MacArthur Fellows Program

Tommie Lindsey

High School Debating Coach | Class of 2004

Changing the landscape of opportunities within urban schools.

High School Debating Coach
James Logan High School
Union City, California
53 at time of award
Area of Focus
Education and Training

Tommie Lindsey, an exemplary teacher of competitive forensics (the discipline of public speaking, presentation, and debate), is changing the landscape of opportunities for at-risk students. In his program at Logan High School in Union City, California, Lindsey instills in his students the importance and power of persuasion, based on clear communication, reasoning, and mastery of the facts. American high school forensics is dominated by a small number of schools located primarily in the most affluent areas of the country; by contrast, many of Lindsey's students come from poor families, broken homes, or difficult urban environments. He has repeatedly demonstrated that students can surmount these circumstances by force of character, personal experience, hard work, and commitment to excellence. His students regularly excel in the preparation and delivery of their orations, competing effectively and winning national forensics championships. By showing his students that they can compete intellectually at the highest levels and teaching them skills they can use throughout their lives, Lindsey recasts the imaginative possibilities for hundreds of young women and men; more than ninety percent of his students go on to attend college. Through his tireless efforts to support, inspire, and lead his students, Lindsey serves as a role model not only for them, but for all who seek to shape the future of young people.

Tommie Lindsey received a B.A. (1973) from the University of San Francisco, as well as a B.S. and Secondary Teaching Certificate (1976) from the University of San Francisco. For more than twenty-five years, Lindsey has worked with students in the California public school system, teaching at the Alameda County Court Schools (1975–1980), El Rancho Verde High School (1980–1988), and, since 1988, at James Logan High School, where he is the Head Coach of the James Logan Speech and Debate Team. In 2004, he was inducted into the KEY Coach Society of the National Forensic League.

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Please credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

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