Wall, who wants to learn how students' needs have changed and how teachers are trying to meet those needs, has hit the road with plans to substitute in school districts nationwide. She had been one of the top candidates for her former boss's job.
But as basic-education commissioner, Wall had become aware of "the distance between educational policy and actual teaching in the classroom.'' Decisionmakers in education, she observes, tend to base policy on the experience they had in the past. Wall, who had not taught in 15 years, thought it was time for a dose of reality.
Donna Wall is not the only highranking education official in Pennsylvania to take up teaching. Former Secretary of Education Thomas Gilhool (below), Wall's former boss, is seeking a teaching position in the Philadelphia public school system.
Gilhool, a lawyer who was often criticized during his stint as state school chief for not being a professional educator, passed the exam for elementary school teachers, was awarded an intern certificate in elementary education and social studies, and is awaiting a teaching assignment.
In compliance with state guidelines, Gilhool must earn the academic credits required for full certification; he is taking classes at the University of Pennsylvania.
Six-year-old dinosaur expert Christine Harbster (left) caught the U.S. Postal Service's "mistake'': The dinosaur on a new stamp is an apatosaurus, not a brontosaurus. But the Postal Service, which issued 4.4 billion stamp sets as part of an unprecedented marketing campaign that includes posters and T-shirts, says the stamp was supposed to be wrong. "We knew the scientific community went by the name apatosaurus,'' a Postal Service official says. "We made a conscious decision to use brontosaurus because the general public still knows and recognizes the dinosaur by that name.''
Raymond Rye, a specialist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, shares Christine's concern over the stamp. "We're pushing for scientific literacy,'' he says. "How can you achieve that when you're using the wrong name? I think the post office missed a golden opportunity to have fun and educate the public at the same time.''
Jane Harley (above) is trying to build a road to stardom stretching from the nation's capital to the Big Apple. Last year, the retired elementary school teacher set up her own amateur-night tryouts at Howard University's Blackburn Center and began busing successful kids--ones who get high ratings on her electronic applause meter-- to New York City to compete at the Apollo Theater's famous amateur-night tryouts. Young people need to have something positive in their lives, Harley says, "instead of all the drugs and other things out there that hold them back.''