Helen Keller


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Did you know that Helen Keller was born today in 1880? When she was 19 months old, she became very sick and lost her sight and hearing. When she was about 6, Anne Sullivan came to teach Helen Keller how to communicate. Helen Keller continued her education, learned how to speak, use braille, and ‘read’ sign language with her hands. She attended schools for the deaf and then graduated from college. She became a skilled writer, lecturer, and an example that deaf or blind people were just as capable as those who could hear and see.

We hope that you have a perceptive day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
June 27 is also Hellen Keller Day. President Jimmy Carter authorized the holiday in 1980 on the 100th anniversary of her birth.

Helen Keller was the first blind and deaf person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from Radcliffe College.

Anne Sullivan started as Keller’s teacher, then became her governess and eventually companion. Their relationship lasted 49 years. Helen Keller’s ashes are buried next to Anne Sullivan in the National Cathedral in Washington DC.

Helen Keller was an advocate for the deaf, blind, and people with disabilities. She was also a suffragette, pacifist, socialist, and helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union.

Helen Keller travelled to over 40 countries.

Helen Keller met with every president from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson. Lyndon B. Johnson awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.

Helen Keller was friends with many influential figures including Alexander Graham Bell, Charlie Chaplin, and Mark Twain.

Father’s Day


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Did you know that in the United States, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June? Father’s Day is a holiday to celebrate fathers and fatherhood. The first recorded Father’s Day celebration in the United States actually occurred on July 5, 1908. However, the celebration was not immediately popular. Different individuals and towns had their own celebrations on different days of the year and sometimes not every year. It wasn’t until 1972 that Father’s Day was made a permanent national holiday by President Richard Nixon.

We hope that you have a grateful day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
In different countries around the world, Father’s Day is celebrated on different days.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson tried to make Father’s Day a holiday, but Congress resisted. There was worry and concern that the potential holiday would become as commercialized as Mother’s Day.

In 1910, Sonora Smart Dodd started a Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington. Her community celebrated the holiday until 1920 when she left to study.  She returned in 1930 and started promoting the holiday again.

In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended that the holiday be observed, but did not make it a national proclamation.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a presidential proclamation, which designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.

Valentina Tereshkova


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Did you know that in 1963, Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to have flown in space? Valentina Tereshkova was an astronaut from the Soviet Union and part of the Vostok 6 mission. The goal of the mission was to study how human bodies react to spaceflight. The space flight lasted 3 days and Valentina Tereshkova orbited the Earth 48 times. During the flight, she wrote notes in the flight log, piloted the spacecraft, spoke with government leaders over the radio, and took photos of the Earth’s horizon.

We hope that you have an pioneering day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
A cosmonaut is another word for astronaut.

Before becoming a cosmonaut, Valentina was a textile-factory assembly worker. She was also an amateur skydiver.

Valentina Tereshkova’s call sign was ‘Chaika’, or seagull

The pictures she took of the Earth’s horizon during her spaceflight were used to identify the layers of Earth’s atmosphere.

During her flight, she spoke with Nikita Khrushchev. A camera was also installed on the inside of Vostok 6 so her video was show on state television.

After she was retired by presidential order from the Cosmonaut Corps and the Russian Air Force, Valentina became a politician and representative of the Soviet Union. In 2011 she was elected to the State Duma.

Valentina Tereshkova was a torch bearer in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and a carrier of the Olympic Flag during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Valentina Tereshkova offered to go on a one-way trip to Mars if the opportunity arose.

Wilbert Awdry / Thomas the Tank Engine


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Did you know that Wilbert Awdry was born today in 1911? As a child Wilbert Awdry lived near a railway line and he could hear the trains communicating by whistle and the sounds of the train engines as they worked. In 1943, Wilbert Awdry’s son was sick with measles and quarantined in a dark room. To cheer him up, Awdry created stories about trains who worked together. Later, these stories were written down and published as The Railway Series, which takes place on the fictional Island of Sodor. The characters in these books are known and loved by children all over the world – especially Thomas the Tank Engine.

We hope that you have an imaginative day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Wilbert Awdry is sometimes known as Reverend W. Awdry.

From 1945 to 1972, Wilbert Awdry wrote 26 books in The Railway Series. His son Christopher has added other books to the series.

Wilbert Awdry was a railway enthusiast. He was involved with railway preservation projects and built model trails and railways. As such, many of the stories in The Railway Series are based off of real-life events, situations, trains, and railways.

Although Thomas the Tank Engine is the most popular character in The Railway Series, he did not appear in the first of The Railway Series books. Henry, Edward, and Gordon were the trains in the first book

Wilbert Awdry also wrote other children’s stories such as Belinda the Beetle, about a car.

Harriet Beecher Stowe


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Did you know that Harriet Beecher Stowe was born today in 1811? She was an American author and abolitionist. An abolitionist is someone who works to end slavery and the slave trade. Harriet Beecher Stowe and her husband both supported the Underground Railroad; her experiences influenced some of her later writing. During her lifetime, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote 30 books. She wrote novels, books about her travels, and letters. One of her most famous works was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which described the awfulness of slavery in a way that helped many people understand why slavery needed to be abolished or stopped.

We hope that you have compassionate day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s family was well-known. Her father, Lyman Beecher, was a preacher. One of her sisters, Catherine Beecher, was an educator and also an author. Her brothers, Henry Ward Beecher, Charles Beecher, and Edward Beecher, were ministers.

Harriet Beecher Stowe traveled to Washington DC to meet with President Abraham Lincoln. Supposedly, President Lincoln said of Harriet Beecher Stowe, “so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war”.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was one of the founders of the Hartford Art School, which eventually became part of the University of Hartford.

Mark Twain was one of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s neighbors when she lived in Hartford Connecticut.

Frances Burney



Did you know that Frances Burney was born today in 1752? She was an author and playwright. She started writing her first novel and plays when she was a child. During her life she wrote 4 novels, 8 plays, 1 biography, and 20 volumes of journals and letters. As a teenager, she started to write in her journal and continued to add entries to her journal for 72 years. Frances Burney’s journal entries, novels, and plays give us an idea of what life in the 18th century.

We hope that you have a journal-worthy day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Frances Burney’s works inspired other writers such as Jane Austen and William Makepeace Thackeray.

Supposedly, by the age of 8, Frances Burney still had not learned the alphabet. Some scholars suggest that Frances may have suffered from dyslexia. While her sisters were sent to Paris to be educated, Frances Burney was kept at home and mostly self-educated. Many scholars see Frances Burney as someone who worked very hard to overcome a childhood disability.

When she was 34, Frances Burney was offered the post “Keeper of the Robes” for Queen Charlotte. Although the job was very demanding Frances developed a warm relationship with the Queen and the Princesses.

Frances Burney married General Alexandre D’Arblay in 1793. Frances’ father initially disapproved of the marriage. In 1801, Frances moved to Paris with her husband and young son. They were only supposed to remain there for a year, but the start of the war between England and France extended the stay to ten years.

Frances Burney possibly had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. Considering this was before anesthetics, she was conscious, feeling, and aware during the procedure. Her first-person account, sent to her sister, is one of the earliest accounts of a mastectomy.

At the time, women were discouraged from writing or publishing. Frances destroyed her first written novel, and her first published novel was done so anonymously. Nevertheless, her father guessed the truth. As this news spread, Frances Burney gained almost immediate fame with the success of her first published novel.

Some of Frances Burney’s works include: Evelina, Cecilia, Camilla, The Witlings, and The Wanderer.

Patrick Gass


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Did you know that Patrick Gass was born today in 1771? He joined the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804. Patrick Gass was a skilled carpenter and helped to make dugout canoes, construct winter quarters, and build wagons to carry canoes and supplies when they had to portage (travel overland around waterfalls). He published the first journal and account of the expedition in 1807, seven years before Lewis and Clark’s journals. In his journal he was the first to use the phrase “Corps of Discovery” to describe the Lewis and Clark expedition.

We hope that you have a journal-worthy day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Patrick Gass joined the Virgina Militia in 1792. Patrick Gass helped to build the house of the future President of the United States, James Buchanan, Jr. In 1799 he joined the U.S. Army and served under General Alexander Hamilton.

Patrick Gass also served during the War of 1812.

During the Civil War, Patrick Gass had to be removed from a recruiting station. He wanted to volunteer, even though he was 91 years old.

Patrick Gass was the oldest surviving member of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Samuel Slater


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Did you know that Samuel Slater was born today in 1768 in Belper, England? He started working in cotton mills when he was just 10 years old, and gained an extensive knowledge of how the machinery and businesses worked. When he was 21, he immigrated to America and started to help build and develop mills that produced thread, yarn, cloth, and more. Slater Mill, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is the first water-powered and mechanized cotton-spinning mill in America. In America, he is known as “The Father of the American Industrial Revolution”. In the United Kingdom he is known as “Slater the Traitor”.

We hope that you have an industrious day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
He started working in cotton mills when he was just 10 years old.

There were British laws against exporting designs for the factories and machinery for spinning cotton and weaving textiles. Samuel Slater was aware of these laws when he learned of the American efforts to build textile mills. He memorized as much as he could of how the machines worked and how they were designed before immigrating to America.

Slater’s success spurred other entrepreneurs to build their own factories and mills. In 1810, there were about 50 cotton-yarn mills in America. In 1815 there were over 140, just in the Providence, Rhode Island area.

Samuel Slater eventually owned 13 spinning mills. In many cases he created company towns around the mills he built which including housing for the factory workers, stores, farms, churches, and Sunday Schools for the children (who often started working at the mills at the age of 7).

In 1966, Slater Mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2014, Slater Mill was added to the Blackstone River Valley National Historic Park.

Giovanni Domenico Cassini


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Did you know that Giovanni Domenico Cassini was born today in 1625? As an astronomer, he helped to establish Johannes Kepler’s theory that the Earth orbits the Sun. Later he calculated the distance between Earth and the planet Mars, which helped estimate the size of the solar system. Cassini also discovered 4 of the 62 known moons of Saturn and what appeared to be a gap in the rings around Saturn, which is now known as the Cassini Division. The Cassini space probe, which was launched in 1997 to study Saturn, is named after him.

We hope that you have a perceptive day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Giovanni Domenico Cassini was also a mathematician and engineer. As an engineer, Cassini helped to build and maintain fortifications and structures to help manage rivers and flooding.

The names of the 4 moons Cassini discovered are Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys, and Dione. He initially called them Sidera Lodociea, or the “Stars of Louis”. One of the moons, Iapetus, varied in brightness while it was observed. Cassini attributed that to the moon being made of materials with different dark and lightness.

Giovanni Domenico Cassini shares the credit for discovering the Great Red Spot on Jupiter with Robert Hooke.

Giovanni Domenico Cassini started a project to create a topographic map of France. His son, Jacques Cassini, also worked on the project. Cesar-Francois Cassini de Thury, Giovanni Domenico Cassini’s grandson completed the project in 1789. It was the first topographical map of an entire country.

Virginia Apgar


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Did you know that Virginia Apgar was born today in 1909? She was a doctor who researched how to improve the health of newborn babies and developed the Apgar Score. The Apgar Score helps doctors evaluate the health of a newborn baby and to decide if the baby needs immediate medical assistance. Aside from teaching at prestigious universities, Virginia Apgar also travelled thousands of miles each year to teach doctors and women ways to prevent birth defects and improve the wellbeing and health of mothers and their babies.

We hope that you have a vigorous day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Virginia Apgar was a leader in the study of anesthesiology and teratology. Teratology is the study of abnormalities of physical development. This can include congenital abnormalities or birth defects, or abnormalities that occur later in life. It also includes studying substances or environmental factors that might cause these abnormalities.

Virginia Apgar was the director of the anesthesiology division at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She also worked at Sloane Hospital for Women, and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Hygiene. She received many honorary degrees and awards for her research and work.

Virginia Apgar also worked for the March of Dimes.

The APGAR score checks the skin color, pulse rate, reflexes, activity level, and respiratory effort of a newborn. A newborn is checked one and five minutes after the are born. Another way of remembering these topics is Appearance, Pulse Rate, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration.