“SMART Technology-focused Educator”
Marilyn Baker was born May 12, 1944 and raised in Saline, Louisiana. She is the daughter of the late Guy Thomas and Mary Pogue Thomas. She met her first husband, Ralph Davis, when he came to buy watermelons from her dad. They married and in March 1962, they moved to Wisner and farmed cotton and soy beans for a living. Marilyn and Ralph had 3 children: Dewanna Lynne Ponder Durbin, Sandra Ann Sullivan, and Ralph Davis Jr. In1978 she accepted a job at Shady Grove High School in Bienville Parish, where she taught first and second grades (often both in the same room) for 7 years.
In 1985 Ralph, Marilyn and their son Ralph “Bubba” Davis, Jr. moved to Singapore where Ralph worked as a company man for Great Eastern Drilling Company. While in Singapore, she did substitute teaching at the Singapore Elementary School and the Singpore American Junior High School.
After moving back to Saline in 1987, her husband Ralph died from a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor in 1988. Marilyn accepted a job at Saline High School and taught there for 18 years of her 25 years. During that time she discovered the SMART board and saw what an excellent learning tool it could be in the classroom. She was a very early participant in the Connections program offered by the SMARTer Kids™ Foundation of Canada, where she developed a passion and commitment to using technology to energize her teaching and her students’ participation. She has since become an advocate of the effectiveness of SMART Board interactive whiteboards in the classroom. To help get a board for the school she and Harriet Woodard wrote a grant for the Connections program offered by the SMARTer Kids Foundation of Calgary Canada. Both Harriet and Marilyn were flown at separate times to Calgary and received training in using the SMART board in the classroom. Marilyn has actually been flown to Calgary 3 times for different types of training and then traveled the last time by RV with her husband, James Baker so she could become a certified SMART Exemplary teacher that would go to schools and teach other teachers across the U.S. how to use the board.
In 2003, Marilyn Baker and Harriet Woodard were the first teachers in Bienville Parish to receive their National Board Certification. Marilyn’s was certified in junior high language arts (EA-ELA at Saline High School. She also became a SMART Exemplary Teacher for SMART Technologies from Calgary. Canada. She met her second husband, retired state trooper and carpenter, James Baker and married him Dec. 23, 2005. James became her helper in installing the boards, and they traveled across Louisiana and even Arkansas. Patti Warren, another SMART Exemplary Teacher often helped Marilyn do the presentations at LACUE (Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators). Additionally, Marilyn has spoken at local, regional and national shows on the value of using SMART Board interactive whiteboards. In 2006, Marilyn developed the same kind of brain tumor that her husband Ralph had died from in 1988. She underwent surgery on August 26, 2006, as well as radiation treatments and chemo in the form of temodar tablets (she still takes 160 mg of temodar daily). Despite being diagnosed with the rare form of brain cancer in 2006, Baker has continued demonstrating the advantages of using SMART Board interactive whiteboards as a learning tool to other teachers. Now, at the age of 64, Baker has an even stronger passion for enhancing the learning environment of every 21st-century classroom across North America. When the interactive whiteboard was first introduced to Baker’s classroom, she was counting down the days to retirement. After using the new technology and seeing the value it added to her lessons, Baker put off retirement and decided to extend her passion for interactive technology in the classroom by visiting other schools. In May 2007, SMART Technologies Inc. announced the first annual Marilyn Baker Award program. The program was established by SMART to recognize veteran teachers who exhibit the same dedication and drive as Marilyn Baker.
“Marilyn Baker is an outstanding educator and a true visionary in education,” says Nancy Knowlton, SMART’s CEO. “SMART is proud to honor Marilyn through this Marilyn Baker award program and we look forward to acknowledging other veteran technology-focused educators who are transforming the classroom and benefiting students for years to come.”
Marilyn was nominated for and received LACUE’S Special Person of the 2007 Yearaward.