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“Jeopardy!” Show Hosts Teachers Tournament

Looking for an innovative way to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week? With the classic game show “Jeopardy!” airing its first-ever Teachers Tournament May 2-13, 2011, why not have students cover class content through “Jeopardy!” games, or throw a viewing party for your colleagues to help cheer on some especially knowledgeable educators?

This is the first time a new “Jeopardy!” competition has been introduced on the quiz show since Kids Week in 1999. The winner will receive $100,000 and a guaranteed spot in the Tournament of Champions later this year.

The tournament will feature the following teachers from across the nation:

Courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Grafton Brown - Corliss High School, Chicago, IL
Catherine Carson - St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School, Washington, D.C.
Kathy Casavant - Oxford High School, Oxford, MA
Dan Crosby - Maimonides Academy, Santa Monica, CA
Larry DeMoss - Edgewood High School, Ellettsville, IN
Judd Hess - Godinez Fundamental High School, Huntington Beach, CA
Lori Kissell - Liberty High School, Fredericksburg, VA
Caitlin Millat - Achievement First Apollo Elementary, Brooklyn, NY
Matt Polazzo - Stuyvesant High School, Brooklyn, NY
Elisabeth Raab - High School of the Future, Philadelphia, PA
Viki Radden - South High School, Bakersfield, CA
John Shoe - Logan School for Creative Learning, Lakewood, CO
Charles Temple - Ocracoke School, Ocracoke, NC
Charley Tinkham - Burlingame Intermediate School, San Bruno, CA
Sally Umbach - Newport Independent Schools, Cincinnati, OH

To get a firsthand perspective, EdWorld interviewed one of these “superstar” teachers, Kathy Casavant, who currently teaches 11th and 12th grade English at Oxford High School in MA, and who has also taught history, French, Latin and math during her 32 years as an educator.

EW:  Have you ever been on television before?
  The only other time I was on television was when I was 5 and on a local kids show, walking through and waving to the folks at home. My only other experience with game shows has been as a member of a winning trivia night team at my daughter's local bar in New York. I've been watching “Jeopardy!” since I was 14 and always said I'd go on some day.

EW:  Describe the process of being selected for the show.
 I took the online test about a year-and-a-half ago. I was contacted last March to audition in Boston. The audition consisted of a 50-question written test and a mock game against two others. The show’s producers called last fall and asked if I'd be interested in being in a teachers’ tournament and then called again in February to officially invite me.

EW:  Was it nerve-wracking appearing on the show?
 I wasn't overly nervous about playing the game or appearing on TV. I was nervous about making a fool of myself by totally bombing. Once the game actually started, it went by too fast for nervousness. In fact, I didn't even notice that the whole set turns red for Final Jeopardy until I watched the match after mine. I think most of us playing reacted the same way.

EW:  How did your years in education help prepare you as a contestant?
 I think being a teacher helped me not so much with the game itself, but with the public aspect of it. After 32 years of standing in front of teenagers and trying to engage them in any way possible, standing on a stage in front of millions of viewers wasn't particularly daunting.

EW:  How did your students and colleagues react to your being on the show? 
My students were incredibly supportive, even going so far as to throw pop quizzes at me on geography questions when I admitted that was a weak area for me. One of our local TV stations came to film my students wishing me luck, and they gave me a very enthusiastic send-off. My colleagues were also supportive; they gave me a good luck card with a tiny good luck bear which I kept in my pocket during taping.

EW:  Did the experience help you better connect with your students?
  As for connecting with students, I've always had a pretty good rapport with my classes. They know they can talk to me, and that I'm interested in what they have to say. It's kind of a mutual respect. They were, however, full of questions when I returned and are still trying to trip me up to reveal how I did.

Tune in to "Jeopardy!”  May 2-13, 2011 to see how Kathy Casavant fared, and to celebrate some of the best minds in the teaching profession.


Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
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