Making an Impact

DKG California 
Educational - Professional - Making an Impact

California State Organization

Educators Book Award Archive

Contact the Chi State Education Center for more information on borrowing the Educators Award Book.

July 2012

Teach With Your Strengths

Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller

     What do truly great teachers do differently?  

     This book Teach WithYour Strengths by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller with Jennifer Robison looks at the characteristics of a great teacher.  The authors found that all great teachers are alike in a key way – they use their natural talents to the utmost, whether they are aware of these talents or not.  These great teachers all share an uncanny, innate ability to reach and help people learn. What’s more, great teachers don’t waste time on their weaknesses if those weaknesses don’t interfere with their teaching, although they do manage weaknesses if they must.  Another key finding was that great teachers are, in the best way, unorthodox.  They work by instinct and use approaches that succeed for them in reaching different students.  These teachers can differentiate between what they have been taught about teaching that is useful and what is not.  The authors point out the three things that great teachers do “wrong” but for the “right” reasons.  They:  1) create flexible structure, 2) share control and 3) express emotions.  Students learn more from teachers who laugh with them, cheer with them, and sometimes, cry with them.

     The authors describe Signature themes as the basis for introspection and development of the inherent talents of teachers and students. About half the book is dedicated to describing the 34 themes of talent measured by the Clifton Strengths Finder and discussing this assessment as a means to find one’s strengths.

Nancy Summy, Iota Sigma, II           

May/June 2012

The Power to Transform

Stephanie Pace Marshall, Ph.D.

           Stephanie Pace Marshall, Ph.D, current president and founder of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, feels curiosity is the key to learning and gives a person the motivation to explore worldwide experiences in her book The Power to Transform.

            Asking students questions rather than giving information inspires students through collaboration with other students to develop their own methods to answer questions by determining what information is needed, what needs to be done to research the material; and when the information is gathered, what conclusions are reached.  The students can then, through the design of the questions and the guidance of the teacher, pose possible problem solving actions that can be taken to resolve any problems that occur. By evaluating each action, through cooperative means, they can determine which course of action would be the best way to solve the problem.

            Real-life challenges give relevancy to the learning experience while still teaching the standards developed by the state and school districts.

            Stephanie Pace Marshall refers to it as "generative learning" which involves inquiry, interdependence and collaboration. Interdependence and collaboration are essential parts of existing in today’s world.

            Marshall’s precepts give life long guidelines to follow:


            Your integrity, not your position 

            Your voice, not your power

            Your name, not your title

            Your calling, not your career

            Your legacy, not your success.

Marie Sugiyama, Gamma Tau, I

April 2012

Beatrix Potter A Life in Nature

Linda Lear

            Linda Lear in this book tells us about Beatrix Potter and her writing. Beatrix Potter was an artist and writer who found her personal and intellectual freedom in nature.  She was a woman of her time, yet she produced art and story that are timeless.  Mrs. William Heelis, Beatrix Potter, was the acclaimed creator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and the author/illustrator of over twenty other little books for children. The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse is the most autobiographical of Potter’s little books. Her foray into mycology was accidental, and her love of painting fungi led to the inner circle of the scientific establishment.  By 1903 she had emerged as a writer and artist who was an expert at story telling and illustrations; she also had a sense of how to market her creations.  Her Hill Top farm and surrounding areas were an integral part of both her life and her imagination; it also was the source of her income in the real world.  Her absorbing interest in the restoration of the Lake district became her passion. In 1913 the War made little difference to Beatrix and William, because of help from her American friends sending books and food parcels.  She said, “If I have done anything - even a little - to help small children on the road to enjoy and appreciate honest simple pleasures - of the sort that leads to becoming Boy Scouts or Girl Guides - I have done a biof good”.


Karen Krenvosky, Gamma Omega, IV

February March 2012

The Secret Language of Dolphins
Patricia St. John

          This most interesting book titled The Secret Language of Dolphins received the 1992 Delta Kappa Gamma Society Educator’s Award.  The author Patricia St. John was nearly blind until she was eight years old.  She learned to control her eye muscles and her other senses with the help of exercises.  She realized that her heightened sensory awareness reflected a basic part of her nature – the need to survive and to interact with other people. St. John’s two year research into the behavior of dolphins revealed the connection between the dolphin’s behavior patterns and those of autistic children.  St. John took the opportunity to share what she had learned with autistic children and she at once was accepted by them.  She let the children take the lead in communication as she had with the dolphins.  She was able to find the middle ground where both sides are safe and feel free to pursue further communication. She helped to break the barrier between autistic children and the people who only depend upon verbal language.  The book includes many examples of Patricia St. John’s interaction with autistic children and the impact that the special communication had upon them.  So many of us as teachers have had autistic children in our classrooms.  I do hope you will check this book out of our Chi State Education Center Library and enjoy the lessons Patricia St. John has to offer.

Sandy Rushing, Beta Phi, XIV

January 2012

Nina Burleigh


            Nina Burleigh elegantly chronicles the 1798 Egyptian adventures of Paris’ small corps, the brightest and most intellectual of scientists.  Under the command of Napoleon’s French Army, their ambitious, beautiful and flawed contributions led to better East and West understandings.

            At best, the luckier men ate bits of camel meat and rice; otherwise it was a ration of biscuits and green dates.  Belaboring under exhausting conditions, which made death seem peaceful and pleasant, the Geometers and Chemists took closer looks at rocks, animal bones and antiquities sticking out of the sand.  Having lost most everything at sea, Conte’, the Inventor, planned and implemented the necessities for life.  In Cairo the Engineers were fascinated by the oldest man-made structures, and noted that the Sphinx body was”to be under the sand”.  They were also charged with surveying a possible canal that would cut the Isthmus of Suez, and in the process discovered what is known as The Rosetta Stone.  Plague was the greatest foe for the 50,000 French from which possibly 10,000 perished.  Dr. Larrey’s “flying ambulance”, a camel outfitted to move the sick, reduced deaths.  Sketching relics of ancient architectural monuments and tomb interiors, the Artists recorded ancient history.  Savigny, a Naturalist, drew a myriad of avian life and invertebrates. Others collected mummies, living animals and studied the art of embalming. Geoffroy’s idea that life forms had changed over time led in the direction of the Theory of Evolution.

            Spring 1801 was the beginning of the end of the French Campaign, losing 15,000 men.  They had forfeited Egypt and the Rosetta Stone to their enemy, the English.


Karen Krenovsky, Gamma Omega, Area IV

December 2011

Nobody Don’t Love Nobody

Lessons on Love from the School with No Name

Stacey Bess


             Stacey Bess has authored a delightful book and captivating story set in 1984 in Salt Lake City. Stacey Bess, a new teacher in need of a job, accepts a job teaching children in one of the first homeless shelters in that city.  Stacey describes her experiences teaching elementary students in a shelter where their families could stay for a period of up to 90 days at a time.
          The author describes her fears and challenges while teaching disadvantaged children, with minimal supplies, while the shelter provides only basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and security.  Stacey finds herself learning day by day as she develops a love for the children.
          On occasion she brings children home to live with her family so they can experience a stable family life.
          This heartfelt story was later made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie “Beyond the Blackboard”.  It was filled with the personal stories of the children she taught and grew to know and love.
          The story of the teaching challenges Stacey encounters makes this book.  Nobody Don’t Love Nobody very relevant for teachers today. Her story is an inspiring reminder of how one person can make a difference in the lives of children.


Nancy Summy, Iota Sigma, Area II

November 2011

Overwhelmed Coping with Life’s Ups and Downs

Nancy K. Schlossberg


     The book is easy to read and helpful for those of us who at times have transitions, quick changes

and stress in our busy lives.  The book is divided into three parts.  This makes it easy for rereading, researching or reviewing.  At the end of each chapter are summaries and or guidelines you may

follow as you take inventory of how you handle your ever-changing life adventure.

     I found the book to be current, evaluative and great in the self-help process.  After reading the book

you have more knowledge into how you personally handle life situations.  The importance of family, friends, belief, and therapy are all part of the tools necessary in the gaining of understanding of how

to cope with your life transitions.  According to the author, the major steps in mastering change are Approaching Change, Taking Stock, and Taking Charge.

     This book was written in 1989.  It is viable today in our mobile society.  The excerpts of people who

were in many different circumstances are exceptional.  I enjoyed the book very much and find each summary at the chapter’s end is very useful in coping with life’s ups and downs.


Betty Brown, Beta Lambda, Area II


October 2011

Mental Fitness for Life

S. Cusack and W.Thompson


     The emphasis of the book Mental Fitness for Life is maintaining an active brain for mental fitness throughout life. This book is written by S. Cusack and W. Thompson.  Research indicates that people who learn something entirely different in the “third age” (over 50), have an edge.  When the brain starts to think “sideways” (laterally), it solves problems in different ways. Developing the mind includes coping skills, a positive attitude and setting personal goals.

     “Goal setting”, shaping one’s own vision, is the most important component, because it’s where a sense of meaning and purpose in life is found.  “Power thinking” involves replacing negative thoughts with those that provide needed power and energy.  The challenge is to develop a legitimate social purpose for all who share the possibility of living to a very old age.  New and better beliefs allow the best use of one’s strengths, abilities and talents.  O. W. Holmes wrote “The Mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimension.” Creative thinking through the use of imagination, intuition and dreams, springs new ideas without judging, censoring or stifling.  A positive mental attitude puts a favorable spin on everything and expects the best.  All components of mental fitness are interconnected so closely that one cannot be without the other.  Some older people need more time to process information because they have to filter through vast stores of knowledge, and information must be relevant or they won’t bother to remember.  Speaking the mind, daily, builds confidence and a sense of joy in life.

     The hope is to take any activity, any art, any skill and grow to a new creative place.


Karen Krenovsky, Gamma Omega, IV

September 2011

Life in the Tree Tops

Margaret Lowman

            How does one combine career and parenthood, especially when one’s career is “climbing trees”?  Life in the Tree Tops is the compelling story of Margaret D. Lowman, a field biologist. 


            The beginning pages of this book give the reader a visual timeline in words and photos of the author’s life.  A world map gives you a view of the author’s canopy site, her professional home.


            Margaret Lowman writes that the physical challenges of being a field biologist are not nearly as difficult as the emotional issues she faces in her life.  How is she able to balance her love of being a scientist working on rain forest conservation with her home life?  She writes about women in science and how she wanted to pursue conservation issues but resuming a career after marriage seemed improbable, if not impossible.


Letty Yamada, Gamma Omega, Area IV