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Urban Creatures Legends


coming up on nebraska stories... the newest member of the nebraska hall of fame... a king sized lovestory from nashville... teachers who dig geology... and a student pursues the highest honor in 4-h. ♪ music ♪ narrator: fromco-founding the new school to saving european intellectuals from nazi persecution, alvin saunders johnson's life is an epic tale of achievement.

narrator: the academy awardwinning film "shindler's list" tells the story of a germanindustrialist who saved hundredsof jewish workers from the nazi death camps. as improbable as it seems, a man from nebraska also savedhundreds of jewish lives. he grew up nearhomer, nebraska where in the 1880s he rodehis horse to a one-room school. in the 1920s and 30s herose to prominence

as president of the newschool in new york city. he used hisinfluence there to rescue almost200 european scholars. robert ripley: if nebraska needed their own person called "shindler," this is the man who made a similar achievement. and it is nothingshort of remarkable. narrator: butit wasn't easy. he had many critics,some from his own university.

bob kerrey: people who weresaying, don't do this alvin. i mean, come on. this is not our mission to bringgerman jewish intellectuals over here and createsomething different. that's not how we started off. i believe what he didwas the bravest act of any university presidentin the entire history of american education. narrator: our heroesname is alvin johnson.

he is the newest inducteeinto the nebraska hall of fame. interviewer: "haveyou heard of alvin johnson?" woman: "no." man: "alvin johnson? no." man: "no." man: "ah, no. no, i haven't." man: "i've never heard of alvin johnson. never." man: "the baseball player, right?" woman: "i've not heard of alvin johnson."

man: "i'm sorry. i feel an immense sense ofguilt not knowing that." steve shiveley: alvinjohnson was born on a farm near homer, nebraska indakota county in 1874. kerrey: if you'd met himwhen he was 10 years old on a farm in homer, nebraska,you'd be asking him, "well, what do youthink about farming?" jim mckee: he became kindof scholarly in the eyes of his friends and being agangly youth they gave him

the sobriquet of"frog man". narrator:when he was 18 years old, he enrolled at theuniversity of nebraska. where he was tutored by none other than willa cather, who said of one of hisfreshmen compositions, "you write not badly,but you don't see." but alvin johnsondid have vision. after graduating fromnebraska and getting a ph.d. from columbia he rose tobecome one of the founders

and finally the presidentof the new school for social researchin new york city. kerrey: among thethings that he carried over into the creation ofthe new school was the belief that the intellectual activityhad to connect to life. you had to getcivically engaged. narrator: one of the jobsof the new school president was to recruit some of thebest scholars in the world to come to theschool and teach.

kerrey: what alvin johnsonbelieved is you've got a lot of people outthere making decisions and the qualityof the decision making is going to getbetter as a consequence of understanding these things. so he believed in bringing these phenomenal people to deliver lectures and people who were already educated, could sit in theaudience and say, "oh, my god, i neverthought of that before."

(cloth being pulled off of bust) (applause) ripley: alvinsaunders johnson. humanitarian. educator. economist. innovator in americanadult education. creator of a safe haven forjewish scholars fleeing nazism. author of america's firstanti-discrimination legislation. elected the hall of famein 2012. ripley: i have seen threeor four of very few photographs

that were evertaken of dr. johnson, and it was a challenge forthe sculptor to create an image that was a great likeness with very, very scant information. and i think the physical representation of him here, is appropriate to his greatness. wesley wofford: i thinkits really important in trying to capture theessence of someone is to use the bust and to usethings in that bust as symbols to represent their accomplishments.

i thought his handswere very important. his grandson who i wastalking to yesterday was, like, "i hung out withalvin for a summer and he had the biggest hands,you know, his hands". he was a farmer, he workedwith his hands and he read and elevated himself andin doing so elevated many others over thehistory of his life. narrator: adolph hitler came topower in germany in 1933. within months every jewishprofessor in germany was fired.

by the end of 1933, the firstconcentration camp was built. it was called dachua. soon it was illegal for jews tohold any government job. with remarkable foresight, alvinjohnson saw what was coming. at the new school in 1933he created a graduate school called "theuniversity in exile". it was a way to bring scholars into the united statesfrom germany. just how difficult these individual rescues were,

can be seen in the escape route of polish scholar, dr. alexander turyn. dr. turyn made his way frompoland to the black sea where he tooka small boat to istanbul, then another boat to smyrna where he was joinedby his wife and son. together they proceeded bytrain to bagdhad and then flew to karachi and finally got to bombay,

where they boarded the shipthe president roosevelt and by way ofcape of good hope, made itto new york city. in addition to saving lives, johnson's dramatic rescues, brought a new generation ofgifted educators to america whose teaching impactedthousands of students. interviewer: is that worth being in the hall of fame? john janovy: oh, absolutely. and when you look at the talent and the intellectual power that came over to this country

as a result of people like that, absolutely, worthy of the nebraska hall of fame. and, obviously, muchmore than a baseball player. narrator: the professorsat the new school created such adynamic atmosphere, it attracted a 19-yearold student from omaha, named marlon brando. brando said, "i was onlythere one year, but what a year it was."

another studentwas playwright, tennessee williams. three years later,tennessee cast brando in the broadway premier of "a streetcar named desire." in his autobiography, alvin johnson was so modestthat brando and williams weren't even mentioned. johnson's low-key mannerthroughout his lifetime was classically nebraskan.

shively: he wasborn and grew up in nebraska. bachelor and master'sdegrees at the university. and the people i'veinterviewed who talk about him always bring upthat he was a farmer at heart. he never losthis nebraskaness. when elizabeth kinglost her job, she packer her carand moved to nashville. where she not only met country music legends, but the love of her life.

♪ music from "the mary tylermoore show" ♪ narrator: young,independent, and emerging from a broken engagement, what mary richard's portrayed onthe popular 70's sitcom, elizabeth yaxwas living in real life. elizabeth king: here i'mtwenty-nine, no house, no fiancã©, no job. what do you do? you move to nashville.

(laughter) narrator: rather than a sit-com, elizabeth's storycould be a classic country song. a spunky, small town girl,grows up in a happy family, graduates college with a degreein sociology and big dreams. elizabeth king: i wentinto radio because that's what you do when you havethat kind of degree, i guess. ksyz was thenewcomer on the block and they had a lot of funthings going for them.

narrator: within four yearselizabeth was sales manager and just whenthings couldn't get better, the station was sold. elizabeth's story wasin for a big change. elizabeth king: i had justbeen engaged prior to the radio station selling. and i calledoff my wedding. so, here i am, i'm 29, thestation is sold, i've lost my jobbut i do have my rx-7.

i put everything thatfit in that rx-7, which, trust me, wasn't a lot. i took off to nashville. (car engineaccelerating) elizabeth king: i think iwas a little crazy, but definitely determined andi didn't have anything. narrator:but thanks to a friend, elizabeth had a place to stay and a backstage passto the grand ole opry.

elizabeth king: it was acommon courtesy thing that they would give youaccess back stage if you workedin the radio department, in with a radio station. narrator: in a way onlyelizabeth could do, she turned a single night'saccess into a two year pass. elizabeth king: yes, wellthat's called makin' friends. so, you smile and youmake friends and you just belong there andlittle by little, you know,

i didn't have toshow a pass, i didn't have to be on the list. ♪ music ♪ narrator: elizabethmade a lot of friends. narrator:but, none more important than the one shemade with terry king. terry king: it was likewow, what a great smile. narrator: like a page froma romance novel, elizabeth and terrymet for the first time

backstage at the grand ole opry where terry was working as a musician. terry king: i was stillwith patty and we had just gotten back from a usotour with randy travis and so we were at the opry. narrator: that was thevery night elizabeth used her backstage pass. elizabeth king: prettygood night for me, too, because two years later imarried that terry king.

narrator: terry grew upone hour from nashville and taught himself toplay guitar. terry: ♪ stepped out in the land of the delta blues...♪ bnarrator: but he didn't gethis start in country music. terry: ♪ w.c. handy, won't... ♪ terry king: i ended up inmuscle shoals and was a staff writerthere for awhile. narrator: terry wrotesongs for top r&b talent, but after a few years hemoved back to nashville

and went to work for topcountry artists. elizabeth king: terry gota call and it was mel and he said, we'regoing to branson. narrator: terry andelizabeth had been dating over a year whenhe got the call. it was the early 90's and whileterry went to branson, elizabethstayed in nashville. terry king: i said, mel,i said you know this girl that i was datingin nashville.

i think i'm goingto ask her to marry me. he said, take mehome and you can take my car. narrator: elizabeth andterry tied the knot back in nebraska just a fewdays before christmas. elizabeth king: it was 15below zero with 25 below zero wind chill. they always said it'd be a coldday when i get married. (laughter.) and it was.

narrator: terry continued to working for mel tillis. but after their firstbaby arrived, terry left his musical career and the familysettled in nebraska. terry king: elizabeth'sa good saleman. she's very strong, notonly personality wise, faithwise, some aspects shehas not only save my life, she saved my soul. elizabeth king: lookingback, do i think i can move

to nashville and do whati did again now at my age? no way. but am i glad i did? because now i can saythere are no regrets. narrator: and here iswhere the story gets a little sweeter. elizabeth and terry still keepin touch with their old friends. narrator: it's more thantwenty years since their fateful meeting backstageof the opry and yet,

the lovebirds arestill singing. teachers travelback into deep time to expand theirunderstanding of geology and discover whatreally drives learning. dave harwood: it's theearth, we study the earth. it's really hard to study theearth in the classroom. harwood: ready to go! (van door shutting) harwood: these teachers,they're going to be challenged,

and they'regoing to feel like their students in the classroom. harwood: we're hereat the platte river. it's really the first stopwhere people have gotten dirty and wet, and,getting into the science. (shovel slicing sand) harwood: what do you see? harwood: but they'realso meeting each other. they're learning a lotabout each other.

(walking through cold water) harwood: we're reallybuilding up a fundamental set of knowledgeabout how rivers work. it's a very basicprinciple of water moves sediment. dyllan pinkman: myname is dyllan pinkman. i teach at dawesmiddle school. and i've been teachingfor three years. i love doing experimentsand i want to be able

to do that with my classroom. i can share myexperiences with them, and i can have some credibilitywhen i go into the classroom. (unpacking the van) harwood: there certainlyis that social dynamic. you've just gottawork through it. (setting up tent andcutting vegetables) harwood: living, camping,sharing, the daily adventure out here.

harwood: i would say thatthis is, just from past trips, this is probablyyour biggest learning day, where you start to perceive howbig geology really is. harwood: each rock has aparticular set of, like, signatures or fingerprintsthat tell us something about how therock was formed. david peters: we arelooking at a lot of sand. i could probably usea little more shade. i probably try to focuson the big picture.

i didn't know there were quiteso many details about sand. harwood: being out oftheir comfort zone, it puts them in the positionof where their students are. i'm a professor and i domy research and i teach about things at a prettyhigh level, but you know, iwas probably, well, i was a really poor teacherfor quite some time. i changed entirely the waythat i teach, based on the interactionwith these teachers

and by seeing the power of whatmotivates these teachers to just keep going. harwood: if you were tosketch this or draw it... mandy: i've taught earthscience for just one year now, and i can really seethat what i was teaching was just really, reallya bit more fragmented. i'm getting this reallybig picture now. mandy: how wideshould we draw it? helen: how about we gofrom edge to edge of that...

mandy: geology is huge,these processes are really big and far reaching. having that understanding,is huge for me at this point. helen: we'll call thatthe "holey layer." helen: earth isn't the same asit was a million years ago, at tenmillion years ago. the earth isconstantly changing. helen: it's exciting tothink, the huge scale of earth's time.

harwood: we're up at six. we go to bed at ten,eleven, twelve. depends on how it goes,but we can be in the vans working from eight o'clockto seven, eight at night. teresa: okay, iam sick of you! harwood: i'm always amazed athow much they can continue to go and continueto stay engaged. group: ♪ happybirthday to you. ♪ helen: thank you.

harwood: to the trip'sgreatest olympic swimmer. helen: yeah. let me see if i can notcatch my hair on fire. harwood: when i preparefor this, i really don't know how its going togo, even every day. it depends on whatthe teachers bring. what questionsthey bring up. they can then startto follow their own curiosity. pinkman: this doesn'tlook like nebraska.

it's crazy. this whole area would've beenfilled up to the highest ridge. that's weathering anderosion, what we're learning in class. harwood: dyllan, he's veryaware of why he's here. he's here to bring more ofthis into the classroom. so i'm really happy he'sgot that perspective of the kids, otherwiseit's just for his own enjoyment. that's not what's drivingany of these teachers.

i mean, it's hard to beout here waking up on the ground every morning. enduring it, for thestudents, i think is what's motivating alot of these teachers. harwood: today'sgonna be a great day. we'll be taking aboat ride into alcova reservior. and up fremont canyon. harwood: see it? right there? we're in the 'road hair',

we're in the 'road hair' stage. harwood: we'll be goinginto the bowels of the earth, if you will,back in time. peters: thisis pretty awesome! harwood: we didn't reallygo down in the earth, but we went back through time. it's like taking a knife,cutting into the earth, folding it back andlooking all the way down. just going into deep time,where its really hard to fathom.

3 billion years old. two billion years. a long time. harwood: so, i want youto try to think about the relationship of theserocks as they cooled. pinkman: its trying to getthe kids to understand the time-frame and how longall of this stuff takes to actually happen. science iseverywhere you go.

i doesn't just have to bejust out of a book, just out of a video. pinkman: whoo! harwood: just this morningdyllan said, "you know, i'm not gonnateach the same way. i realized how lamemy presentation on weathering, orof erosion was." he's gonna change the wayhe presents this and pull it into a way thatmakes the students think.

pinkman: what math classlets you go out and do this? helen: i did it myself, ifi can do it, you can do it. harwood: and they're ableto share with their students, and show apicture of them, standing next tothese rocks; the students, automatically will have respect. the teacherwill have credibility for having been a geologist. that's huge.

mandy: i don't think i'veever learned or done so much in two weeksever in my life. peters: i've begunto wonder if dr. harwood isn't sort of afreak of nature. we're exhausted. and he's the guy cookingthe meals and driving the van. i suggested about ahundred miles back that we turn around anddo it again. that, i'm ready to go.

harwood: you've kind ofgot to let go of your classroom is partlywhat this is about. and let the studentspartly drive what is learned and then theystay fully engaged. sheridan swotek is hoping her innovative 4-h project will put her on track to receive the organization's highest recognition,the diamond clover award. sheridan swotek: i pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty,

my hands to larger service, group: my health to better living for my club, my community,my country and my world. sheridan: alright, thank you. and we have the nebraska flag for the nebraska motto. who would like to hold that? sheridan: alright, we'll review it real quickly. its "equality before the law." alright, can we all say that together?

group: equality before the law. sheridan: alright. good job. (sewing machine) karol swotek: my mother was a local 4-h-er and then i was kind of a local and state, now she has gone on to national. oh, i think she will be an intergalactic 4-h-er before you know it. she's very motivatedand very determined and

very willing to do the hard work it takes to get things done. sheridan: in the 4-h program there is something called the diamond clover program. you have to do something monumental in your community i would never thought i'd actually be doing goats. karol: my daughter said i just think it wouldbe just so fun and i know other counties have sheep exchanges or other animal exchanges.

sheridan:goats are just something that peoople are probablynot most familar with. he actually was able to donate six goats from his family. and so that is how we kind ofgot started. cole meador: one of my goals, ultimately, was to be able to have some type of project like this where urban kidscould show a goat. all kids should be able to raise some type of animal during their life.

you know, most kidscan raise a dog or a cat, but their nothing compared to raising a livestock species. kid 1: head might jump on you. kid 2: okay, leave it out so that when they're ready... meador: you know when you are dealing with livestock you're dealing with all sorts of different health problems. meador: go straight into that muscle. and pull it straight back to make sure you're not in a vein. and just give him the shot and rub a little bit.

meador: i'm gettingthose animals broke to show, bonding with that animaland then in the end, ultimately, having to sellthat animal. so it's a totally different aspect to raising a pet. (feeding goats) sheridan: they come out every other night or so and work with their goats and really get the goats to know them. working with our goats is basically just kind of walking them around and practicing setting them up.

and just gettingyour goat to know you. then by the time of the fair, they're realing familiar with their goats and they're ready to show them. meador: then if the judge stands right here, all of you guys should be at the front of your goats. so as that judge looksdown the line all he sees is those animals. so he is comparing them. perfect.

sheridan, why don't you go ahead and walk her again. (traffic noises) sheridan: there are kids who are really disconnected from what how agriculture affects us. i took them to my work and got 160 k through 5 kids be able to interact with a goat. sheridan: "so what are other things you see about ted?" sheridan: some of them, they've never seena goat before in person.

and so having them come up and see a goat and feed a goat and having them havethat hands on interaction. is really pretty cool. 4-h kid 1: so, on a nubians, their ears are big and long, so you can actuallynotice that they have ears. then on the lamancha goats,they have little ear lobes, that are about the size of that. (goat eating hay) 4-h kid 2: at the fair, you take their collar and

you put them up right there and hold them with two fingers and lead them around. 4-h kid 1:so you don't choke them. sheridan: the kidsusually don't expect to come to their summer daycamp and work with a goat. we've done thisa couple of times and they are still talkingabout the goat that came like three weeks ago. (county fair 4-h kidspreparing to show goats)

karol: what i've seenthrough my children and my club and other kidsinteracting with 4-h is, they are enthusiasticwhen they have a chance to learn something new. sheridan: 4-h really teaches 4-h teens to be a greater role model in their community and with whoever they work with. i feel 4-h has mademe definelty a better person. (goat bleating) watch our stories online atnetnebraska.org/nebraskastories

and go to facebook to "like" us and leave a comment. join the nebraska stories conversation. nebraska storiesis funded by the margaret and marthathomas foundation and the nebraska officeof highway safety. sustained funding for arts coverage on nebraska stories is provided by the h. lee and carol genndler charitable fund and the nebraska arts council and nebraskacultural endowment.

captioning by finke/net television, copyright 2014

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