Inspiring Educators







August 2014
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Who hasn't once dreamed of flying?  Flying is beautiful, practical, and above all poetic.  Perhaps none has captured the grace of flying better than John Gillespe MaGee Jr. in his poem "High Flight."  There exist no such thing as a single pilot without passion for life!  Flying is passion expressed unbounded.  Yet, flying for many is grounded by the self-imposed mental gravity denying their dreams.  For many, it's lack of exposure or an opportunity.  Eagle Flight Squadron is a nonprofit organization who's mission is to fulfill the dreams of many inner city youths who would never have had the opportunity to be exposed to the field of aviation.

As you peel the layers of Eagle Flight's mission, it's not just about flying.  Its mission is a lifelong one.  For 40 years, Eagle Flight Squadron has set out to provide leadership skills, academic excellence, teamwork, build character, and promotes service.  The squadron's mission is to provide an opportunity to its students and through its rigorous curriculum, hard work, sacrifice, and dedication, produce a highly capable leader and a lifelong learner.

Joining us today is the director of Eagle Flight Squadron, Mr. Michael Chisolm.  Following the legacy of success set forth by Reverend Russell White, Michael is a former graduate of the program and has returned to the Eagle's nest to guide and nurture along each student's dreams into a reality.  Join in and listen to Michael share the success of this unique program!

Direct download: IE31_Michael_Chisolm.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 10:30pm EDT

Johnathan Livingston Seagull, The Little Prince. To Kill A Mockingbird.  Tale of Two Cities.  Being Happy!  We have all had books that were especially meaningful to us as teenagers trying to find a direction in life, and even to this day the many lessons learned about character, grit, the spirit of adventure, and appreciation for our place in the world through our readings have become more relevant as adults.  Just words, yet they continue to swirl and occupy the deep recess of our minds and continue to shape knowledge, laughter, and guidance along with added books to the library of our souls. What a beautiful process and gift to reach out, share, and inspire the many strangers of all backgrounds, age, gender, and cultures.  Just words.

Our inspiring educator is an international speaker and author from the beautiful and friendly, Australia.  His books, "Being Happy!" and "Follow Your Heart" have sold over 7 million copies worldwide in 42 languages in 69 countries!  He has spoken to corporations around the world and has made over 3000 radio and TV appearances on 5 continents.  His current book, "How Life Works", has been on the bestseller lists in SE Asia for the past 25 weeks.  I'm grateful to have Mr. Andrew Matthews on Inspiring Educators.  Please join us and see how Andrew's inspiring writings and powerful yet simple drawings have left many to become more introspective and empowered.  
Direct download: IE30-Andrew_Matthews.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 9:16pm EDT

Teach First NZ works to reduce educational inequality by developing talented individuals into highly effective teachers and inspirational leaders.  Inspired by the prestigious Teach First program in the UK and similar to the US Teach for America, Teach First NZ's mission is to find and place talented individuals in the classroom for two-year leadership development program and effect positive impact on student lives.

Our inspiring educator today is a Campus Marketing Manager for Teach First NZ, Holly Dixon.   Holly is tasked with generating interest in teaching among university students and recruiting top talents to work with TFNZ.  Join Inspiring Educators and listen as Holly provides a glimpse into the valued efforts in nascent stage of Teach First NZ.

Direct download: IE29_Holly_Dixon.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 10:11pm EDT

As an educator, it's always important to look at the big picture and question where our lessons in the classroom will take our students?  We are the messengers from the past and the gatekeeper to our students for their future.

Our Inspiring Educator today is Dr. Massimiliano Tomba.  His job is to constantly question the impact of our thoughts and actions as related to the outcome and how we process our social and political surroundings.  It's Dr. Tomba's passion to challenge his students to do more than merely regurgitate facts, but to question their very own conception of self and society.

Dr. Tomba received his Ph.D. in Political Philosophy from the University of Pisa. He is a Senior Researcher in Political Philosophy in the Department of Political and Juridical Sciences and International Studies at the University of Padova. Currently, Dr. Tomba is teaching a course on the Philosophy of Human Rights and Political Theory of Global Society for graduate students and a visiting instructor at the City University of New York (CUNY).

Direct download: IE28-Massimiliano_Tomba.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 7:34pm EDT

Suggest a topic to cover to a group of educators to teach and you'll end up with multiple lesson plans as unique as the number of teachers in the room.  Each instructor will inevitably include their personal experience and design their own unique lesson plans.   Ask educators about the essence of teaching and you'll get an answer as diverse as the population, but through it all, among the inspiring educators, there's always a common bond, a common mission, and a common passion.  We are all subversive conformists.

Today's inspiring educator is Dr. Jim Prothero.  A veteran high school and college English teacher as well as a valued friend and former colleague.  Jim is also an avid water color artist, a published author, musician, and lover of all things that is not standardized and confining.  A misfit at heart who has been forced to deal with responsibility and reality, Jim has inspired and continues to inspire a generation of young men and ladies to carry on the pen.  In the twilight of his teaching career, he shares his poignant thoughts on inspiring educators.

Direct download: IE27-Jim_Prothero.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 3:15am EDT

Teachers, parents, and mentors all find ourselves in a critical role to influence and provide guidance for our children and students.  We sometimes forget that our children and students have valued lessons to teach us a thing about life.  Our inspiring educator today is a young lady who has her sights beyond the confines and limits of our planet.

Her goal is to shoot for Mars and she just may become the first person to leave her footprints on the Red Planet.  It's not just a passing interest, but she's highly dedicated to her passionate pursuit and with an enthusiastic support by NASA and support from her father, she's certain to see her reality exceed her dreams.

Joining us today is Astronaut in training Alyssa Carson and her father Bert.  Listen in and see why NASA is taking Alyssa and others in her age group seriously and investing in their training and future.

Direct download: IE26-Alyssa_Carson.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 1:41am EDT

We often hear about teachers making personal sacrifices to ensure student success.   Perhaps, opening the class early in the morning to provide last minute help before a big test or staying late after school to assist with a science project before the weekend competition.  It may also be helping to pay a deserving student's way to his or her senior prom.

Sometimes, the problem might be so fundamental in need, it shocks the community and the nation.  Food, clothing, shelter.  The very basic necessities you and I might take for granted are the very problems some of the students in our nation face.

Our inspiring educator today is Mr. Marvin Callahan, a first grade teacher at Comanche Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  His students' problem is a fundamental one: hunger.  Fed up and unable to ignore his students' struggles, Mr. Callahan decided to do something about it and take action.

Marvin, along with school counselor,Karin Medina, initiated a backpack program for the Comanche Elementary students in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The program provides entire meals for students who need the most help on the weekend.  Every Friday,upwards of 30 families receive meals to take home, allowing them to get by the weekend.  Join us as Marvin shares the struggles of his students and the backpack program ,and during the program's lowest moment, how the community rallied together to help sustain and ensure the program's success.

Direct download: IE25-Marvin_Callahan.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 1:59am EDT

Many educators, prior to standing in front of the classroom, have held different occupations.  For some it was all part of the master plan and a natural progression to pursue their passion as educators.  For others, it was a chance meeting that would become a lifelong love and duty to serve their students and the community.  Regardless of prior experiences or backgrounds, all educators are greatly defined and shaped by their unique developing years leading up to those initial days in the classroom. 

So what if your previous background was part of an elite group of athletes? The best of the best.  Your resume reads, NFL player.  Detroit Lions. Free Safety.  What qualities and contributions does an NFL player bring to the classroom and abilities to be a charismatic and transformational teacher, to motivate his students, and facilitate the success in and outside the classroom?  Our guest and inspiring educator is Ricardo Silva.  Join us as the former Detroit Lions' free safety shares his journey staying focused on his dreams while growing up in a tough neighborhood to helping his students fulfill their dreams as a classroom teacher serving for Teach for America.

Direct download: IE24-Ricardo_Silva.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 2:47pm EDT

We continue our discussions about the innovative Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) to provide a college education for the incarcerated.  Through BPI, inmates are given opportunity to study college courses and earn credits toward an Associates Degree.  BPI has facilitated a unique opportunity for its graduates to reinvent their lives and provide renewed hopes for their future.  The rate of success and contribution by BPI graduates reinforces the value of a college degree and the ability to transform individuals.  Since its inception in 2001, BPI has grown and operates six satellite campuses throughout New York.  Recently, Max Kenner, founder and executive director of BPI, was recognized for the innovative program and won a Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award.

Our inspiring educator is Dr. Megan Callaghan, the director of operation for BPI and a classroom instructor.  As a professor of anthropology, Dr. Callaghan shares her personal insights and experience from teaching her highly motivated students, and as the operational director, she shares her pivotal role overseeing a dedicated group of instructors.  Join us and learn about what former President Bill Clinton observed in his book Giving, BPI “is a good investment in a safer, more productive society.”

Direct download: IE23-Megan_Callaghan.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 5:22pm EDT

IE2: Paul Yingling. From the Battlefields to the Classroom!
Mr. Paul Yingling served three tours in Iraq and retired as a Colonel in the US Army.  With impressive credentials in leadership and management, Paul is a prolific publisher and has written numerous articles on international relations and military affairs.  He has also taught future Army officers at the US Military Academy at Westpoint, prior to serving along side his former students in Iraq.

What compels a retired Colonel with distinguished service and a wealth of knowledge and experience to pursue a career as a high school teacher?  Mr. Yingling shares his passions and visions for educating the American youth.  He further elaborates on one of the best articulated reasons for education in his speech, "The Aim of Education."  Please join us and  help us celebrate our inspiring educator, Mr. Paul Yingling.   

Direct download: IE2-Paul_Yingling.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 4:15pm EDT

What do you take for granted?  What is the value of education?  What role does liberal arts play in our civilization?  If you were given a clean slate in life, a second chance, how might you live differently?

Our guest today has lived through a life of hell.  Incarcerated when 17 and having spent 20 years in prison for 1st degree manslaughter and dealing drugs, his life took a dramatic change in course when given the opportunity to study and earn college credits while serving his sentence.  Having earned a scholarship to study under Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), he was able to study and with each class and book consumed, the opportunity to pursue his dreams became a reality.

This is a story of redemption.  This is the story of Donnell Hughes.  His story will challenge your concept of forgiveness, the value of education, the power of optimism, and the dedicated educators who have never forgotten the promise of the forgotten.  Please join us as Donnell shares his incredible journey to reinvent himself and outlook on life!

Direct download: IE22-Donnell_Hughes.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 9:19pm EDT

Heinrich Heine stated, “Where words leave off, music begins.”  There simply are no words to describe how music completes a large part of our life journey.  Music is universal, personal, magical, powerful, subtle, and romantic; music has the capacity to move and change us.

The world of music is a central part of our guest and inspiring educator, Maestra Sonia Marie De Leon de Vega.  Through her lifelong passion, Sonia has introduced and touched the hearts and minds of children and their families in struggling neighborhoods in Los Angeles.  The impact of centuries old music Maestra De Leon de Vega conducts for her audience, most experiencing live classical performance for the first time, has had a profound impact on even the toughest teens struggling to find meaning in their lives.

Sonia's musical journey through her "Discovering Music" program and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra is bringing musical balance and harmony to the greater Los Angeles community.  Join us and hear how Sonia can instill inspiration without a single spoken word.  Follow the baton and help us celebrate our unsung hero!

Direct download: IE21-Sonia_Marie_De_Leon_De_Vega.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 8:23pm EDT

As the great great granddaughter of Booker T. Washington, Amanda Washington's contribution to education remains very personal through her past work as a Spanish teacher for Teach for America.  Her current challenge is to define and produce a more diverse educational opportunity for all children.  As a graduate student at Columbia University's Teacher's College and as an intern with the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for African Americans (WHIEEAA), the legacy of Booker T. Washington continues through Amanda.

Join us and find out how the influence of her educator grandmother and family friend and civil rights attorney, Oliver Hill, have helped shape and form Amanda's calling in education.  From the classroom to educational policy research, our inspiring educator has never forgotten the valued lessons of history, sacrifices made, and the continuing dedication needed for progress to be made.

Direct download: IE20-Amanda_Washington.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 3:32pm EDT

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” -Teddy Roosevelt.

The quote appropriately describes many dedicated educators.  Our task is to share and rebuild hope, our situation is never ideal: logistical challenges, lack of supplies and funding, staff shortages, but what our schools can depend on are innovative, dedicated, and passionate individuals who stand in front of her class every single day, and staunchly demonstrate and encourage our children to overcome their own inhibitions and say, "You can do this.  You will not fail, not on my watch."

Our inspiring educator today, in her own words, "...never thought I would be hanging out at the teacher's lounge."  Thankfully she did.   A former Teach for America educator who's practice and curriculum have been adopted on a National Scale by Teach for America and studied by 17,000 incoming corps members so far, her classroom goes far beyond math and reading.  A Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Award recipient, given to just one elementary school teacher from a corps of over six thousand, Ms. Julia King continues her fight for educational equity for the most needy students in her expanding role in and outside the classroom.  Join us and listen in to Julia's inspiring story, turning her idealistic ideas to a working formula for student success.

Direct download: IE19-Julia_King.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 12:58am EDT

We continue our discussions about education in New Zealand with Mr. John Pipe in Auckland.  In this episode, John discusses the state of educators in New Zealand as well as the integration of Maori culture and new immigrants in the educational curriculum.  John further shares his role as an administrator and reflects his position outside the classroom.  Finally, John continues to share his wisdom and anecdotal lessons after 39 years as a teacher. 

Direct download: IE18-John_Pipe_Part_Two_.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 1:15am EDT

I would like to take you to a place where your worst 1st world problems become meaningless and absurd.  Located on the NW part of Africa, Sierra Leone is a nation rebuilding itself after a bloody rebel war from 1991 to 2002.  How do you rebuild a country and provide for basic necessities?  How do you provide a future for its children and how do you teach your children to provide a future for a recovering nation?  In a land where there is a teacher shortage, lack of infrastructure,  listed on United Nation's 50 most Least developed nations, below Afghanistan and Haiti...where average life expectancy listed by the World Health Organization overall is 47 yrs compared to 79 for the US, the recovery is a daunting task.  If you haven't heard of Sierra Leone, but you've seen the movie "Blood Diamond", the movie details the struggles of this war.

Our guest today is a native of Sierra Leone and his journey takes us from his home to one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities in the world, San Francisco, but the memory of his home and the plight of his people have  moved him to action to do his part in securing a better future for Sierra Leonians, especially her children through education.  Join us and listen to how our inspiring educator, Albert Kamara, is helping to rebuild a war torn nation, one student at a time.

Direct download: IE16-Albert_Kamara.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 2:37am EDT

Some of us are fortunate to have a sense of direction at early age; we have a goal and passionately pursue our dreams.  Few are lucky to find life's calling at such early childhood.  Some of us are adrift in a vast ocean of life, in a boat without a rudder.  There are few brave and determined souls who dare and eventually find a direction to boldly leave their comfort and safety zone, navigate through uncharted water, and make a difference in their lives while impacting others. 

Our inspiring educator is Marie-Claire Siddall, who has taken a scenic route to her mission in life.  One invaluable commodity every effective educator shares is altruism.  It is Maire-Claire's daily pursuit to equip her students with a solid rudder to help them steer and navigate toward their calling in life!  Join us and listen in to Ms. Siddall explain why and how she became a high school chemistry teacher and why she is an unsung hero!

Direct download: IE15-Marie-Claire_Siddall_.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 5:17pm EDT

What should the role of education be in our society?  What obligations do we have as educators for our students? What missions and challenges must our students take on towards progress rather than the inevitable change?

There are many compelling and thought provocative commencement speeches given from the well known: Steve Job's commencement speech at Stanford, JK Rowling's at Harvard, the "Wear Suncreen" speech that Kurt Vonnegut never gave, and others.  Then there's Mr. Yingling's "Aim of Education."   Ninety-nine percent of you have never heard of this speech and as a messenger, my aim is to make sure his eloquent speech on education, duty to humanity, and life is not assigned to obscurity.  Paul's speech is sure to provide a moment of pause to reflect, recalibrate, and inspire.

Direct download: IE14-Paul_Yingling2_.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 10:29pm EDT

The beginning of every school year is a meeting of nervous energy, excitement, and undiscovered dreams to be fulfilled for each educator and her students.  The end of every school year is a bitter-sweet goodbye for each class and its unique group of students who will meet in that hour, together, for that last time.  The rewards of an educator is as many as her students and a priceless commodity that is individually gift wrapped; one that provides a timeless joy.

A teacher is many things. She is also an artist. Each hour lesson is carefully imagined, crafted, and performed to amazed smiles, tilt of heads in curiosity, and students are leaning forward on the edge of their seats.  Time is flying because everyone is having fun!  The prolific artist is an inspiring educator, Mrs. Mary Liu, who is determined to make sure her Harvard degree has a far reaching influence beyond her classroom.  Join us and listen to the very talented Mrs. Liu on how she inspires her students while laughing all the way!

Direct download: IE13-Mary_Liu.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 1:51am EDT

Altruism is a virtue shared by the most passionate and dedicated educators and coaches.  To be a great coach, you have to be a great teacher and to be a great teacher, you have to be a great coach.

Celebrated tennis coach Vic Braden's approach to tennis is much more than winning on the courts, but winning off the courts, and in his game of life, the more love you have, the better the game.  His dedication to educate the masses about life lessons through tennis is legendary in the sports community.  A teacher, philanthropist, writer, licensed psychologist, sports commentator, and much more, Vic has a lot of life experience to share and recommendations on educating our children.  Listen up!  The coach is giving instructions.

Direct download: IE12-Vic_Braden.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 2:13am EDT

Courage is defined in many ways in our society.  Many might think of a brave solider in the battlefield, a firefighter rushing into a burning building without regards for his own safety, or a bystander risking it all to rescue a stranger in harms way.  Real courage is also defined by a caring classroom teacher stubbornly holding her ground, against all odds, to ensure society doesn't lose hopes and contributions of a child's future.  Courage is demonstrated on a daily basis by an educator who will provide comfort and offer opportunity to a child when seemingly all else have abandoned hope. 
You can't judge a book by the cover, nor can you judge an educator.  Through her tough exterior she holds the last compassionate hope inside for many students already written off and relegated to a number.  Our inspiring educator today has been tested on a daily basis to help society's forgotten children, never forgetting her mission, for a career that has spanned for 37 years.  Join us and listen in to the journey filled with tough love by our unsung hero in education, Ms. Alma Ward. 
Direct download: IE10-Alma_Ward.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 3:44am EDT

Suney Park is standing among other teachers in the White House being recognized by President Barak Obama.  The President of the United States is teaching Suney how to properly fist bump!  The recognition and laughter shared by those present on that blizzard day in Washington DC is a culmination of one incredibly dedicated educator and her personal sacrifice for her students.

Suney has taken her humble upbringing and personal struggles growing up to empower her students.  Always putting students first, Suney has worked closely with Khan Academy to redefine her role in the classroom and has paved a way to provide a more individualized service to her students.  Join us and listen to the sound of passionate joy in teaching, the pursuit of excellence, and how Ms. Park is always destined to lose a steak dinner bet with her students.

Direct download: IE9-Suney_Park.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 12:20am EDT

Imagine having a world citizen for your history teacher to allow you to witness and feel the utter horrors of the Holocaust, enable you to empathize with the nameless victims of the distant past, and provide an opportunity for you to apply and act on lessons learned.  Our inspiring educator today provides more than mere facts to his students.  Each class session is a time machine into the past and his students are more than casual observers of history.

Stephan Anagnost's journey is as fascinating as the class he teaches.  A short journey from New York to Austria has led to a lifetime of dynamic involvement with the United Nations and efforts to help rebuild war torn former Yugoslavia.  Now teaching for American International School on the peaceful island of Curaçao, his fight is to challenge his young future leaders about confronting their own fears and acting on preserving justice for humanity. 

Direct download: IE8-Stephan_Anagnost.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 12:28am EDT

The inspiring story you are about to hear is a journey filled with promise fueled by optimism, passion, and resilience.  It's a personal journey and mission of an unlikely hero, in her words, "...using education to do something positive." 

Our guest today exemplifies the very best of intellectual curiosity tied with social responsibility and determined to use her love and lessons from literature as a conduit for progress.  Gloria Montiel is a Harvard graduate and currently pursuing a PhD in education policy, evaluation, and reform at Claremont Graduate University.  Join us and find out about Gloria's unique struggles and how she embodies hope for so many!

Direct download: IE7-Gloria_Montiel.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 1:26am EDT

The ability to touch the hearts and minds of our students and inspire them to move to action is a challenge every educator has to face in his or her career and must succeed. The ability to do so, simply with words, is what all educators strive to master, and perhaps none has done so with such eloquence, beauty, power, honesty, and from the heart as Mr. Clint Smith.
Passion to teach born from his experience in humanitarian work in Senegal to Soweto, South Africa to finishing up his commitment with Teach for America at Parkdale High School in Maryland, Clint ties his classroom lessons intimately with social justice and obligations.  Recognized in the book, "American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom", listen in as the once International Slam Poetry finalist, transforms and inspires his students through the beautiful words of poetry.  
Direct download: IE6-Clint_Smith.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 12:03am EDT

If there is one undeniable strength and the creative nature of education in the US, it's in large part due to the very diverse and talented population from which we can draw our teachers.  These inspiring individuals bring and share their many priceless and unique first hand experiences and knowledge into our classrooms.

Ioana Stoica is a multi-talented young teacher in DC who has never forgotten her humble roots or the influence of her strong family bond.  She and her family had to endure living under a very rigid cold war era communist rule undergoing a violent and chaotic revolution.  From a turbulent circumstances to an uncharted new beginning in the US to a nationally recognized educator in her field, Ms. Stoica shares the power and lessons in humility. 

Direct download: IE5-Ioana_Stoica.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 7:10pm EDT

37 years of dedicated service.  What are the thoughts of a retiring teacher as he wishes best of luck to his final graduating class and closes his classroom door for the last time?  3000 students who have come and gone.  What is an educator's legacy?  What does life hold for a retired teacher?

Join us and enjoy the often hilarious adventures of Mr. Bill Roberts as he shares his wisdom and his "Two Rules in Teaching."  Then, find out about his final unexpected gift from a former student. 

Direct download: IE4-Bill_Roberts.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 5:51pm EDT

Sometimes, we get ourselves involved with a project without too much of expectation; just passing through.  Then something magical happens.  You become absorbed and engrossed with the task at hand.  You find out, it's no longer just a job.  It evolves into a calling, a passion, and before you know it, you rise to the top of your field!  Such is the adventure of once a reluctant teacher, Mr. Craig Brandenburg, who found his love and mission in life within the walls of his classroom. 
Awarded Teach for America's 2014 Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching, Craig shares how teaching found him and shares his important mission and the opportunity it provided.  Listen to his continuing journey of inspiration, the unique gifts his students provide, and the secret to his success: pig feed and gummy worms.
Direct download: IE3-Craig_Brandenburg.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 5:42pm EDT

First episode of  Your host, Sung Lee shares his vision of recognizing our unsung heroes in education.  Please visit our site and sign up for our mailing list.  Class is in session.  It's time to get inspired!

Direct download: IE1-Sung_Lee_Intro_mixdown.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 8:43pm EDT