Dec 15, 2011 by

Delia Stafford Michael Shaughnessy

Each year since 2005, the Upton Sinclair writers have continued to study trends in education.  Our best efforts have always been to try and determine who has put forth effort to ensure that education issues are in the forefront. We have always selected those  who created great ideas, those who, in their own way, have gone above and beyond the call of duty ensuring that the children and youth of America and around the globe succeed in a world that sometimes appears as simply self-serving.Upton Sinclair always seemed to do what was in the best interest of others…especially when it came to education. As we searched around the  world, there were those who stood out in some distinctive way ; those who put others FIRST when it came to the education of children and youth,  individuals who seem to work tirelessly to make good things happen for kids, teens and as well as the potential educators in our schools. The Upton Spirit personified is what we are always looking for.This year, we want to acknowledge those that have exemplified the Upton Sinclair beliefs and values! The best of the best for 2011!

Tavis Smiley, noted broadcaster, author and philanthropist founded the Tavis Smiley Foundation in 1999 after granting a request from a single mother to have her son shadow him for a week. The experience proved to be so positive for Mr. Smiley he recognized a need for a leadership program that would inspire and impact hundreds of youth.

The result was Youth to Leaders – a program that would identify teens with great potential and provide training to help them develop into leaders.

The mission of the Tavis Smiley Foundation is to enlighten, encourage and empower youth by providing leadership training that will promote and enhance the quality of life for themselves, communities and our world.r key program is the Leadership Institute which is a five-day leadership and development program held every summer on a college campus in either July or August. Remarkably,to date more than 6,500 teens, ages 13-18, have participated in the leadership conferences, workshops and lectures series.Amazing what one person, with one great idea, sees the need and proceeds to affect so many in such an important venture.

Many of these youth have gone on to start non-profits and serve on non-profit boards, lead voter registration drives, produce teen town hall meetings and health fairs, intern with business leaders and elected officials. Nearly 90 percent of the program alumni graduate high school and continue on to college.

Tavis states,” You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you won’t serve the people. Studies show when give an opportunity to learn about leadership at an early age, teens are more likely to graduate high school, attend college and become active and productive engaged citizens”. Spoken like a true Upton Sinclair Winner!

An Upton spirit indeed. We are fortunate to have leaders such as Tavis Smiley, saving the children and youth of America!ds

Registration for the program typically begins in February. Details are available at

Joe Nathan is the director of the Center for School Change at Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota. Initiated in 1989, the Center currently works with communities and schools throughout the US to help make significant reforms a reality.

Interestingly enough,Dr Nathan came of age during the civil rights struggle in America in the 60’s. During that period, the the goal was to provide young people with the education they needed and deserved, not merely to simply survive, but to thrive. Still today in 2011,he understands that a young person that does not receive an education in todays world, will be an adult without much of a future tomorrow. He has dedicated his life to assure that the focus is on TLC, Teaching, Learning and Children. A true Upton Sinclair attitude that permeates his ongoing efforts to make a difference for those that need it most!

The Center for School Change works at the school, community and policy levels and key among Dr. Nathan’s great accomplishments are as follows: · assisting Cincinnati (district) public schools increase overall high school graduation rates by more than 25 points, and eliminate the graduation
gap between white and African American students

* Helping write the Post-Secondary Options Legislation and the nation’s first charter public school law

* Worked successfully and challenged the NCAA in a 3 year battle over appropriate course work for college bound students

* Producing more than 1,500 newspaper columns published by a variety of papers, including the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, plus a number of “on-line sites” including Huffington Post and

* Presented, by invitation, much needed testimony in more than 20 state legislatures and several Congressional Committees.

Through his academic work and advocacy he is constantly taking on the educational establishment that puts power, control, politics and adults ahead of our kids. His work ethic speaks volumes of what one person with spirit and drive can do to make a difference.

Dr.Joe Nathan, according to Dr.TD Watkins, former Commissioner of Education in Michigan and nominator of Dr. Nathan, states, “he is a good man who continues to add value and make a difference.

He constantly strives to lift up our schools, teachers and most importantly– our children to greater heights and further,if you look up “youth advocate” or “school reformer” in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Joe.

We, as writers of the Upton Sinclair Awards each year, appreciate Dr.Watkins, Upton Sinclair winner, 2010, taking time to deliver the information which guided us to declare, indeed, Dr. Joe Nathan is a TRUE Upton Sinclair 2011 winner.

C. M. Rubin (“Cathy”) is a child and family health advocate, an author of children’s books and non-fiction books, a short film producer, and a journalist in the areas of education, publishing, and film. Her fiction books include: Eleanor, Ellatony, Ellencake, and Me, and Ellie: The Perfect Dress For Me. Both books won numerous children’s book awards, including the I Parenting Media Award, Family Fun Best Picture Book, Borders Original Voice, Children’s Choice Award, Teacher’s Choice Award, Bronze Gold Ink Award, and many others. C. M. Rubin’s most recent book, The Real Alice in Wonderland — A Role Model for the Ages, was written with the help of her daughter, Gabriella Rose Rubin. It is a comprehensive biography about the life of her relative, Alice Pleasance Liddell, who was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), and the sequel, Through the Looking Glass (1871). Cathy is also the author of 2 widely read on-line series, The Global Search for Education and How Will We Read?, which appear weekly in Education Views and other prominent internet publications. Prior to becoming an author, she held various development and marketing positions at ITC Entertainment, EMI Films, RCA/Columbia Pictures, and Columbia/Tri-Star Pictures.

Ann Thompson

Dr. Thompson, is an editor of the Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, and is a spokesperson and motivator who prepares teachers to create active problem-solving environments via technology. Her research is backed by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Exxon Corporation, and the U.S. Department of Education. Drawing on her experience as founding director of the Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching at Iowa State University in Ames, she developed the ISU College of Human Sciences’ technology mentoring program, which now serves as a national model. Dr. Thompson not only inspires practicing teachers through forums for sharing research and development but also promotes a new generation of educators who are comfortable with tech and confident in its role in the classroom,according to her home page . Her contributions to the field of educational technology are outstanding.

Mr. Sinclair would certainly approve her venture, especially now and into the next century!

James Webb

James Webb is the founder of SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of Gifted) in 1981 has worked for years on behalf of children with intellectual and other gifts

He currently serves as Chair of SENG’s Professional Advisory Committee and he received the prestigious Community Service Award by the National Association for Gifted Children at the NAGC national convention in New Orleans on November 3,2012.NAGC annually presents this Community Service Award to an individual or group that has made a contribution that benefits the development of gifts and talents in young people. This contribution must affect the larger community, state, or nation.

As one person who nominated Dr. Webb noted, “Many of his works are well known for enhancing the lives of gifted children….In the past couple of decades, he has almost singlehandedly elevated community-based consciousness and has evoked community-based action in support of the development of gifted and talented youth globally.”

Dr. Webb, is the author of more than 70 professional publications, fifteen books, three DVDs, and many research papers, has been recognized as one of the 25 most influential psychologists nationally on gifted education. He has served on the Board of Directors for the National Association for Gifted Children, and he was President of the American Association for Gifted Children. He has received the National Award for Excellence, Senior Investigator Division, from the Mensa Education and Research Foundation, and in 2011 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented.

Formerly Professor and Associate Dean at the Wright State University School of Professional Psychology in Dayton, Ohio, Dr. Webb previously was on the faculty of Ohio University and had been in private practice of psychology. A Fellow of the American Psychological Association, he served for three years on its governing body, the Council of Representatives, and he received the Heiser Presidential Award for Advocacy by the American Psychological Association.

A frequent keynote and workshop speaker at state, national, and international conventions, Dr. Webb, a licensed and board-certified psychologist, has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS Sunday Morning, The Phil Donahue Show, CNN, Public Radio International, and National Public Radio.

Dr. Webb currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, where he is president of Great Potential Press, an award-winning publisher of books for parents and teachers of gifted children.

(some of the above taken from a Press release) He has a history of great work that exemplifies the Upton Sinclair spirit!

Ken Robinson – For those who have ever logged on to TED, Ken is no stranger to the field of thinking, simulating and encouraging discussion about education.

Sir Ken Robinson, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation. He is also one of the world’s leading speakers with a profound impact on audiences everywhere. The videos of his famous 2006 and 2010 talks to the prestigious TED Conference have been seen by an estimated 200 million people in over 150 countries.

He works with governments in Europe, Asia and the USA, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations. In 1998, he led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government. All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education (The Robinson Report) was published to wide acclaim in 1999. He was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland, working with the ministers for training, education enterprise and culture. The resulting blueprint for change, Unlocking Creativity, was adopted by politicians of all parties and by business, education and cultural leaders across the Province. He was one of four international advisors to the Singapore Government for its strategy to become the creative hub of South East Asia.

For twelve years, he was professor of education at the University of Warwick in the UK and is now professor emeritus. He has received honorary degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design, Ringling College of Arts and Design, the Open University and the Central School of Speech and Drama, Birmingham City University and the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. He was been honored with the Athena Award of the Rhode Island School of Design for services to the arts and education; the Peabody Medal for contributions to the arts and culture in the United States, the LEGO Prize for international achievement in education, and the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the Royal Society of Arts for outstanding contributions to cultural relations between the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2005, he was named as one of Time/Fortune/CNN’s ‘Principal Voices’. In 2003, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the arts. He speaks to audiences throughout the world on the creative challenges facing business and education in the new global economies.

His book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (Penguin/Viking 2009) is a New York Times best seller and has been translated into twenty-one languages. His latest book is a 10th anniversary edition of his classic work on creativity and innovation, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative (Capstone/Wiley). Sir Ken was born in Liverpool, UK, as one of seven children. He is married to Therese (Lady) Robinson. They have two children, James and Kate, and now live in Los Angeles, California. (Taken from his web page) Sir Ken Robinson continues to enlighten, challenge, and provoke thinking and learning. A widely known Upton Awardee!

Kiernan Egan

Kiernan Egan an “unsung hero” who is doing a gargantuan amount of work in terms of books, projects, and other endeavors. Mr Sinclair was an unsung hero too. Welcome to his club, Mr Egan! Kiernan is involved in Learning in Depth, Imaginative Education Research Group, Whole School Projects, and Dividing the School in Two. His books include : Learning in Depth, The Future of Education: Reimagining the School from the Ground Up, Teaching and Learning Outside the Box, Teaching Literacy: Engaging the Imagination of New Readers and Writers, An Imaginative Approach to Teaching, Getting it Wrong from the Beginning, The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding, Children’s Minds, Talking Rabbits and Clockwork Oranges, Teaching as Story Telling, Imagination in Teaching and Learning, Romantic Understanding, Educational Development, The Tudor Peace, and Education and Psychology. From his home page, I take the following “I am primarily interested in education. My work focuses on a new educational theory and its implications for a changed curriculum, teaching practices and the institution of the school”.Upton would concur that Mr. Egan’s work is a must!!!

Pasi Sahlberg is an educator, researcher, advisor on global education reform, and Director General of CIMO in Helsinki, Finland. He has lived and closely studied the remarkable reformation of education in Finland and has told the full story in his newly released book, Finnish Lessons – What can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?

Sahlberg has shown how the Finnish ways of improving schools differ from the global educational reform movement and from the North American educational policies and reform strategies This book is a tremendous source of insight and information for all countries around the world who are grappling with their own educational efforts and attempts to achieve excellence in their own countries.Mr. Sinclair understood struggles with plenty of his own!Pasi is a Upton rep!

Mary Beth Gaertner has done a good deal of work on assisting students to work with parents. Her book contains research based strategies for establishing a positive relationship between parents and teachers. Her book “Way to Go” calls on her 30 plus years of education and administrative experience and is a helpful tool for beginning teachers. 30 Years of doing great work would make Upton Sinclair proud!

Greg Worrell, President of the Scholastic Classroom and Community Group, created Scholastic’s new Family and Community Engagement (FACE) team in 2011, recognizing the critical importance of supporting learning and literacy development from birth to adulthood in and outside of school.

Under Greg’s leadership Scholastic FACE has focused on creating programs and partnerships that support literacy anywhere a child encounters a caring adult – whether in classrooms or at home, in early childhood, after school, during the summer and through mentoring programs. The new group supports a growing body of research that shows how important out-of-school learning and supports within the community and home are to student success.

To support this new initiative, Greg has brought together a distinguished panel of advisors to support Scholastic and work as a team to set goals and make a difference. The advisory board includes Earl Martin Phalen of Reach Out and Read, Pedro Noguera of NYU, David Banks of the Eagle Academy Foundation, and Liza McFadden of Volunteer USA.Upton Sinclair would fit right into this great group! I feel certain Mr.Worrell would have welcomed him in!

In his 20 years at Scholastic, Greg has been a tireless advocate for organizations and individuals that help serve students facing barriers like poverty. Whether it’s the creation of programs like Scholastic R.E.A.L. that provides schools and organizations with frameworks for creating mentoring programs, the development of high-interest books for kids or professional development resources for teachers, Greg is laser-focused on a mission of improving schools and boosting the learning outcomes of all children.

In addition to his work at Scholastic, Greg gives back to community as a mentor to children in the 5th grade in Houston, Texas. Upton Sinclair indeed!!

Professor Hani Q. Khoury

Hani Khoury , manifests the sheer courage of young boy who was first sent to America by his family in Palestine in the hope of a cure for his crippling spinal disease. No remedy could be found then or since, and he is now a virtual paraplegic, entirely unable to move his body unaided although, miraculously, still able to speak and eat.

Despite his appalling misfortune, one never sees Hani depressed or angry. He is instead unfailingly cheerful and optimistic, whilst his intellect is of the first order. He has been invited to Qatar twice and also to address the Arab Thought Forum in Amman. Most recently he has been invited to the 2011 WISE conference in Qatar. Hani’s fluency in Arabic is obviously important, as is the fact that as a Christian he is equally acceptable by all Muslims. His greatest additional asset however is his ability to engage sympathetically and intellectually with people at every social level. In addition to his weighty academic responsibilities, his disability has not prevented him and his equally remarkable wife, Diane, from forming an adopted family of very young children, whose lives they will also undoubtedly transform. He is also a leader of the first rank: and this in an electric wheel-chariot weighing 600 pounds. He is truly heroic. A larger world should know him!We appreciate a fellow Upton Sinclair winner,Colin Hannaford, for taking time to nominate Mr. Khoury, for he is truly an Upton Sinclair winner!!

Steve Jobs (Posthumously) There will never be another Steve Jobs, for he has put the world of technology and computers squarely in the hands of educators, learners and those involved in the information highway. No one can really assess and evaluate this person’s impact on education, not just in the U.S. but across the world. He will be sorely missed but his contributions to education, technology and learning will live on. Upton Sinclair would place a crown on his head for his most famous and dedicated work! The ultimate Upton Spirit Award!

Until next time, it has been our pleasure to highlight the great work of others! Thanks again to Jimmy Kilpatrick ,Editor in Chief, Education News , we have a venue to make a few great men and women educators feel proud of their accomplishments. Mr. Sinclair, we are sure, would concur!

Delia Stafford

Michael Shaughnessy


2005: Gerald Bracey, Nicholas Colangelo, Elaine Garan, Martin Haberman, Jonathan Kozol, Peter and Pam Wright, Reid Lyon; 2006: John Stossel, Jan and Bob Davidson, Peyton Wolcott, Fred Baughman, M.D., Will Fitzhugh, Joel Turtel, Bernard Gassaway, Ned Davis, Her Highness Sheikah Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, “All the Children of the World”; 2007: Sean Hannity, Don Meyer, Ron Clark, Frank Wang, Harry and Rosemary Wong, Tracey McGrady, Dr. Eldo W. Bergman, Queen Rania of Jordan, Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, Ph.D., G. Gbaanador, MD, FACS, FICS, Bill Cecil,  Here’s to the Upton School Principals of America; 2008: Harold V. House, Kathleen Chamberlain, Dee Alpert, Kevin Donnelly, Dona Matthews, Ph.D., Aisha Ussery, Collin Hannaford, Andrew Rotherham, Jim Zellmer., JoAnn Collins; 2009: E.D. Hirsch, Jay Mathews, John Goodlad, Billy Reagan, Geoffrey Canada, Frerick Hess Jay Hartling; 2010:Tom Watkins, Marlena Vaughn, Susan Ohanian, Dr. Marion Blank, Neal McCluskey, Ernest Boyer (Posthumously), Mr. Pierre Fignole, Chris Woodhead, Diane Ravitch, Ph.D.

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