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Rafe Esquith to Speak at Marylhurst University

For Release: October 02, 2008

Rafe Esquith, fifth-grade teacher and author of "Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire" and "There Are No Shortcuts," will speak about the innovative teaching methods he uses to help his students, many who are first-generation immigrants, score in the top percentile on standardized tests and go on to attend top universities on Thursday, October 16, 7 p.m. in Clark Commons at Marylhurst University. This event is free and open to the public. Parking is free. For additional information, call 503.699.6250.

Esquith teaches in Los Angeles at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School, which is located in an area with a 97 percent poverty rate. The two mottos in his classroom are "Be Nice, Work Hard" and "There Are No Shortcuts." His students voluntarily come to school at 6:30 in the morning and work until 5:00 in the afternoon. His work has been highlighted in a highly acclaimed PBS documentary, "The Hobart Shakespeareans," and he has been featured on CBS' 60 Minutes and NPR's All Things Considered.

"Many of Rafe's students do not speak English at home. He uses unconventional teaching methods to teach English as a second language. For example, his students study and understand every word they recite from Shakespearean plays," said Tom Ruhl, chair of Marylhurst University's Master of Arts in Teaching program. "Each year the Hobart Shakespeareans, as Rafe's students are known, perform one of Shakespeare's plays.

"They are so outstanding that they have been invited to perform with the Royal Shakespeare Company in England and have received praise from Shakespearean actors Ian McKellen and Michael York," Ruhl added.

Esquith has shown through his commitment and innovative teaching techniques that any child can succeed. Newsday recently called him a "modern-day Thoreau, who teaches the value of hard work, honest self-reflection and the courage to go one's own way." In his energetic talks, Esquith celebrates the joy of learning; the power of love and kindness; and the ability of children to adapt, survive and prosper in the toughest circumstances.

The New York Times calls him "a genius and a saint." He is the only teacher to be awarded the President's National Medal of the Arts and was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. He has also received the Walt Disney American Teacher Award for National Teacher of the Year, Oprah's Use of Your Life Award and the Dalai Lama's Compassion in Action Award.

Marylhurst University, located one mile south of Lake Oswego on Highway 43, offers professional certificates, undergraduate and graduate degrees including the Master of Arts in Teaching.

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