Two Million Strong
The National Education Association, the nation's largest labor union, has identified Nellie Gonzalez, a speech and language specialist at Engelwood Elementary School in Orlando, Fla., as its two-millionth member. NEA President Keith Geiger flew to Orlando to welcome Gonzalez to the 132-year-old organization.
The Gift Of Life
Teaching is just one of Teresa Smith's (right) gifts: In late November, Smith, a 4th grade teacher from Shertz, Tex., gave a portion of her own liver to her daughter Alyssa, whose diseased liver needed replacing. The operation was the first live liver transplant ever performed in the United States. A University of Chicago Medical Center surgical team performed the successful operation, which was closely watched by transplant surgeons who hope to use the technique to save the more than 700 babies born each year with liver disease. Because the liver regenerates itself, a portion taken from a parent or sibling will grow within a child recipient, and the donor's liver will grow back to its normal size.
The Baltic Bard
When Vitalija Keblys fled Lithuania in 1945 just ahead of the invading Russian army, she never imagined she would return one day to acclaim. Last summer, Keblys--now a high school chemistry teacher in Baton Rouge, La.--won the Salomeja Neris prize, one of the country's most prestigous poetry honors. She traveled to Lithuania to claim her 500 ruble prize and to participate in the national poetry festival, which draws crowds comparable to those at American football games. Keblys writes in her native tongue and publishes under her maiden name, Bogutaite. "I'm strictly a Lithuanian poet,'' Keblys says. "I teach in English and write in Lithuanian.'' --Lisa Wolcott