life as patriotic American school teacher

6a00e5537b38b68833013488768362970c-800wiSometimes individuals who have the most amazing personal stories become examples of remarkable educators. One such example is Maria Anne Hirschmann, a former Nazi youth leader who became an honored American educator.

Maria Anne Hirschmann, popularly known as Hansi, was born in Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia. As an infant, she was abandoned and raised in a foster home. When Nazi troops invaded her country in 1938, they travelled the countryside testing all the local children, even those who attended the little one-room school that fourteen-year-old Hansi attended. The child was selected to be sent to Prague to be trained as a Nazi youth leader. “For the first time, somebody actually chose me, ” Hansi once remembered. “I was the poorest kid in the village, so I could not expect to go on to high school or college. Now I thought I had caught the rainbow.” Brainwashed, the youngster pledged her allegiance to Adolph Hitler. When Germany was defeated in WWII, Hansi, by then nineteen, spent several difficult months as a prisoner in a Russian communist labor camp. One day, she simply walked out of the camp, expecting to be shot. The shot was never fired. After spending several weeks exposed to the elements, with only herbs and mushrooms to eat and sleeping under trees or bridges, Hansi found herself in American-occupied West Germany. In 1955, she immigrated to the United States with her husband and two children. In America, Hansi learned a deep appreciation for her adoptive country and came to embrace the American philosophy of freedom. She became a naturalized citizen in 1962.

Settling in California, Hansi enrolled in Pacific Union College, a Seventh-Day Adventist institution located in Napa Valley. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and psychology. Then this amazing woman became a teacher in Riverside, California, and earned distinction with her work with troubled teens and high school drop-outs. She established a cooking school for boys, instructed remedial subjects, and taught arts and crafts courses.

Hansi also authored several books. Her best-selling volume is her autobiography, Hansi: The Girl who Left the Swastika. The book has sold more than 400,000 copies in English, and has been translated into many other languages, including Russian and Polish. Her life story has also been adapted in the comic Hansi: The Girl who Loved the Swastika, published by Spire Christian Comics.

This chalkboard champion has earned honors from the Daughters of the American Revolution American Medal and the Distinguished Service Citation from the International Christian Endeavor Society.

Theater arts teacher Donald L. Leifert was also a sci fi/horror films actor

7648_7efe4ce15e731268698a14ae125931e5_centerI have often heard it said that there is a certain amount of theatrics involved in teaching. This must be true to some degree, because there are many examples of talented educators who are also successful as actors. One example of this is Donald L. Leifert, Jr., an English and theater instructor who also made a name for himself as a science fiction and horror films actor.

Donald was born on February 27, 1951, in Maryland, the son of Dolores J. and Donald L. Leifert, Sr. During the Viet Nam conflict, Donald served as a soldier in the U.S. Army. Following his stint in the army, he spent two years studying at the Douglas-Webber Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England.

Donald worked with indie director Don Dohler in such science fiction and horror film roles as the homicidal ghost in The Galaxy Invader, the contemptible lout Drago in Nightbeast, and the good-for-nothing redneck Frank Custer in The Alien Factor.

When Donald decided to change careers, he accepted a position teaching English and theater arts at the Carver School for the Arts in Baltimore County; English and journalism at Dundalk High and Catonsville High; and English and theater arts at Towson High School in Baltimore, Maryland. Donald was also a published author. He authored his biography, entitle Riggie: A Journey from 5th Street.

This exceptional educator passed away from natural causes at the young age of 59 on October 23, 2010, in Parkland, Maryland. At his passing, this chalkboard champion was remembered fondly by his former students. “He always pushed his students to be their best, because he knew we were capable of it, even when we didn’t,” remembered former student Jennifer Wallace. “He was kind, funny, and stern when he needed to be,” she said. Others agree. “As a senior in high school he would allow me to teach his beginner acting class now and then,” commented former student Jessica Wentling. “He gave to me the love of teaching, a passion that I intend to continue pursuing,” she concluded.

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.

Spanish Teacher Jose Ferrer Canales: A Puerto Rican Chalkboard Champion

canales 2The teaching profession abounds with talented and dedicated educators who have devoted their entire lives to their practice. Such is certainly the case with Jose Ferrer Canales, a high school Spanish teacher from Puerto Rico who was also an accomplished journalist, essayist, and political activist.

Jose was born in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 18, 1913, into an impoverished, working-class family. As a youngster, he attended Pedro G. Boyco Elementary School, and as a teenager, he graduated from Central Superior High School. Because of his family’s poverty, Jose worked to help support his family, even though he was still in school.

After his high school graduation, Jose enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico, completing the requirements for his bachelor’s degree in 1937. In 1944, he earned his MA in Arts. Jose accepted his first teaching position at a high school in Humacao, where he taught Spanish from 1937 to 1943. Once he earned his master’s degree, Jose was awarded a grant to continue his studies in Spanish and Latin American literature at Columbia University in New York City. While in New York, Jose taught Spanish at Hunter College.

In 1946, the veteran educator returned to his home island where he accepted a position in the Department of Humanities at the University of Puerto Rico. There he became actively involved in the island’s pro-independence movement. In 1949, when he was fired from the university because of his political activities, he relocated to the United States, where he taught at universities in Louisiana, Texas, and Washington, DC. After some years, Jose moved to Mexico, where he attended the National Autonomous University of Mexico, earning his PhD in Letters in 1952. In 1963, Jose was able to once again return to his home island and his position at the University of Puerto Rico. He pursued contributions to the field of education and the publication of numerous essays and journal articles until his retirement in 1983.

Because of his lengthy and distinguished career, Jose earned several prestigious honors. He was given the Journalist Prize from the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture in 1990. He was honored with the Prize of Honor from the Puerto Rican Athenaeum in 1994. He was also named the Humanist of the Year by the Puerto Rican Humanities Foundation in 1997.

This chalkboard champion passed away of natural causes on July 20, 2005, in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. He was 91 years old. He is interred at Villa Palmaeras Cemetery in Puerto Rico.