Which One Doesn’t Belong? Wins Mathical Award

Which One Doesn't Belong w awardChristopher Danielson, a mathematics author, teacher, and curriculum developer from Minnesota, has won the Mathical Prize for his book, Which One Doesn’t Belong? A Shapes Book.

The award will be presented to Danielson on April 22 by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) at the National Math Festival in Washington, DC. Danielson won the award in the Grades 3-5 category.

“For a number of years I have longed for a better shapes book,” said Danielson. “I wanted a shapes book that gives space for noticing relationships, asking questions, and thinking together,” said Danielson. “I designed Which One Doesn’t Belong? to be an invitation to a mathematical conversation.”

The book–which is intended to be used by children, parents, and teachers–features sets of four shapes with the recurring question, “which one doesn’t belong?’ Any of the shapes can be the right answer; the key is getting kids to justify their answer in their own language. The school version comes with an extensive teacher’s guide, including an “answers key” that describes one possible argument that can be made for each shape in the book. Which One Doesn’t Belong? and the teacher’s guide can both be ordered from Stenhouse.

Which One Doesn’t Belong? encourages children to use mathematical thinking to explore new concepts,” wrote the committee who awarded the prize. “The layout is brilliant and in classroom testing, children were active readers, enthusiastic to share their insights and justifications in the discussion. Perhaps the best feature is that questions have no single, simple answer!”

Danielson has worked with math learners of all ages—12 year-olds in his former middle school classroom, Calculus students at Normandale Community College, teachers in professional development, and young children and their families at Math On-A-Stick at the Minnesota State Fair. He designs curriculum at Desmos. He is the author of Common Core Math For Parents For Dummies, the shapes book Which One Doesn’t Belong?, and the forthcoming counting book How Many? He blogs about teaching on Overthinking My Teaching, and for parents at Talking Math with Your Kids. He earned his B.A. in mathematics from Boston University, his M.A. in Education from the University of Michigan, and his Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from Michigan State University.

The Mathical Book Prize is organized by MSRI in partnership with the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) and the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

Add comment April 21st, 2017

Strategies That Work – images from you

As we prepare for the publication of the new, third edition of Strategies That Work, we enjoyed seeing pictures of your well-loved and used copies of the previous two editions. The winner who will receive a free copy of the new edition is Karla Silbernagel. Here are some of the images you sent us:

 

Add comment April 17th, 2017

A Sketch in Time: Poets Painting the Moment

We are excited to again celebrate National Poetry Month with the help of poet Shirley McPhillips, author of Poem Central. She introduces us to “word sketches” as a way of slowing down, noticing details, finding the wonder if everyday details. She offers some ideas for trying out word sketches in the classroom.

A Sketch in Time: Poets Painting the Moment
By Shirley McPhillips

The poet, in the novelty of his images, is always the origin of language.

—Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

One morning this fall, I found myself walking in circles—this time by design. A teen’s Boy Scout project resulted in fashioning a labyrinth on the lush green lawn of his church. A labyrinth—not a maze intended to confuse, but a circular pathway for thoughtful or meditative walking, intended to soothe and heal. At first it was hard to quiet my mind. Walking the labyrinth over time, however, my feet found a rhythm. My mind centered as if following a heartbeat.

Yet still, the rattling times we live in can knock attention, rapid fire, from one matter to the next. Even nature seems to join in with erratic weather patterns—disorienting record heat in February followed by epic arctic blasts. But the lesson of the labyrinth becomes a touchstone: allow the quiet voice inside you to speak; put your attention to the mysteries of a moment, find the surprise, feel the wonder.

Writing “word sketches” is one way teacher-writers and their students can practice finding the wonder in moments of their daily lives. Anyone can train the eye by frequent sketching—slowing the gaze to follow the lines of an object. A simple sketch a day (a coffee cup, a candle, a pear, a chair), even done quickly, can result over time in “seeing” of a different kind—noticing the drama of light and dark, the intricacy of detail and design, the subtle vigor of white space. Writing short word sketches holds the same promise.

shirley

The sophistication of the word sketches will, of course, depend upon the experience of the writers and will vary one from another. But, we can start with paying attention: jotting in our notebooks, making lists of what we see—on a walk to school, driving to work, looking out the window.

-a wet street

-a sparrow

-white chairs

-an old plate

As we go, we find our “noticings” becoming more particular and nuanced, especially if we share them, chart them, join others in finding things intriguing.

Next, we’ll want to get some language around what we notice. What else? Where? Doing what? Make a picture.

-the wet street streaked with colors

-a sparrow peeking out of a drainpipe

-two white chairs at the beach

-a plate with cracks in it

Zoom in closer. Enter the moment as if it were a painting. Look around with all your senses. Find the uniqueness. Get out the paints. Don’t be afraid to find unusual words to paint with.

Jack pictures himself walking along a wet side street in his boots. Colors from the buildings are reflected in the rain. His elaborated sketch has the tone and brevity of haiku.

On a narrow street

rain paints a watercolor—

amber, peach—

boots brush a slick design.

Shuyi imagines the sparrow working tirelessly to make a home in such an ignoble place. We know, without any mention of a nest. A true poet.

The sparrow

has built its palace

in a drainpipe.

Mr. Vitturi writes a pure image. Then, like Shuyi, pushes himself to imagine something surprising.

Two white chairs, sunwashed,

sit side by side at the beachfront—

a seat for seagulls.

Sometimes word sketches can be the start of a longer image. Or they can find their way into an elaborated poem. Often, looking back through my notebook, I find lines that seem right in a new poem. Lila pushes past the “cracked plate” observation to find the heart of a longer poem based on a personal story. She sticks very close to the image, revealing “the poem within the poem.” We can see how her practice with observation and detail, her sense of image, sticks with her as she composes “The Cracked Plate.”

Afternoon tea, with tea things spread out

on a lace scarf she made

when she was an English girl,

thin now like the skin of her hands,

lifting the delicate pot to pour.

We sit and talk about different things,

like the cookies on the cracked plate

with the castle scene and the gold rim,

some of this and some of that.

 

The way we lift our cups and our cookies

to our lips. The way she says, “Do have another,

my dear,” lifting up the cracked plate that holds

so much of what we love.

6 comments April 4th, 2017

Read, Apply, Learn

At Stenhouse, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to create resources that are useful for teachers. We are always eager to hear how teachers, coaches, and administrators use our books, videos, and courses in practice. That’s why we’re especially excited about Jill Gough and Jennifer Wilson’s upcoming NCSM preconference. In it, they’ll be talking about how they use professional literature to grow their teaching practice. How do they apply what they’ve read? How do they collaborate, both in-person and online, to reflect on that application with their colleagues? What new learning and productive changes in teaching practice result from that work?

We asked Jennifer and Jill for a sneak peek of their session, and we’re happy to share it with you here. We hope you can join them in San Antonio, or follow along online.

Read, Apply, Learn
By Jill Gough and Jennifer Wilson

In Kindergarten Reading Workshop this week, the teaching point was when we want to learn new things, we first read what experts say. Now, it is clear that we are preparing our young learners for a unit on nonfiction reading and on research.  What if we transfer that simple, direct teaching point to our own work?

We set three goals this year as a team of teachers committed to narrowing the achievement gap for our learners. These goals are to learn more math, to scale what we learn across our schools, and to more deeply understand the Standards for Mathematical Practices.  With these goals, we have to ask, what do experts say?

We have been reading a lot lately, and we have been considering how to share what we are trying and learning in both our home communities and in a more global community. We are now studying and strongly recommend 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Mary Kay Stein and Margaret Smith, NCTM’s publication, Principles to Action,  The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle,  Beyond Answers: Exploring Mathematical Practices with Young Children from Mike Flynn, and Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms by Tracy Zager and more.

In Beyond Answers, Mike Flynn suggests “We need to give students the opportunity to develop their own rich and deep understanding of our number system. With that understanding, they will be able to develop and use a wide array of strategies in ways that make sense for the problem at hand.” How might we slow down to afford our students the opportunity to develop their own deep understanding and grow their own mathematical flexibility? What will be gained when our young learners have acquired a deep foundation of understanding, confidence, and competence?

BeyondAnswersFlynn

In Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had, Tracy Zager encourages us to engage our learners in productive struggle so that they are “challenged and learning”. She writes “As long as learners are engaged in productive struggle, even if they are headed toward a dead end, we need to bite our tongues and let students figure it out. Otherwise, we rob them of their well-deserved, satisfying, wonderful feelings of accomplishment when they make sense of problems and persevere.”

BecomingMathZager

So what does productive struggle look like in the classroom with students? What does productive struggle look like in professional learning communities with teachers? How do we learn to bite our tongues and give students time to figure it out? What stories can you share about students engaged in productive struggle?

What if we take ideas and apply them in our learning and teaching? What might we learn about our students, ourselves, and mathematics? What is to be gained by reflecting on our learning and sharing our thinking with our PLN here, there, and everywhere?

We look forward to considering these questions Sunday at our NCSM pre-conference session. And we look forward to sharing what we learn and discuss with those who can’t attend in real-time on Twitter and later through our blogs.

Jill (@jgough)  – Sneak Peek on Flexibility: Experiments in Learning by Doing

Jennifer (@jwilson828) – Sneak Peek on Empowering Learners: Easing the Hurry Syndrome

#NCSM17 #LearnAndShare #SlowMath

Flynn, Michael. 2017 Beyond Answers: Exploring Mathematical Practices with Young Children. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Zager, Tracy. 2017. Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

 

Jill Gough learns, serves, and teaches as the Director of Teaching and Learning at Trinity School. Previously, she taught in the Westminster Schools, after 14 years of teaching in public schools in Mississippi and at the Kiski School of Pennsylvania. Jill received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 1998 and Mathematical Association of America’s Sliffe Award in 2006 for excellence in teaching junior high.
Jennifer Wilson has been an educator for 24 years, spending 20 of those years teaching and learning mathematics with students at Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi. She currently teaches Advanced Placement Calculus and Geometry and also serves as a Curriculum Specialist with the Rankin County School District. Jennifer is an advocate for #slowmath, in which students and teachers take the time to enjoy mathematics.

 

 

Add comment April 1st, 2017

See you at NCSM and NCTM

We are looking forward to seeing you at this year’s NCSM and NCTM conferences in San Antonio.

At NCSM we will be exhibiting our books at booth #404.

At NCTM you can find us at booth #1325. Stop by to meet our authors:

Thursday
9:30-10: Anne Collins (Accessible Algebra)
10-10:30: Lucy West (Adding Talk to the Equation)
11:30-Noon: Chris Moynihan (Math Sense)
12:30-1: Mike Flynn (Beyond Answers)
1-1:30: Jessica Shumway (Number Sense Routines)
1:30-2: Nancy Anderson (What’s Right About Wrong Answers)
3-3:30: Christopher Danielson (Which One Doesn’t Belong?)

Friday
10-10:30: Chris Confer (Small Steps, Big Changes)
11-11:30: Kassia Omohundro Wedekind  (Math Exchanges)
3-3:30: Tracy Zager (Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had)

Stop by at both conferences to browse and purchase our latest titles, pick up our free tote bag, and for a chance to win $1,000 in Stenhouse titles! Download a full schedule of Stenhouse authors presenting at both conferences.

Add comment March 31st, 2017

Stenhouse author workshops near you

Catch one of your Stenhouse authors at a workshop or conference near you!

State of Maryland International Reading Association Council Annual Conference
March 29-31
Jeff Anderson * Jennifer Roberts * Lee Ann Spillane * Julie Ramsay

NCSM Annual Conference
April 3
San Antonio, TX
Lucy West * Tracy Zager * Mike Flynn * Nancy Anderson * Ruth Parker * Cathy Humphreys * Chris Moynihan * Allison Hintz.

NCTM Annual Conference
April 5
San Antonio, TX
Anne Collins * Linda Dacey * Lucy West *  Christopher Danielson *  Mike Flynn * Elham Kazemi * Chris Confer * Chris Moynihan * Kassia Omohundro Wedekind * Jessica Shumway * Tracy Zager * Nancy Anderson

Massachusetts Reading
April 6
Jeff Anderson * Steven Layne * Clare Landrigan & Tammy Mulligan * Katie Cunningham * Jennifer Jacobson

Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, “The 2 Sisters”
April 22, San Jose, CA: Daily 5 and Math Daily 3 Frameworks
April 23, San Jose, CA: CAFE: Assessment to Instruction
May 6, Chicago, IL: Daily 5 and Math Daily 3 Frameworks
May 7: Chicago, IL: CAFE: Assessment to Instruction

For more dates through the summer in Orlando, Denver, Tacoma, Pittsburgh, and other cities, visit: http://www.the2sisters.com/Workshops.html

Stephanie Harvey
May 17
Allen, TX
“Content Literacy Lessons for Comprehension Toolkits”

Jan Burkins & Kim Yaris
May 23
Ramapo College, Mahwah, NJ
“How should I teach reading next year?”

Debbie Diller
May 24 & 25
Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, MO
“Growing Independent Literacy Learners”

Debbie Diller’s Summer Institute
July 14 & 15
Houston, TX
“Growing Independent Readers, Writers, and Thinkers with Debbie Diller”

Shawna Coppola
New Hampshire Literacy Institute
July 31-August 4
“Writing, Redefined: Honoring the Compositional Work of ALL Students”

Add comment March 28th, 2017

Now Online: Accessible Algebra

Accessible AlgebraAccessible Algebra is for any pre-algebra or algebra teacher who wants to provide a rich and fulfilling experience to students as they develop new ways of thinking through and about algebra.

Each of the thirty lessons in this book identifies and addresses a focal domain and standard in algebra, then lays out the common misconceptions and challenges students may face as they work to investigate and understand problems.

Authors Anne Collins and Steven Benson describe classroom scenarios in each lesson and also suggest ways teachers may assign a problem or activity, how to include formative assessment strategies, and suggestions for grouping students.

Each lesson includes sections on how to support struggling students as well as additional resources and readings.

We just posted the full preview online!

Add comment March 27th, 2017

Empower your teaching by being a teacher-writer

The Tenth Annual Slice of Life Challenge kicks of March 1 and in this guest blog post Stacey Shubitz, cofounder of the Two Writing Teachers website, argues that to become an effective writing teacher, teachers need to be writers themselves. Stacey is the author of Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts

Empower your teaching by being a teacher-writer
Stacey Shubitz

stacey_croppedMy daughter is adjusting to full-day kindergarten this year. Like many kids her age, she is exhausted when she comes home. As a result, we pulled her out of ballet and tap classes—she wanted to chill after a seven-and-a-half-hour school day rather than attend dance classes.

My husband and I searched for a Sunday afternoon activity because we wanted her to have an extracurricular interest. A friend suggested aerial arts class. The idea of my daughter hanging upside down and swinging from a piece of fabric scared me. The first thing I did was check the instructor’s qualifications. Upon researching, I learned the instructor had been performing and teaching aerial arts for nearly a decade. I wasn’t convinced I’d keep our daughter enrolled past the trial class, but the teacher’s experience was enough to let my daughter try it.

Once we arrived at the trial course, the teacher demonstrated everything she wanted the children to do before they did it. She talked about what might be challenging. She spotted the kids as they tried different poses in the fabric. She repositioned their hands, supported their bodies (when necessary), and encouraged them with supportive words. As a result of her expertise as an aerial artist and a teacher, I enrolled my daughter in weekly classes.

Just as teachers of aerials need to be proficient aerial artists, teachers who lead writing workshops should be writers themselves. I never would have enrolled my daughter in the aerials class if the instructor wasn’t a proficient aerial artist herself. Similarly, I believe writing regularly plays a role in becoming an exemplary writing teacher.

If you want to be the best teacher of writing you can possibly be, there are a few things you must do: read high-quality professional books, attend professional development about writing, surround yourself with colleagues who will study student writing alongside you, and do a lot of your own writing. If you’re not sure how to get started with your own writing, please join my colleagues and me for the 10th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge on Two Writing Teachers.  SOLSC

The Slice of Life Story Challenge began on Two Writing Teachers in 2008. The online challenge’s mission is to support teachers who want to develop and sustain a daily writing habit. Over the years, the challenge has created a community of teacher-writers who are better able to support the students they serve in writing workshops. Teachers are invited to write a slice of life story—an anecdotal piece of writing about a small part of one’s day—on their own blogs and then share the link to their story on our blog. Each person who leaves a link to his or her own blog visits at least three other people’s blogs to comment on their slice-of-life writing.

I believe being a writer is one of the biggest gifts you can give to your students. Being a teacher-writer means you can confer with your students and feel a special kind of camaraderie. Being a teacher-writer means you understand the struggles and frustrations as well as the triumphs and the beauty. Being a teacher-writer means you will transform your students’ lives because you believe in the power of words. It is my hope that all children who take part in writing workshops will have teacher-writers.

I hope you’ll join us for the 10th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge this March. We are a welcoming community of teacher-writers—at varying points in our careers—who come together to share blog posts about the ordinary moments in our lives. Click here to find out how to join our community of writers.

 

Stacey Shubitz is an independent literacy consultant, an adjunct professor, and a former elementary school teacher. She’s the author of Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts and the coauthor of Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice. She blogs at Two Writing Teachers and can be found on Twitter @sshubitz.

Add comment February 15th, 2017

7 new titles available for preview

We just posted the full preview for seven new and recent books from our Canadian partner, Pembroke Publishers.

Powerful Readers
Thinking Strategies to Guide Literacy Instruction in Secondary Classrooms
Kyla Hadden and Adrienne Gear
At any age or grade level, powerful readers are those who are aware of their thinking as they read. This book demonstrates that instruction in the key strategies of connecting, visualizing, questioning, inferring, determining importance, and transforming can help high school students develop their reading skills and get more out of their work with fiction and nonfiction.
Grades 8-12 • 128 pages • $24.00 • Available now

Literacy 101
Questions and Answers That Meet the Needs of Real Teachers
David Booth
In his new book, David Booth answers questions from real teachers about building skills in literacy—from phonics to comprehension, from simple exercises to rich reading materials. Drawing on more than forty years of experience in education, David shares hard-learned lessons about what has—and hasn’t—worked for him.
Grades K-12 • 128 pages • $24.00 • Available now

Student Diversity, Third Edition
Teaching Strategies to Meet the Learning Needs of All Students in K-10 Classrooms
Faye Brownlie, Catherine Feniak, and Leyton Schnellert
Based on extensive classroom research, Student Diversity presents many examples of teachers working together in diverse classrooms to improve their teaching practice—from the primary and early years to middle school and high school.
Grades K-10 • 160 pages • $24.00 • Available now

Substitute Teaching?
Everything You Need to Get the Students on Your Side and Teach Them, Too
Amanda Yuill
This easy-to-read, humorous survival guide for substitute teachers presents strategies to get students on your side and make classroom management easier for the whole day. You’ll get ready-to-use tools, tips, and lesson ideas for every grade from kindergarten through 8th.
Grades K-8 • 160 pages • $24.00 • Available now

The Four Roles of the Numerate Learner
Effective Teaching and Assessment Strategies to Help Students Think Differently About Mathematics
Mary Fiore and Maria Luisa Lebar
This book introduces a framework (sense maker, skill user, thought communicator, and critical interpreter) that supports an integrated approach to effective mathematics instruction. It builds on educators’ understanding of how to effectively teach mathematics and borrows from successful frameworks used to teach literacy.
Grades K-12 • 128 pages • $24.00 • Available now

Relationships Make the Difference
Connect with Your Students and Help Them Build Social, Emotional, and Academic Skills
Pat Trottier
This book provides the scaffolding that teachers need to establish strong relationships with their students and create caring classroom communities that build relationships with parents, school administration, staff, and support specialists.
Grades K-12 • 128 pages • $24.00 • Available now

Teaching with Humor, Compassion, and Conviction
Helping Our Students Become Literate, Considerate, Passionate Human Beings
Heather Hollis
How can teachers make their literacy classrooms a place of joy? Full of simple strategies and activities for building community, this practical book is committed to promoting strong literacy skills and creating mindful classrooms where students are free to speak with compassion, write with conviction, and read with joy.
Grades K-6 • 128 pages • $24.00 • Available now

Add comment January 9th, 2017

Remembering Tom Seavey

Tom Seavey (1944-2016), co-founder of Stenhouse Publishers

tom-portraitOn Christmas Day, Tom Seavey, who founded Stenhouse with his wife, Philippa Stratton, died suddenly of a heart attack after spending a wonderful day with his family. Tom is being remembered as a loving and devoted husband, father, and grandfather, as well as an innovative and highly-regarded publisher of books for educators.

Tom helped launch Heinemann in 1978 where, together with colleague John Watson, they grew the company to become the leading publisher of professional development books for teachers. In 1980 they were joined by Philippa Stratton, Tom’s wife, who focused on finding and cultivating authors. Heinemann went on to publish several authors who would become familiar names to nearly every educator in the country–including Don Graves, Lucy Calkins, and Nancie Atwell.

In 1993, Tom and Philippa left Heinemann to start Stenhouse Publishers as a subsidiary of Highlights for Children of Columbus, Ohio. At Stenhouse, Tom and Philippa repeated the success they had had at Heinemann with a series of bestselling titles. In 2010, Philippa became the only publisher to win the Outstanding Educator Award from the National Council of Teachers of English for the body of work she and Tom had published at Heinemann and Stenhouse.

“Tom’s approach to publishing combined taste, independence, curiosity and, often, a non-traditional mode of thinking,” said Kent Johnson, CEO of Highlights for Children. “Because of his modesty, only a few people truly know the greatness of his contributions to these publishing houses and, most importantly, to educators.”

After a life of work on behalf of teachers, Tom retired in 2008. His wide-ranging interests included reading, travel, cooking, furniture-making, learning Hungarian, and volunteering at Florence House, Portland’s women’s shelter, where he helped prepare and serve lunch.

Tom is survived by Philippa and their daughter, Eliza Seavey, who is the nurse manager at Harbour Women’s Health in Portsmouth, NH. She is married to wife Jamie Stone and the couple have two children, Nora and Ben.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Preble Street (preblestreet.org), the umbrella organization for the Florence House women’s shelter where Tom volunteered.

Tributes to Tom by Stenhouse staff members:

From Dan Tobin, president of Stenhouse:

About 11 years ago this month, my sister-in-law Toby Gordon called to tell me her old friend Tom Seavey was leaving his position as marketing manager at Stenhouse. She thought I might be interested in the job. Toby had worked with Tom and Philippa for years at Heinemann and she thought Philippa and I would make a good team at Stenhouse.

I was a big fan of what Tom and Philippa had accomplished at both Heinemann and Stenhouse so I gave Tom a call. That led to the strangest and most interesting series of job interviews I’ve ever had. At some point in the conversations, we reversed roles and I began telling Tom why I lacked the experience to fill his shoes while Tom was working to convince me I was the ideal candidate. Of course, Tom won the argument; he was very persuasive.

Where Tom, Philippa, and I connected was our common commitment to teachers. I had spent 13 years as a curriculum editor and writer at EDC, a nonprofit education research organization, and the one thing I had learned from studying decades of EDC school reform research is that the teacher is the most important variable. A mediocre curriculum in the hands of a good teacher is better than a wonderful curriculum in the hands of a mediocre teacher. In the end, it’s the skills and knowledge of the teacher that matters most.

Fortunately for me, Tom stuck around to teach me the business. He left Stenhouse to go to work for our parent company, Highlights for Children, selling international rights and he moved his desk to an empty office on our first floor. Several times each week, I would go down and sit in the rocking chair next to Tom’s desk and pepper him with questions. He was the perfect mentor—patient, wise, and clear.

Well, not always totally clear. Tom had a thick Maine accent and he sprinkled his advice with all sorts of colorful terms and expressions. The introduction to the catalog was “guff.” Good conversations were “mulch.” Pointless conversations were “chin music” and pointless guff was “flapdoodle.”

Tom was a man of strong opinions but that was coupled with endless curiosity and intense modesty. He loved to turn the spotlight on others he found to be smart and interesting—especially teachers. That’s his legacy at both Stenhouse and Heinemann.

From Toby Gordon, math and science editor:

I met Tom in June 1988, on my first day as a young editor at Heinemann. He ambled over to my desk, not bothering to introduce himself, and in his thick Maine accent—which I took as British—he started asking me questions about me and my job. I discovered over the years that this curiosity spread into all corners of his life—from his brilliant co-directing of Heinemann and then Stenhouse with Philippa, to his love for beautiful wooden furniture-making, to gourmet cooking, to  the most wide-ranging reading interests I’ve ever known. And underlying these pursuits was a down-to-earth, unpretentious spirit; always looking and commenting on the world with a particularly wry wit, Tom never ceased to amuse and amaze me.

Tom and I became good friends at work and in the world, as our young families grew up together, picnicking in Philippa and Tom’s beautiful backyard, swimming at Peak’s Island, hanging out in NYC. In our more recent years, we swapped names of doctors and mechanics.

In one of the last emails Tom sent me, he thanked me for passing on the name of one particularly gifted fix-it guy. In his typical Tom-esque style, he wrote:

“Thanks for recommending Aaron. We have decided to form a fan club. If he does everything as well as he did our bathroom, he’s a shoo-in to replace LePage [Maine’s controversial governor]. Probably could also solve the mind-body problem, find the least common denominator, and explain the rules of cricket.”

This short note says so much—why I found Tom so endearing, and why I’ll miss him so.

From Maureen Barbieri, editor:

I knew Tom as the head honcho at Heinemann during the years when I was a classroom teacher. I’d see him at the booth at NCTE conferences year after year, engaged in conversations with authors, teachers, and other school people, always interested and knowledgeable. He had great radar, much like Philippa did, when it came to scoping out new talent. When I asked Mary Ehrenworth, then a high school art history teacher, to present with me in 1999, Tom came to hear us. Later he sought me out to ask for more information on her, suspecting she’d be the new ‘it girl.’ And he was right. Of course, it wasn’t long before Mary became a Heinemann star.

As the years passed and Philippa and I became friends, I had the chance to know him socially as well, and I was impressed with his insatiable curiosity and his wonderful sense of humor. He was a reader, and he had definite opinions on things. Smart, but eager to hear what other people thought. I found him fascinating, if a bit intimidating. He had a way of looking right at you, asking the follow-up question that made you examine your premise, reconsider your point.

When I looked at Tom and Philippa I saw a true partnership. Two equals, smart, passionate, creative people making a fascinating life together. I saw affection, respect, admiration, even devotion. They seemed to get much more out of life than most people – traveling, house swapping, attending concerts and plays, reading everything, and always making time for friends. Tom’s volunteer work, quietly done, revealed another side of his character. What kind of a person shows up to sit with a hospice patient week after week and then spends time with the family as they adjust to their loss? Who makes a commitment to work in the kitchen of a homeless women’s shelter? Tom Seavey did, and for many years. A quiet example of what a life well lived can look like.

My favorite memory of Tom is from a summer day in 2015. My husband Richie had been gone for about five months, and I was having lunch at their lovely house, babbling away. I caught myself, and apologized, explaining that, since I now lived alone, I tended to ramble on whenever I got to be with people. Tom was reassuring. ‘Oh, no, don’t worry. You are welcome here,’ he said. And the thing is, I believed him.

From Zsofi McMullin, marketing content editor:

I first met Tom at the cafeteria of Maine Medical Center. I worked at the hospital at the time and received a cryptic message from the hospital’s interpreter services – a man called them looking for someone to teach him Hungarian.

That man turned out to be Tom and we met once a week for several months for Hungarian lessons. For a while I couldn’t really understand why he was trying to learn Hungarian – an impossibly difficult language – but I think he must have liked the challenge and I know that he loved the country, spending weeks in a rented flat in Budapest, sometimes transporting packages back to the U.S. for me from my mom.

We always chatted for a while after our lessons and during one of those conversations I mentioned that I didn’t particularly enjoy working at the hospital. Tom said that he knew just the right job and company for me and after a few rounds of interviews I landed at Stenhouse. That was almost 12 years ago now and I will always be grateful to him for bringing me into the Stenhouse family.

2 comments January 5th, 2017

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