2 minute read

Tommie Lindsey

Remained Dedicated

Such dedication, Lindsey has noted, can be exhausting. He often works from about 8 o'clock in the morning to 10:30 or later at night. With a limited budget for his program, he must take on secretarial tasks on top of his already heavy load of teaching, coaching, and school bureaucratic work. Dealing with his students' personal issues also consumes significant time, as does fundraising—a constant necessity for a program whose budget is constantly at risk of cuts. The demands of his job, Lindsey told Gordon, frequently kept him away from his family; his wife, from whom he was recently divorced, was often left to deal alone with the day-today challenges of raising their children, Erika and Terence.

Yet Lindsey's devotion to his program has also reaped invaluable rewards. Many of his students consider him a father figure, and remain in touch with him after graduation. One former student who phoned in to Gordon's program explained that "we never wanted to disappoint Mr. Lindsey" and that forensics is truly "the love of his life." Lindsey's students, many of whom have attended top colleges and universities, have achieved success in a wide range of fields, including business, medicine, law, and education. Whatever they choose to pursue, Lindsey commented to Seligson, "I want them to go back and be a voice in their communities."

Lindsey has recently received national recognition for his professional achievements. He received the National Forensics League School of Excellence Award in 1999 and in 2000; also in 2000, he was also named National Forensics Coach of the Year. In 2003 he received a Use Your Life Award from Oprah Winfrey's Angel Network. In 2004 he was granted a prestigious MacArthur fellowship: he was the only high school teacher among 23 recipients that year. Noting that Lindsey's students surmount many obstacles—including poverty, broken homes, and the stresses of inner city environments—to achieve success in a field dominated by elite schools, the MacArthur Foundation cited Lindsey's devotion and example. "Through his tireless efforts to support, inspire, and lead his students," the Foundation noted in a press release, "Lindsey serves as a role model...for all who seek to shape the future of young people."



Bay Area Parent, January, 2005.

Parade, February 20, 2005, p. 13.

People Weekly, December 20, 2004, p. 130.

San Jose Mercury News, September 28, 2004.


"Accidental Hero, Room 408: Meet Tommie Lindsey," Public Broadcasting Service, www.pbs.org/accidentalhero/Tommie/ (February 4, 2005).

"Tommie Lindsey," The MacArthur Fellows Program, www.macfdn.org (February 4, 2005).

"Use Your Life Awards," Oprah, www.oprah.com (February 28, 2005).


Accidental Hero, Room 408, television documentary, PBS, 2002.

"Interview with Tommie Lindsey," The Connection, National Public Radio, December 30, 2004, available online at www.theconnection.org (February 4, 2005).

—E. M. Shostak

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: C(hristopher) J(ohn) Koch Biography - C.J. Koch comments: to Sir (Alfred Charles) Bernard Lovell (1913– ) BiographyTommie Lindsey Biography - Inspired By Caring Teacher, Drew Diverse Students To Debate, Remained Dedicated