The Celebrated Music Educator Joseph Edgar Maddy

6923752_124979199529One of the most talented teachers of music education in American history was the celebrated educator Joseph Edgar Maddy.

Joseph was born on October 14, 1891, in Wellington, Kansas, the second son of two teachers. Joseph never graduated from high school, but as a young man, he attended the Wichita College of Music in Wichita, Kansas, where he studied violin. Later he became a member of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. In 1918, he became the first music supervisor of instrumental music in America when he accepted the position in Rochester, New York.

After a short time in Rochester, Joseph was encouraged by Will Earhart to take a job at Morton High School in Richmond, Indiana, to revive the outstanding school and community music program Earhart had developed there some years earlier. Joseph remained in Richmond for four years. In 1924 Maddy was invited to Ann Arbor to become the supervisor of music in public schools and the chairman of the Music Department for the University of Michigan. There he developed one of the few conducting courses in the country, and he also conducted the Michigan All State High School Orchestra. While teaching in 1925, Maddy organized the first National High School Orchestra to play for the Music Supervisors National Conference (MSNC) in Detroit in 1926. In 1927, Joseph was invited to bring the National High School Orchestra of over 250 High School musicians from 39 states to the MSNC in Dallas that year.

While in Ann Arbor, Maddy also pursued other approaches to music education by developing teaching materials in collaboration with Thaddeus P. Giddings for a radio teaching program.The radio program taught band and orchestra instrumentation with instruction books distributed by NBC. By 1936 their radio program aired five times per week, and believed to have reached 225,000 student listeners. It was sustained until 1940, and employed professional musicians to help with technique demonstrations.

In 1928 Maddy formed the National High School Orchestra and Band Camp, incorporated as the National High School Orchestra Camp on July 6, 1927.The camp exists today in Interlochen, Michigan, as the Interlochen Center for the Arts and has generated several complementary entities including Interlochen Arts Academy, Interlochen College of the Creative Arts, and Interlochen Public Radio.Joseph also published and collaborated on a number of instructional materials and courses for elementary band and orchestra including the Universal Teacher, Tritone Folio, the Willis Graded School Orchestra and Band Series, and the Modern School Graded Orchestra Books.

He was a member of the Epsilon Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and a recipient of the Charles E. Lutton Man of Music Award. He was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity, and he received an honorary degree from Earlham College in 1965.

This pioneering music educator passed away on April 18, 1966, at the age of 74, in Travers City, Michigan.

Twelve Stories of Heroic Teachers Presented in Marzell’s New Book, Chalkboard Heroes

Marzell-2I am happy to announce that my second book, Chalkboard Heroes: Twelve Courageous Teachers and their Deeds Valor, has just been released. This new volume presents inspirational life stories about some of America’s most amazing teachers. These educators were not only talented teachers, but they were also pioneers, trailblazers, and social reformers influential in America’s history.

I love to tell stories about outstanding teachers. There are so many phenomenal stories that could be told! I believe that teachers represent the best our country has to offer, and, as a group, they are among the most dedicated, hardworking, and talented people anyone can know. It fills me with joy to be able to share the stories of just a few of the amazing individuals who have made such significant contributions to the lives of so many. And it fills me with pride to know that, every day, talented educators all over the country are making significant contributions to the lives of their students.

You can order Chalkboard Heroes from amazon in print now. Simply click on this link be taken to the page where you can order. The e-book versions will be ready, I am told, in about three weeks. Enjoy!

Emma Cramer: Remarkable Educator and Member of the Ohio State House of Representatives

108134Often talented educators make their mark in the political arena as well as in professional teachers circles. Such was the case of Emma M. Cramer, a public high school teacher who was also a member of the House of Representatives for her home state of Ohio.

Emma was born on June 21, 1859, the daughter of Albert C. and Louise (Crone) Cramer. Born and educated in Portsmouth, she later went on to teach at Portsmouth High School. She attended college during the summers, earning degrees from both the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Chicago. She began her teacher at the age of 20, and her career spanned 54 years, until her retirement in 1933. Her students described her as thorough and exacting, but also patient, persevering, and sympathetic.

During her teaching career, Emma was also involved in many civic organizations. She was a member of the Portsmouth City Council (1912-1925), Chairperson of the Republican Women of Scioto County (1922-26), and member of the Portsmouth Board of Education (1934-37). After she was elected to the state House, she continued to teach while occupying her seat in the legislature. Her colleagues often said she was an individual of stalwart character and tireless in her efforts to serve others.

Emma donated her time and energy not only to the legislature and to education, but also to other organizations, including the Ohio League of Women Voters, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Portsmouth Public Library Board of Trustees, the Ohio Library, the National Municipal League, the State and National Education Associations, the Council of Republican Women of Ohio, the Women’s City Club, and the Business and Professional Women’s Club.

This remarkable educator passed away on June 15, 1952, at the age of 92.

Ticasuk Brown: Alaska’s Inupiaq Chalkboard Champion

BrownThere are many examples of talented educators who have advanced the cause of multicultural understanding and racial equality. This is certainly the case with Emily Ticasuk Brown, an Alaska Native who was also an elementary school teacher, poet, and writer.

Emily Ticasuk Brown was born in 1904 in Unlakleet, Alaska. Her Inupiaq name, Ticasuk, translated into English means “where the four winds gather their treasures from all parts of the world…the greatest of which is knowledge.” Ticasuk came into the world an Alaska Native with blended heritage. Her grandfather, Sergei Ivanoff, was Russian, and her grandmother, Chikuk, was Yupik Native. Ticasuk’s parents were Stephen Ivanoff and Malquay.

As a young girl, Ticasuk attended elementary school in Shaktoolik, Alaska, a village co-founded by her father. After her graduation from high school, she earned her teaching credential in Oregon, and then she returned to Alaska where she accepted her first teaching position at an elementary school in Kotzebue. The course of her life quickly changed, however, after she witnessed the numerous health hazards in her village. To address this concern, she moved to Washington to study nursing. There she met her husband and married. Later Ticasuk and her husband returned to Alaska, where she taught for two years, until his early death. She returned to college in 1959, earning two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Alaska, and then her master’s degree in 1974. Her master’s thesis, Grandfather of Unalakleet, was republished as The Roots of Ticasuk: An Eskimo Woman’s Family Story in 1981.

As an Inpiaq educator and supporter of bi-lingual education, Ticasuk created a curriculum based on her native tongue. She also worked extensively on the creation of an encyclopedia of the Inupiaq language. She is widely recognized by Alaska Native people as a writer of articles that further understanding about Eskimo cultures and education. In addition, this talented teacher organized the Alaska Heritage Writers Association.

For her efforts, Ticasuk was given a Presidential Commission by President Richard Nixon, and she was in line to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Alaska. Unfortunately, in 1982 Ticasuk passed away before the honor could be conferred. She was 78 years old. In 2009, this talented educator and writer was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.

Ticasuk Brown: a true chalkboard champion.

Elmer C. “Mike” Alft: High School History Teacher, Published Historian, and Elgin Town Mayor

ecThere are many examples of talented teachers who win acclaim in professions other than teaching. This is the case with Elmer C. “Mike” Alft, a retired high school history teacher who is also recognized as an American historian and the former mayor of Elgin, Illinois. He is pictured here, on the right, with a relative.

Mike was born in 1925 in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Grinnell College in 1949. Founded in 1846, Grinnell College is a private, co-ed, residential liberal arts and sciences college located in Grinnell, Iowa. In 1950, Mike earned a master’s degree from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.

Mike’s long career as a teacher at Elgin High School spanned four decades. While teaching, he also served as a city councilman, mayor, and secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Gail Borden Public Library District. Mike was first elected to the Elgin City Council in April, 1963. Four years later he was elected the mayor of Elgin. As was the custom at the time, the distinguished educator did not seek re-election when his four-year term expired in 1971. The dedicated educator also taught part-time at Elgin Community College.

Mike is probably best-known as the historian of his home town of Elgin. He has published numerous books on the history of Elgin and the surrounding area, in addition to hundreds of articles for the local newspaper, the Elgin Daily Courier-News. He currently writes a bi-weekly column on Elgin’s history.