George Lucas Educational Foundation

Folwell Dunbar

Founder at Fire Up Learning

Folwell Dunbar: An Abridged Autobiography

Fol·well fόl-wel n, pl. Folwells [from the Cajun Faux and Weeeeeee] This highly endangered and elusive species (folwellius dunbarian, estimated population: 1. Common names include Foz, Fu, Fuzzy, Foly and Fu-Bear) was first discovered in the mid 1960s along the creosote shores of Bayou Bonfuca. Genetic research has shown that it was first conceived in Mexico, carried north by a band of Olmec nomads and finally deposited beneath a bald cypress tree in the Honey Island Swamp. Legend has it that an osprey had landed there with a cottonmouth in its talons. The young child was then placed in a pirogue and set adrift. He was soon discovered by a den of aquatic reptilian royalty and nursed to maturity by a particularly handsome, nine-foot she-gator. Once weaned, the young Folwell began feeding on “nutra rats,” water hyacinth and other vile, introduced “exotic” species. Eventually, the young hominid left its adopted home and sojourned northward to the glaciated reaches of Massachusetts for some good, wholesome Puritanical book learnin. After four frostbitten years of preppy, intellectual enlightenment, Folwell carpetbagged it back south to the gothic tobacco barns of Durham, North Carolina. After another “cough, cough,” four years of higher order thinking and lower order wrestling at Duke University, he ventured to the hinterlands of South America. In Zhumar, Ecuador (pop. 54 on a good day!), he culled rogue sheep, raised rainbow trout in earthen ponds, cooked guinea pigs over an open fire, kept “killer” bees, and drank lots of spittle-tainted chicha and kerosene-toxic trago. Once again though, after almost three years of Andean bliss and Atawalpa’s revenge, the wander-lustful neotropical migrant set off. He trekked along the Ruta Maya, past the land of United Fruit and through the fields of the Zapatistas, until he finally settled in the true “Banana Republic” of Louisiana. In the Big Queasy, he taught Ancient, US and World History, Spanish and First Grade. He studied at Tulane and juggled on Decatur Street, until, once again, he took flight. Landing in the virtual reality of the Research Triangle Park, he helped found a school for techno-savvy cyber children, coached wrestling, and visited countless, generic shopping malls. After only two years in CARY (Concentrated Area of Relocated Yankees), he was drawn back to the Big Queasy by the ethereal beat of Satchmo, Sidney Bichet, and of course Professor Longhair. There, he set out on a quest for comprehensive whole-school reform, a.k.a. Peace Corps with a paycheck. He scooped and delivered dollops of PD, scribbled reams of educational, jargon-infused drivel, and beat the drum loudly for improved teaching and learning. Folwell, his wife Lucia, and their shaggy and occasionally obedient black dog live in an ancient and decrepit shotgun doublewide, two blocks from Desire (of Streetcar fame), a levee away from Old Man River, and a hop, a skip and a short stagger from the Vieux Carre’. They can be found fighting the stupids, social working, and generally barking around…

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