The Ruth Hart Jessee Strange Award for 2009 goes to Mr. William Chamberlain, 5th grade teacher in Noel, Missouri. "Mr. C" plays a critical role in encouraging teachers and students from around the world to do many important things:
1. To collaborate. See, for example the excellent blog At The Teachers Desk that the collaborative team, of which Mr. C is a central part, publishes on a regular basis.
2. To reflect. Mr. C has his students reflect on their learning in short video clips. You can see and hear his students regular on his class blog, Mr. C's Class Blog.
3. To interact with the world. Australia, New Zealand, England, Missouri, North Carolina, even Alabama are part of Mr.C's world, and the world of his students.
4. To experiment. Until late March of this year I had never heard of Mr. C. Several of my students, assigned to locate teachers throughout the world who used blogs in their classrooms found his class blog. One left a comment on the blog. Mr. C, through a bit of detective work, located the student who had left that comment and made a comment on her blog. I saw that comment and thought that all my students should see it so I repeated it on the class blog and informed Mr. C I had done so. That started his teaching me. "John, you've got to use Twitter!" Mr. C tells me. "Ugh," I thought. Again, "Try it John." So I did, making Twitter a spontaneous joint learning assignment with my students. It has been a long time since I have learned so much in so short a time.
5. To share. Time, resources, ideas, information, comments on blogs. Mr. C spends much of his time sharing. We all benefit and should follow his example! See especially his Twitter #comments4kids undertaking . Mr. C is joined in this effort by many other teachers around the world including Jarrod Lamshed of Adelaide, Australia who created this wiki.
6. To learn. Just read his blogs, follow him on Twitter (@wmchamberlain). You will then know what I mean by his devotion to, and excitement in learning!
A cash award of $ 250 has been sent to the Noel Elementary School for use by Mr. Chamberlain as he sees fit in the furtherance of his teaching profession.
Ruth Hart Jessee Strange Award
This award is to be given annually in memory of my mother, Ruth Hart Jessee Strange. Mother was born and raised just outside of Kansas City in and around Liberty, Missouri. She was graduated from William Jewell College in 1927. She taught school in several Missouri communities and later became the secretary to the President of Kansas City Power and Light Company. After raising me and my sister, Catharine Hart Strange Stewart of Indianapolis, Indiana, Mother returned to work as Special Assistant to Dr. J. Willis Hurst, then Chair of the Department of Medicine at Emory University and the cardiologist of President Lyndon Johnson. Mother was the recipient of the William Jewell College Citation of Achievement, the highest award bestowed on an alumnus by William Jewell, in 1970. Her brother, Randall Smith Jessee had received the same award in 1956 and her sister, Mary Margaret Jessee Mayfield had received the award in 1948. Not many families have an entire generation who have received such awards from their alma mater!
The Hadley Harrington Strange Award
This award is to be given annually in memory of my father, Hadley Harrington Strange. My father did not graduate from college, nor even high school. The depression of the thirties! He worked in a tobacco factory instead of finishing high school. He had a job! It did not pay much, but it helped a bit in keeping food on the table. Later he was a "Reveneur," chasing moonshiners through the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee. He then ran a filling station and garage in Newport, Tennessee. At my mother's insistence, so that my sister and I could go to "good" high schools, my father went back to work for the Internal Revenue Service, later becoming head of the Inspection Service for the southeastern region of the United States. He was a phenomenal story teller and teacher. Bridge, poker, fishing, marksmanship, detective work, solving riddles and puzzles were the primary subjects that he taught. He loved learning, and loved sharing that enthusiasm will everyone he encountered. Beginners welcome. And experts too!