Marcia Brown: Teacher, Renowned Children’s Book Author, and Illustrator

Marcia_J._BrownMany talented educators earn recognition for achievements outside their classrooms. Marcia Joan Brown is a spectacular example of this. She is an internationally renowned author and illustrator of children’s books. Marcia has published over thirty books in her lifetime, and she is a three-time winner   of the coveted Caldecott Medal, the highest award for excellence in children’s picture book illustrations bestowed by the American Library Association.

Marcia Brown was born in Rochester, New York, on July 13, 1918, one of three daughters of the Reverend Clarence Edward and Adelaide Elizabeth (Zimber) Brown. As a young child, Marcia lived in several small towns in upstate New York, including Cooperstown and Kingston, as her father moved from one ministerial post to another. She was raised in a family that supported artistic expression, and she decided at an early age to become an artist. In a videotaped interview in 1996, Marcia reminisced about the books and artworks in her local public library in Cooperstown, New York, that as a child nurtured her sense of wonder and joy in beautiful things.

After her high school graduation in 1936, Marcia enrolled in New York State College for Teachers (NYSCT), the University at Albany’s predecessor, where she majored in English and Drama. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 1940. While in college her literary and artistic talents blossomed, as she made numerous contributions to the college’s literary and humor magazines.

After graduating from NYSCT, Marcia accepted her first position as a high school teacher at Cornwall High School in New York City. In 1943, she began working in the New York Public Library’s Central Children’s Room. She spent the next six years gaining valuable experience as a storyteller ,while also delving into the library’s extensive international and historical collections. She published her first four books while working in the library’s Central Children’s Room.

During her long career as a writer and illustrator, Marcia produced over thirty children’s books, and many of her titles have been reprinted in other languages, including Afrikaans, German, Japanese, Spanish, and Xhosa-Bantu. Critics have marveled at her use of spare texts, strong images, and a variety of media, including woodcuts, pen and ink, and gouache. Her characters are described as lively, humorous, magical, and enchanting, and they include handsome princes, sly cats, evil sorcerers, flying elephants, and snow queens.

From 1955 to 1983 Brown won a total of three Caldecott Medals, the award bestowed annually to the illustrator of the year’s “most distinguished American picture book for children” by the American Library Association. She had been a runner-up six times from 1948 to 1954, and those six books have been designated Caldecott Honor Books.

Today, Marcia Brown lives in California and continues to produce works of writing and illustration.

Comic Book Artist and High School Art Teacher Franco Aureliani

f0d86838-3a14-3caf-9ea7-ebd8ba059ea9Often talented educators win acclaim in fields other than teaching. Such is the case for Franco Aureliani, an art teacher at Carmel High School in Carmel, New York. Franco has taught courses in studio art, portfolio preparation, drawing and painting, and advance placement studio art.

In addition to teaching, Franco is a comic book writer and artist. With Art Baltazar, Franco won acclaim for co-writing the DC Comics series Tiny Titans, for which he won an Eisner Award for Best Publication for Kids in both 2009 and 2011.He also won an Eisner Award for Early Readers in 2014 for Itty Bitty Hellboy. The two have made a name for themselves in the comic industry for their work on some of the most fun and ageless comics of all time.

Isaac Scott Hathaway: Talented High School Teacher, Ground-Breaking University Professor, and Accomplished Artist

hathawayportrait_tuskegee6[1]Many chalkboard champions have distinguished themselves in fields other than education. Such is certainly the case with Isaac Scott Hathaway, a high school teacher and university professor who was also an accomplished artist. Isaac is probably best recognized for the masks and busts he created of important African American leades, and as the designer of the first two US coins to feature black Americans.

Isaac was born on April 4, 1872, in Lexington, Kentucky. Following his high school graduation in 1890, he began his formal academic studies at Chandler Junior College in Lexington, and attended classes in art and dramatics at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. While in Boston, he sculpted his first bust, using as his subject Bishop Richard Allen, the first bishop of the African American Episcopal Church. Isaac’s first formal training in ceramics came from Cincinnati Art Academy.

At the conclusion of his studies and training, Isaac returned home to Lexington to teach at Keene High School. There he worked from 1897 to 1902. He also opened his first art studio, where he made plaster parts of human anatomy for schools and medical uses. In 1907 Isaac relocated to Washington, DC, where began making sculpture busts, including those of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, university president Booker T. Washington, poet Paul L. Dunbar, and scholar W.E.B. Dubois.

In 1912, the accomplished teacher and talented artist married Ettic Ramplin of South Boston, Virginia. Sadly, she died early in their marriage from complications in childbirth. Following Ettic’s death, Isaac established a course in ceramics at Branch Normal College, now known as the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff. He taught there and at a high school in Pine Bluff until 1937. In 1926, Isaac married his second wife, Umer George Porter. The couple moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1937 to inaugurate the ceramics department at Tuskegee University. Shortly thereafter, Umer earned a degree from Tuskegee and became Isaac’s assistant.

The remarkable educator made an important contribution to the art world in 1945 when he developed Alabama kaolin clay as a medium, and he became the first artist on record to “make the clay behave.” The following year, Isaac was commissioned by the Fine Arts Commission of the United States Mint to design a half dollar coin using Booker T. Washington as the face and subject. In 1950 he was commissioned to make another coin, this time combining the images of both Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver.

During the summer of 1947, Hathaway broke a significant racial barrier when he introduced ceramics at the all-white Auburn Polytechnic Institute, now known as Auburn University. In 1947, Isaac and Umer relocated to Montgomery, Alabama, where Isaac became the director of ceramics at Alabama State College. He worked there until his retirement in 1963.

Throughout his life, Professor Hathaway received many awards, including honorary degrees, doctorates, or fine arts awards from various colleges and universities where he helped introduce ceramics as a field of study. This chalkboard champion and amazing artist passed away at his home in Tuskegee, Alabama, on March 12, 1967.