The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America
|News & Notes||Sallie Johnson||Down Memory Lane||Past AGazines|
Events across the AGLOA leagues during the next month:
Sallie Johnson – I
Sallie Johnson grew up in New Orleans and went to college at Southern University in Baton Rouge. In the fall of her junior year, she took a course in what was called the “New Math.” Sallie and three other students excelled to the point that the professor enlisted them to help him teach the same course for teachers on Saturdays. That demanded quite a sacrifice during football season.
Mr. Crawford, not on Saturdays! Grambling’s coming, Jackson State, Florida A&M. You can’t miss kickoff. The pregame. The bands. We were just having fits.
He at least let them skip the regular class periods.
How did she end up in Detroit? She met her husband at a football game when he was stationed in New Orleans while in the military. So after graduation, she applied for a teaching position in his hometown of Detroit. Sallie obtained a Master’s degree from the University of Detroit courtesy of the National Science Foundation.
She became involved in Academic Games in 1974 because of Dr. Fred Schippert, the Middle School Mathematics Supervisor for the Detroit Public Schools. Dr. Layman Allen taught Fred Equations and convinced him that the game would raise student achievement in math. So with the help of an ESA grant, Fred conducted a mandatory summer workshop for Middle School teachers that included training in Equations. Among those who attended was Sallie Johnson, who was teaching at Brooks Middle School. She didn’t bring a positive attitude toward games in the classroom.
Games? In my mind, games meant play. Our kids don’t have time to play Equations. “Academic” and “games” didn’t mix with me. I’m thinking this in my head, but I knew that, if he said this is what we’re going to do, this is what we’re going to do. We learned the basic game.
She introduced Equations in her classroom that year but didn’t start bringing students to the Saturday tournaments of the Michigan League of Academic Games until the following year.
I still didn’t feel comfortable. I just didn’t know enough.
A breakthrough occurred when the team from Murray Wright High School in Detroit achieved success at the 1978 national tournament. Charles Lasley won the championship in WFF’N Proof, Equations, and On-Sets.
The first year they went to the national tournament, they didn’t do well. They didn’t know what to expect. They were blown away. Fred and Layman wouldn’t let them quit. They worked their butts off. They were so focused the next year. It’s not going to happen to us again. There was a big headline in the newspaper, “Ghetto kids from Detroit win national championship.” The games had changed the children’s attitude toward learning. They would come to school so they could compete in these games. They became whole new people. Attendance improved, attitudes improved.
Fred brought us Detroit teachers to Waldenwoods [a resort north of Ann Arbor]. It was like a summer camp. He divided us into teams and each team had a Murray Wright kid as our coach. I had Charles Lasley. I was still fighting games, but that won me over. It hadn’t sunk in how wonderful this was. Charles was the leader of that Murray Wright team. He took charge to make sure they practiced. They would go to homes to practice. One time, one player made a 4 while the rest of the team made 6s. Charles questioned him. “What happened? Was it something you didn’t know? You weren’t at practice Tuesday and you were late Thursday. No, let me tell you why you didn’t get a 6. You’re losing focus and, if you don’t want to play anymore, let me know.” He was very soft-spoken but absolutely incredible. The player shaped up after that.
Sally remembers the 1981 national tournament at Rock Eagle Resort (GA) when the Murray Wright team won both Equations and On-Sets.
When it was time for the awards ceremony, we wondered why they’re sitting way up front. We couldn’t see them. When they called their award, the five of them stood up and removed their overcoats to reveal that the four young men were wearing tuxedos and the young lady was wearing a black evening dress. They walked with military precision onto the stage with Charles in the lead, no smiles. There was total silence in that room. It was as if they were coming up to receive an Academy Award. They were on the red carpet except with dignity, not running. The whole room went crazy. We were so proud as African-Americans that day.
Sallie also recalls the year the bus assignments for the Nationals trip brought a thrill.
Detroit had seven busses coming to Nationals. You never knew who would be on your bus. I was a bus captain. Normally, the high school students went together. For some reason, the Murray Wright team was on my bus. When I looked up and saw them, I was almost out of breath. “They’re on my bus!” It’s all I could talk about. They were quiet and mature. They coached the younger kids during the trip – anything you wanted help with. They were helping me too. You knew that Charles meant business. “You’re not going to waste my time. I want to help you.” Everybody wanted to be like Charles.
To be continued…
Down Memory Lane
The 1974-5 Official Equations Tournament Rules divided the Adventurous variations for Elementary Division into three groups.
Last issue, we listed the variations the Goal-Setter could select. Here were the variations the player to the immediate left of the Goal-Setter could select.
Next issue: Third player variation selections