Educator Eulalia Bourne: She’s Part of the Colorful History of the West

EulaliaBourne2[1]American history is full of colorful individuals who made significant contributions to the settlement and development of the West. One such individual is teacher Eulalia Bourne. This remarkable educator, whose career spanned more than four decades, taught elementary school in rural areas, mining camps, and Indian reservations throughout Arizona during some of our country’s most challenging periods: World War I, the Depression, and World War II. This women’s libber was ahead of her time, becoming one of the very few women in her day to own and run her own cattle ranch.

Eulalia thought outside the box in many ways. Every year on the first day of school she would wear a new dress, usually blue to complement her eye color. Every day after that, she wore jeans, Western-style shirts, cowboy boots, and Stetson hats to class. She was once fired for dancing the one-step, a new jazz dance, at a birthday party some of her students attended, because the clerk of the board considered the dance indecent! She even learned to speak Spanish fluently and, when confronted with non-English-speaking students, taught her classes in Spanish, even though it was against the law to do so.

Eulalia is probably best known for producing a little classroom newspaper entitled Little Cowpunchers which featured student writings, drawings, and news stories about classroom events. Today, these little newspapers are recognized as important historical documents of Southern Arizona ranching communities from 1932 to 1943. Additionally, Eulalia published three critically-acclaimed books about her teaching and ranching experiences: Ranch Schoolteacher, Nine Months is a Year at Baboquivari School, and Woman in Levi’s. These volumes, although now out of print, can sometimes be purchased at used book stores and sometimes can be found at online sites featuring royalty-free works. The read is well-worth the search, particularly for those interested in Arizona history.

You can read about Eulalia’s intriguing life in a book entitled Skirting Traditions, published by  Arizona Press Women. You can also find a chapter about her in my first book, Chalkboard Champions.

Best New Year’s Resolutions for Teachers

I came across this really terrific article published yesterday in the Huffington Post. It was written by Dallas Rico, an educator and young adult novelist. Because the post really resonated with me, I am reprinting it here:

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The New Year’s Resolution Every Teacher Should Make

by Dallas Rico

In a week, we’ll see tons of prominent store displays and ads stacked with weight loss shakes, protein bars and supplement pills. That’s because, year after year, losing weight and getting in shape are among the top New Year’s resolutions. Inevitably, around February, many give up on that goal, just in time for all the beer and hot wings that come with Super Bowl parties.

Though I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions (given their failure rate), I do believe that we teachers are positioned to make and keep them. Why? Because that holiday break removes us from our normal day-to-day routine and affords us time to reflect on our practice. Naturally, as we spend the holidays out of the classroom, we think about how the first semester went and come up with ways to improve for the next.

Personally, I plan to develop more student-centered projects that bring their learning to life. As a Spanish teacher, I have the opportunity to make lessons more meaningful beyond worksheets and tests. I realize I can do more with that and will strive to do so next year. Perhaps you want to seek more professional development opportunities or become more involved in school programs. Maybe you want to make a better effort calling parents or returning assignments back quicker (the struggle is real).

In my years in education, I’ve seen a number of complacent teachers who are content with using the same lesson plans, assessments and materials each year. The truth is that even teachers who’ve been in the profession for over 25 years can improve in one way or another.

On the other side, the first year teacher may utterly feel overwhelmed and needing to get better at various things. That’s why every teacher can and should strive to improve in at least one way. That’s a reasonable New Year’s resolution, one that often happens naturally, but it still must be stated.

Due to the cyclical nature of education, especially if you teach the same subject and level each year, it’s easy to fall into a groove and always do the exact same thing, as if you’re an actor on a Broadway show. But I urge educators to find at least one way they can improve this year and create a plan to stick to it.

Thoughtful school administrators can also help teachers become more introspective. By introducing key school-wide initiatives, they push faculty to try new things. For instance, in a school I taught at in Los Angeles, the principal asked all teachers, even the Art, Math and P.E. teachers, to create one writing assignment within a two month period. The ultimate goal was to get students to write more and to improve the clarity of their arguments. After the window of time, all the teachers met and reflected on the process.

As a result, some, like our algebra teacher, began assigning more writing, thus, giving students more practice. Mission accomplished. Likewise, a savvy administrator can get the school to address a common issue with such an initiative.

For-profit companies set goals to make more money. Teachers set goals to get more students prepared for college and career. The better the teacher, the more prepared students will be. It all begins with saying “this year I will be a better teacher for my students by ______________.”

To view the original article, click on this link: New Year’s Resolutions for Teachers.

 

Spanish-language teacher and 2005 National Hall of Fame Inductee Marilyn Barrueta of Virginia

Marilyn_BarruetaIt is always a wonderful thing when an exceptional educator is recognized for their endeavors. The recognition inspires the rest of us to work harder. I certainly experienced such inspiration when I read the story of Marilyn Barrueta, a Spanish-language teacher from Virginia. This innovative and tireless educator was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2005, after a lengthy and illustrious career that spanned 48 years.

Marilyn was born November 28, 1935. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1957, and completed graduate work at several distinguished institutions, including Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Virginia.

For many years, Marilyn taught Spanish, Advanced Placement Spanish, and Spanish for Native Speakers at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia. Prior to working at Yorktown High, Marilyn taught English as a second language, math, and social studies at Stratford Junior High School in Virginia. Marilyn also taught summer school sessions for Arlington’s adult education program.

“She challenged me beyond just the classroom,” remembered Marilyn’s former student Julianne Koch, “and when I look back at how much I have grown in the past several years, I know much of it is because of her.”

This most impressive educator was also greatly admired by her peers, and several took the occasion of her induction to express their admiration. “Most impressive to me,” expressed Bill A. Heller, Department Chair of Perry High School, “is Marilyn’s tireless pursuit of knowledge. Through the lens of her experience, she is able to examine and evaluate the most promising new research, techniques and materials, and integrate those new findings with the very best of her vast repertoire of highly effective classroom-tested activities.”

This chalkboard champion passed away on November 4, 2010, in McLean, Virginia. She was 74 years old.

Rebecca Pawel: High school English teacher and acclaimed novelist

I love to tell stories about amazing teachers, and one that certainly fills the bill is Rebecca Pawel, a New York City high school teacher who has published four widely-acclaimed mystery novels.

PawelRebecca Pawel  was born in 1977 in New York City and raised in the Upper West Side. She once revealed that her love affair with all things Iberian began in junior high school, when she studied flamenco and classical Spanish dance. While a teenager at Stuyvesant High School, Rebecca spent a summer abroad in Madrid. Once she graduated from high school, she enrolled at Columbia University, where she majored in Spanish Language and Literature. She then attended Teachers College to earn her teaching credentials.

Rebecca began her professional career as a teacher of English, Journalism, and Spanish at the High School for Enterprise, Business, and Technology in Brooklyn. She was employed there from 2000 to 2011. Between 2011 and 2013, she served as a college advisor for High School for Services and Learning at Erasmus Hall in Flatbush. In 2013, Rebecca returned to the Graduate School of Arts and Science at Columbia University, where she is currently working on a PhD in English and Comparative Literature.

Rebecca’s detective novels are set in a time period immediately after the Spanish Civil War. Her first book, Death of a Nationalist (2005), earned an Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Author. She followed this triumph with Law of Return (2004), The Watcher in the Pine (2005), and The Summer Snow (2006), which was named one of Publisher’s Weekly Best Mysteries.

“I’ve always told stories,” Rebecca once confessed. “I dictated stories to my parents before I knew how to write them down. When I was in third grade, my dad taught me to touch-type on a Brother electronic typewriter.” The rest is history.

High school Spanish teacher Margaret Domka doubles as international soccer referee

1683023_full-lndThere are many examples of talented teachers who also distinguish themselves in arenas outside the field of education. One such educator is Margaret Domka, a high school Spanish teacher who is also a well-respected international soccer referee.

Margaret was born August 13, 1979. Originally from Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Margaret graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. For the past twelve years, she has worked as a Spanish teacher at Union Grove Union High in Union Grove, Wisconsin.

Margaret began her lifelong love affair with soccer when she was only four years old. She continued to play the sport throughout her childhood. “When I was 13, I started refereeing just as a summer job that I could have while I was in high school—a way to play soccer but have a flexible job with some money on the side,” Margaret once explained. “I never dreamed for a moment that it would take me to where it has.” During college, this exceptional athlete served as a defender on her school’s women’s soccer team. In 2000, Margaret’s senior year, the team advanced into the women’s NCAA Division III Final Four. That year, the intrepid player was named a Division III first team All-American.

After graduating from college, Margaret became the first female to officiate a game for the Milwaukee Wave. In 2007-2008, Margaret worked as a FIFA international assistant referee, and in 2010 and 2014, she worked the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups. She also worked the 2012 Portugal-based Algarve Cup championship. In 2015, Margaret was selected as a match official for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Margaret says she feels lucky to be able to referee and still work full-time in the classroom. “I’ve been fortunate. I think that refereeing is always a very good job to have with the teaching,” she declares. “I’m very fortunate to have administrators who have allowed me to continue on this journey.”