Categotry Archives: Education


Tracy Hogg


Categories: Education, Medicine, Writers/Editors

thogg.jpgTracy Hogg, a British-born nurse who cared for more than 5,000 children, was called the “baby whisperer.” Using a compassionate touch and a few kind words, Hogg could calm any cranky baby. Her years of training and positive attitude soothed the fears of anxious parents as well.
The bestselling author of the 2001 book “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect and Communicate With Your Baby,” Hogg often used acronyms to teach the basics of raising children. For example, she instructed parents on how to create a daily schedule with the word “EASY” (Eating, Activity and Sleeping for the baby; the Y stands for “time for You”). She encouraged families to communicate with their infants in adult language and to treat each child like a little person.
Hogg’s services were highly prized by Hollywood parents. Several celebrities, including Cindy Crawford, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael J. Fox, Calista Flockhart, Jodie Foster and Marilu Henner, paid $200/hour for a telephone consultation, and $1,000/day for live-in support.
Although she was born into a large Yorkshire family, Hogg was raised by her grandparents. Her grandfather, the head nurse at a mental institution, took Hogg to the children’s ward when she was only 7 years old. After seeing how well she related to the children, he encouraged her to pursue a career in nursing. At 18, Hogg followed his advice and became a registered nurse, nanny and midwife. She also trained in hypnotherapy and specialized in helping children with learning disabilities and physical handicaps.
When Hogg moved to California in 1992, she took some flak for leaving her two young daughters in England to be raised by their grandmother. She defended her actions by saying they deserved the special care her extended family provided. The girls eventually joined their mother and stepfather in America.
Hogg later opened Baby Technique, a baby equipment store in Encino, Calif., and co-wrote two more books with journalist Melinda Blau. “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers” was published in 2002; “The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems” will be released in January. She also hosted the TV program “The Baby Whisperer” on the Discovery Health channel.
Hogg died on Nov. 25 of melanoma. She was 44.
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby Download “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer”


Mona Van Duyn

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Categories: Education, Writers/Editors

mvanduyn.jpgMona Jane Van Duyn, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and America’s first female poet laureate, died on Dec. 2 of bone cancer. She was 83.
The Iowa native was only five years old when she began writing poetry. A voracious reader, Van Duyn haunted the local library and secretly penned poems in her notebooks because her father didn’t approve of such activities. Van Duyn graduated from Iowa State Teachers College in 1942, then received a master’s degree from the University of Iowa. The next year, she launched her academic career by teaching English at UI.
Van Duyn married Jarvis A. Thurston a few months after they met in a writing class in 1943. She spent several decades teaching at Washington University in St. Louis, where Thurston was the former chairman of the English department. Together they founded “Perspective: A Quarterly of Literature,” and edited the magazine for 30 years.
In 1959, Van Duyn published her first book of poetry “Valentines to the Wide World.” Eight other volumes followed, including “To See, To Take,” which won the National Book Award in 1971 and “Near Changes,” the collection that earned her a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1991. Over the course of her four-decade writing career, Van Duyn also won the Bollingen Prize, the Carl Sandburg Prize of Cornell College, the Hart Crane Memorial Award, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and the Shelley Memorial Prize of the Poetry Society of America. She was the sixth poet, and the first woman, named U.S. poet laureate in 1992.
Van Duyn battled depression throughout her life. The medication she took made it difficult to work, and she stopped writing eight years ago. Her final poetry collection, “Selected Poems,” was published in 2002.
Listen to Van Duyn Read “Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri”
Read Poems From “Selected Poems”


Verona Johnston

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Categories: Education, Extraordinary People

Emma Verona Calhoun Johnston, the oldest person in America and the second oldest in the world, died on Dec. 1. She was 114.
Born on Aug. 6, 1890, in Indianola, Iowa, Johnston was the eighth of nine children born to Civil War veteran Joseph Calhoun and Emma Speer Calhoun. She graduated from Drake University in 1912, then taught Latin in several Iowa high schools. Once women earned the right to vote in 1920, Johnston participated in the political process. She voted in every election since then, and even cast an absentee ballot in November.
Verona was married to Harry Johnston, an ophthalmologist, until his death in 1971. In recent years, she traveled across Europe and read many books. The supercentenarian remained healthy and alert until a few months ago. She never used the deductible on her health insurance policy and reportedly had the thinnest file on record at her doctor’s office.
Johnston moved to Ohio when she was 98 to live with her daughter Julie Johnson, 81, and Julie’s husband Bruce, 83. She is survived by her four children, 13 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. An exhibit honoring her long life will be displayed in the lobby of the Cowles Library on the Drake University campus.


Tulley Brown


Categories: Education

Tulley Brown, the founder of an influential after-school program for at-risk youths, died on Nov. 13 of heart failure. He was 72.
The Los Angeles native earned a political science degree from Occidental College in California, served in the Army for two years, then did missionary work in Hong Kong. He returned to Los Angeles in the 1960s and landed a job as a sales executive. In his spare time, Brown built a library for a halfway house that helped troubled teens.
When a thief stole his car in 1967, and he learned that the criminal was both an orphan and a high school dropout, Brown decided to develop a program that would keep disadvantaged children off the streets. A year later, he founded Direction Sports, an after-school program for children age 7 to 19.
Using college students as tutors and coaches, Direction Sports drew hundreds of participants from all over Los Angeles. The children studied before basketball practice and competed academically during weekend games. A typical activity involved answering spelling or math questions while shooting hoops. Correct answers were required for each basket to count.
“There are lots of programs out there to teach or give youth quality time, but not many know how to empower. Giving them a sense of their own worth develops the reservoir from which every other good endeavor flows,” Brown said in a 1992 interview with The Christian Science Monitor.
Within 10 years, Direction Sports became one of the most successful urban programs in America. A UCLA study showed that students who went through the program had better test scores than students who didn’t receive the specialized tutoring. In 1974, the program began working with juvenile offenders. Two years later, the Los Angeles Probation Department reported that delinquent graduates of the Direction Sports programs in Watts and Compton had a recidivism rate of 2 percent; the national average at that time was 50 percent.
Direction Sports expanded to nine other cities, but was scaled back in the 1980s after many of its government grants were cut during the Reagan administration. The program was shut down entirely in the mid-1990s when private funding dried up and Brown took time off to care for his wife, Jackie. She died of cancer in 1997.


Samuel Billison


Categories: Education, Military

Samuel Billison, a Navajo code talker and educator, died on Nov. 17 of heart complications. He was believed to be 79 or 80.

Billison was born on a Navajo reservation in Ganado, Ariz. After finishing high school in 1943, he enlisted in the Marines. Billison’s fluency in English and in the complex Navajo language made him the perfect candidate for a “code talker.”

During World War II, these Marines were trained to use a secret code based on the Navajo language to encrypt orders relayed over walkie-talkies. Billison and five other Navajo code talkers transmitted more than 800 error-free messages at Iwo Jima.

Neither the Germans nor the Japanese ever cracked their code.

Billison later earned an associate’s degree from Bacone College in Bacone, Okla., a bachelor’s degree from East Central State University in Ada, Okla., a master’s degree from Oklahoma University and a doctorate in education from the University of Arizona. He became a certified K-12 teacher, a high school principal and the superintendent of the Navajo Area School Board Association.

After the war, the Department of Defense ordered the code talkers not to discuss their military experiences. Though honorably discharged, their contributions remained classified until 1968.

For the next four decades, Billison traveled around the world sharing tales of the code talkers’ World War II exploits. He served as the president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, and provided the voice of Hasbro’s Navajo Code Talker GI Joe doll. In 2001, he received the Congressional Silver Medal.

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