Dec 4, 2007 by

Mike Shaughnessy Senior Columnist EducationViews.org
Eastern New Mexico University
Delia Stafford Columnist
Haberman Educational Foundation, Inc.

For the past two years, the Upton Sinclair Award chose and honored individuals who have contributed to the education profession; many are well known for their work, some may have never enjoyed the spotlight. This year we have “stars” and more “stars,” all of whom have added to the well being of children in very significant ways. We believe there are those who contribute to children and never get the recognition they richly deserve. So here we go forthe 2007 UPTON winners!!

Putting all politics aside for a few minutes, Sean Hannity is an education advocate and his most recent focus has been for the children of our American soldiers who have been slain in the current wars around the world. He has demonstrated his efforts via the “Freedom Concerts”and has been successful in raising a million plus for this very worthy cause.The funds are earmarked for college tuition which will help students whose parents have contributed the ultimate sacrifice for America. They gave their lives to protect our freedom in America. In his highly visable position he has garnered the support of the music world , those who are famous with resources to help his mission.

A recent highlight on his talk show December 2, 2007, was the “American Dream Project”, a story of one woman who quit her job to create a foundation to welcome the soldiers coming home from war. A program where the soldiers are given a “heros welcome” by having them visit their home school where children and youth can see first hand a real soldier and give them honor, singing patriotic songs,waving the American flag in support of an individual who is saving the lives of children and youth. Saving America and it’s dream for peace and social justice for all. Mr. Hannity is a true Upton winner!

An individual who has also done extensive work in the proverbial trenches is Don Meyer-founder of Sib Shops. Sib shops are best described as opportunities for brothers and sisters of children with special health and developmental needs to obtain peer support and education within a recreational context. They often reflect an agency’s commitment to the well-being of the family member most likely to have the longest-lasting relationship with the person with special needs.

For years he has been working with the siblings of children with exceptional needs. Don Meyer knows about the emotional side of education and that side is the brother or sister of a student with special needs and the absolute necessity of helping those individuals through counseling and recognition of their situation.

Ron Clark is an individual that personifies and exemplifies all that is good about teaching, reaching out to children, motivating children and caring for his students. His accomplishments have been chronicled in the movie ” The Ron Clark Story”.

What is most impressive were the clips with the movie that showed the real ” Ron Clark “- the teacher with a vision, the teacher with ideas about education and a teacher with energy, enthusiasm and panache! He continues to work to improve education and his efforts should be acknowledged and recognized. Find his website to learn more about the North Carolina nationally recognized exemplary teacher. He is still on the job working with students. A real Upton teacher celebrity is on Clark has been called “America’s Educator.” His work with disadvantaged students in rural North Carolina and in inner-city Harlem garnered worldwide attention, and he was invited to the White House on three separate occasions to be honored by the President and Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Clark’s tireless work and dedication to making a difference in the lives of children led him to be named Disney’s American Teacher of the Year in 2000. Since receiving that distinction, he has twice on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Ms. Weven featured him in her magazine and named him her first “Phenomenal Man.” In addition, Ron’s experiences as a teacher are the subject of the critically acclaimed movie, “The Ron Clark Story,” that stars Matthew Perry in the lead role.

A husband and wife team that have been helping teachers for years through their various books, workshops, and in-service presentations is Harry Wong and Rosemary Wong. Their work has been used extensively in teacher training programs all across the United States and is required reading for most pre-service teachers. The idea of ” well begun, half done” applies to this great pair. They have given thousands, if not millions of teachers ideas as to how to begin the school year well and how to maintain classroom control and manage students. We wish them well in their endeavors and thank them for their wonderful work in print, and in person.

Frank Wang, a young man who struggled to learn math as a student, once memorized a whole test of algebra so he could move to the next level in school! Astounding! The principal was shocked to say the least. The story behind Frank and his success is notable.

In 1980, 16-year-old high school student Frank Wang responded to an employment request from John Saxon who was engaged in writing his first textbook. Wang fulfilled numerous duties for Saxon, including serving as “gofer” and eventually rising to the task of assisting with the writing, proofreading, and editing of the textbooks.

His employment was interrupted when he graduated from high school and enrolled at Princeton to study math. Imagine, from a struggle with learning math to Princeton to learn math! A family that would not accept anything but his best efforts to learn. At that time, his goal was to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a professor. But upon request from mentor John Saxon, Frank Wang returned to help the company, by becoming a vice president of Saxon Math.

Today, he is dedicated to preserving John Saxon’s memory and ideology of turning around mathematics education in America, and strives to continue the spirit and enthusiasm of a company which has been a part of his life for the past 20+ years. Frank eventually stepped away from the corporation to become a college professor of math, seeing his personal dream come true!

His effort to preserve this gift from his mentor, and his continued efforts with schools, and working with aspiring teachers of math, deserves recognition. We wish him well in his future endeavors and continued success.

We would call it The Education of Tracey McGrady. In a recent story in the Houston Chronicle, Tracey McGrady, Houston Rocket, a real star on the basketball court, was featured as an athlete who cares about people, especially children. With the many atrocities looming around the world, Mr. Mc Grady went to see for himself the township of Darfur, a place the size of Texas and a country in which every personlives in poverty.

He actually lived amidst the victims and observed their plight to stay alive. Now that he has witnessed first hand the problems of Darfur, he has vowed to spread the word for children and their families in the hope of making a mark in what seems to be a hopeless quest with and for those who are left to fend everyday, for nothing. His dedication to Darfur with the intent to make events happen, we see possibilities somewhere for The Education of the Children of Darfur.

Thanks Tracey, and we hope that your athletic friends of the Houston Rockets and those in the NBA will join you in this venture. Education is the key to freedom from the world of poverty; it begins with educating the children!You have a very urgent mission, where everyday counts…….ds

Dr. Eldo W. Bergman is an educator, a child neurologist and father of five, including two boys who formerly had serious reading problems.  In 1986, finding little hope in the literature that the older son would learn to read at grade level any time soon, he developed a talking-computer support system.  The purpose of the system was 1) to avoid the loss of self-esteem, vocabulary, and comprehension skills that are associated with reading impairment, and 2) buy time until ongoing reading intervention could develop reading skills. His beliefs of what could be accomplishedand his urgency were based on his personal experience with his own children.After his success with his support system, which helpedhis own children learn to read, he realized the methodology could help thousands of others who were struggling to learn the skill of reading.

Dr. Bergman established the non profit Texas Reading Institute(TRI), 1996, which has helped children nationwide. The Texas Reading Institute (TRI) is a non-profit educational institute that seeks to maximize the student’s ability to read and learn from print.  TRI integrates assessment, intervention, and technology. While he has received numerous awards and accolades through the years, Dr.Bergman deserves on-going recognition such as the Upton Sinclair Award.

Dr. Bergman developed a solution that now spans two decades plus. His work is still needed and the children deserve his thoughtful inventions for intervention. According to sources, all five of the Bergman children are college educated and productive citizens. Thanks to the quick action of their dad!! ds

Each year the Upton Sinclair Award is given to an individual, from a neighboring country, who has contributed to the welfare of children and conducted other humanitarian acts. In 2007, Queen Rania of Jordan is our nominee for this prestigious award. Rania Al-Yassin, now Queen Rania al-Abdullah, is renowned for her philanthropic work. She is active in fields of national concern including the protection of children from acts of violence as well as her promotion of early childhood development programs for children. Her child advocacy is noted in her travels around the world.

She has been an for advocate women’s rights in her country. Her support of the women in Islam has played a prominent role in promoting understanding for all those who have an interest in peace and social justice in every nation. Her Majesty has travelled to a great number of countries in representation of Jordan and to contribute to worldwide causes. Some of these are the USA, India, Kuwait, France, South Africa, Greece, the Netherlands and Great Britain. In 2003, she was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims. Her efforts are of great importance in Jordan as she provides leadership with concern for others on an international scale.

Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, Ph.D. from Northwestern University, teacher, writer, researcher, speakerand Professor of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Cal State University,Sacramento. Dr. Roseberry’s career includes 50 publications, including six books, and 180 presentations. She is a Fellow of the American Speech –Language Hearing Association and speaks to educators nationally and internationally. To top that, she workspart-time at the Elk Grove Unified School District with elementary students. Professor to elementary teacher! Elementary teacher to professor!!! Picture that!!Dr. Roseberry’s new book, Increasing Language Skills of Students From Low Income Backgrounds: Practical Strategies ForProfessionals ( Plural Publishing, 2007) is a dynamicand practical book that provides assistance to speech-language pathologists, school and university educators, as well helpful information for parents. Uniquely and specifically, the author combines information about the “culture of poverty” factors impacting low-income children’s language skills and includes practical strategies for nonbiased assessment and intervention for the children who live inpoverty. To date, there are 15 million children in this category. Astounding !

Throughout the book, Mark McKibbin, son and third grader of Drs. Mike and Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, is the subject of the authors writings, as she provides her own life experiences in caring for and teaching him. At the same time she delivers a valuable resource for others who may be engaged with children who are under-resourced and have little or no hope for a bright future. We salute Dr. Roseberry-McKibbin for her untiring efforts to help those who need more than, “just another day at school”.

G. Gbaanador, MD, FACS, FICS, Nigerian born andworking in Houston, Texas. He is an advocate for children and youth and participates with the Thurgood Marshall High School for Engineering Professions at Fort Bend ISD Missouri City, Texas. He is still closely connected to his home country in a very distinct way. He is building a hospital for the poor in Nigeria.

This year the aspiring engineering students from the Fort Bend ISD, will lend Dr. G.a helping hand. They will travel to Nigeria along with teacher leader Homer Stewart who has worked tirelessly with the students in his classes at TMHS. This year Stewart’s student engineering project will provide a clean water supply to the hospital. A rare and well-deserved opportunity to for American high school students. They will be contributing to children and youth living in poverty; giving back to those who need it most. We commend the students and their teacher, Mr.Stewart.

Over the years, Dr.G. has continued his interest in education for children and their healthcare issues in Nigeria. In the past few years there has been an escalation of child mortality. The under-five mortality ratio in Nigeria is 201 per 1000 live births meaning that one in five Nigerian children never reach the age of 5. These data are mind boggling when compared to those in the western world.

Dr.G was born in poverty and is a true example of what can be accomplished with hard work and persistence. His deeds of kindness and his work with children in America and Nigeria should not go unnoticed; perhaps there are others who would be willing to contribute to his efforts.

Bill Cecil and his book “Best Year Ever” deserves some recognition. Motivating students, motivating teachers, and endeavoring to have not just a good year, not just a great year, but one’s “Best Year Ever” is a laudable endeavor. Best to Bill and hope that every year is your “Best Year Ever”.

As we close out 2007, we would like to honor the school principal leaders. They do have a tough job. In a brief conversation last week with an individual that had spent time with a high school principal from Kansas City, Missouri, he said the principal was attending the 8th funeral this year; eight students lost their young lives in one school. Drive by shootings, gang warfare along with other related incidents has devastated the lives of 8 families, while students in the school wonder every day who might be next. Multiply that hundreds of times over and you get the picture of what is happening in America’s schools.

Would that we could wave a magic wand! BUT, we don’t have one! In all likelihood, the very best way to solve this would be finding and selecting educators, both teachers and principals, who would take a brief extended moment in time each day to look into the faces of children and youth, perhaps find ways to build professional relationships with students that says to each and every child, ” I want you in my class everyday because your well being is important to ME ! I care about your learning, I care if you graduate, we will learn this material together”, then be willing to verbalize to students that these words do have real meaning along with action to make it happen. ” HERE’S TO THE UPTON SCHOOL PRINCIPALS OF AMERICA!”

Published December 4, 2007

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