Dr. Temple Grandin surpassed all expectations of special educators when she became one of the first autistic people to earn a Ph.D., and she believes that any person with autism can do the same. As a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, she has developed grazing and handling techniques that reduce stress on animals. These guidelines are now used throughout North America and beyond. She consults on livestock management for commercial food giants, and has designed cattle facilities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Australia. Dr. Grandin also travels the world to advocate for those with autism and to inspire autistic communities. Photo: RJ Sangosti/Getty
W.E.B. Du Bois
A prominent advocate for African-American rights, W.E.B. Du Bois instructed at more than one institution of higher learning. He was the chairman of the department of sociology at Atlanta University. While teaching at the University of Pennsylvania in 1899, he produced one of the most influential sociological studies of an urban community,
He The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study. used his discoveries to help found the NAACP. Under his leadership, the organization would go on to guide the fight for civil rights. He died in 1963 on the eve of the civil rights march on Washington, D.C. Photo: Cornelius Marion (C.M.) Battey/Library of Congress
The work Anne Sullivan did with Helen Keller became the blueprint for the education of children who are
blind, deaf, visually impaired, or some combination of the three. Sullivan’s intelligence and intuition helped her develop breakthrough exercises such the one well remembered from the film The Miracle Worker, where Sullivan used her finger to spell the name of an object on Keller’s palm, while placing Keller’s other hand against the named item, until Keller grasped the connection. In 2003 Sullivan was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty
One of the most famous theoretical
physicists of all time, Stephen Hawking served for 30 years in the prestigious educational post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. His studies have focused, in part, on uncovering the mysteries of black holes. He is the author of many books, but his most famous is the international bestseller A Brief History of Time, which simplified exciting but complex ideas of astronomical science for laypeople. During the book’s 112 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List, Hawking’s work taught millions of us about our cosmos. Photo: Bruno Vincent/Getty
Though Albert Einstein was born in Germany, after the
Nazis rose to power he became an American citizen. Once here, he taught at the California Institute of Technology before taking a post at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In 1921 Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize, in part, for discovering the photoelectric effect, which helped establish quantum theory. However, his most well-known innovations are the equation E = mc2 (energy equals mass times the speed of light squared) and the general theory of relativity, a cornerstone of modern physics. Photo: MPI/Getty
Elizabeth Blackwell was the very first woman to ever receive a medical degree from a school in the United States. Blackwell moved from England to the U.S. in 1821 because her father wanted to help abolish slavery, and she carried on his social justice work by fighting slavery and prejudice against women. After deciding that she wanted to become a doctor, Blackwell applied to every medical school in the Northeast. One school, the Geneva Medical College, put her admission to a vote by the student body, sure that they would deny her. The young male students thought that the proposition was a joke and voted in favor of her admittance. Thus, Blackwell gained admission. She went on to open the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, which functioned as the first teaching hospital for women.
Photo: National Institutes of Health
Jaime Escalante is the
calculus and advanced math teacher at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles who inspired the 1988 movie . The school is home to students facing great odds, Escalante told Stand and Deliver NPR, “So you have to love the kids and make them see that they have a chance, opportunity in this country to become whatever they want to.” Escalante’s belief that students who want to enroll in challenging classes should be allowed to do so was relatively unprecedented, as most schools required difficult testing for eligibility. Escalante inspired educators across the country to drop this prerequisite and allow students to reach their full potential. Photo: Reuters Photographer
Booker T. Washington
Due to his connections, Booker T. Washington almost single-handedly controlled the
flow of funds to black schools and colleges in the late 19th century. Washington was born a slave in Virginia, and, eager for an education, travelled hundreds of miles to Hampton University, a historically black college founded in 1868. He went on to establish an African-American school for industrial education in Tuskegee, because he believed that education and industry were the avenues by which his people would prove their full equality. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston/Library of Congress
Having instructed at several young girls’ academies, Emma Willard founded the Middlebury Female Seminary, the first higher education school for young women in the United States. The rigorous institution opened in 1814 out of Willard’s home. The accomplishments of her and her students proved that
young women could master sciences and classics as well as any young man. She wrote an influential which was the first proposal for publicly funded girls schools, like those that existed for young men. Address to the Public, Image: EmmaWillard.org
S. I. Hayakawa
Not only did Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa serve as president of San Francisco State University and lecturer at the University of Chicago, but he was also voted into office as a United States Senator for six years, beginning in 1977. As a semanticist, Hiyakawa is well known for his book
Language in Thought and Action, which explores the power of propaganda, particularly as it was used by the Nazis. His work on this topic continues to influence students to think critically about how language is used. Though he believed the protests of the ’60s should not interfere with other students’ right to education and was known for stopping a rally by yanking the wires out of a loudspeaker, he was the first in the nation to agree to the Black Panthers’ demand for a college of ethnic studies.
Famous for her work in urban schools and diverse cultural settings, Dr. Lisa Delpit is one of the foremost innovators of culturally relevant approaches to teaching. She received her masters and doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she published a series of influential essays in the school’s
She explained to Educational Review. that some of her techniques include teaching Standard English as if it were a foreign language and explaining math through problems using values economically applicable to The Nation disadvantaged students. Her straightforward style of writing continues to influence education in urban settings across the country.
Inspiring Photos From the New Documentary 'TEACH'
TEACH is a remarkable tribute to four extraordinary teachers facing the challenges of educating American children. It's a portrait of everyday heroes who face a school year with a mixture of patience, perseverance, passion, and innovation—and of the students who adore and admire them. Here are 16 behind-the-scenes snaps of the filmmakers and their subjects as they take this fascinating journey together.
This article was created as part of the social action campaign for the documentary TEACH , produced by TakePart's parent company, Participant Media, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates.
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