Educators In Memoriam: 6 Greats We Lost In 2014
Unfortunately, every year we lose some remarkable educators, who left a huge impact in spite of being just one person — men and women, who refused to look in the mirror and see themselves and their lives as insignificant. They strove to reach out to others and make the world a better place one child at a time. We’d like to recognize some of these fine people throughout the remainder of the year with our Educators in Memoriam. Today we take a look at three very special people.
Betty Bertaux passed away on October 10, 2014 of pancreatic cancer. She died peacefully at her home in Naples, Florida.
“Betty Bertaux spent her life making music, in every possible form—as performer, conductor, teacher, composer, creator of curriculum, founder of Children’s Chorus of Maryland & School of Music, and mentor to so many other musicians and teachers. She was a creative force, and she brought that same vital, exuberant energy to everything she did—writing, cooking, traveling, adventuring, and exploring the world. She was always ready to learn something new, tackle the next challenge, and share her discoveries with the people around her. Even after her diagnosis, her friends marveled at the creativity and positive spirit she brought to the treatment process, finding ways to elevate even chemotherapy to an affirming ritual and a kind of art.
“A singer has a responsibility to be musically literate just as much as an orchestral member,” Bertaux told The Baltimore Evening Sun in a 1986 interview. “I thought we needed a children’s choir which offered good choral performance but also a solid program of training. Well, you know how they say, ‘Somebody ought to do this’? I decided I was going to be the one to do this.”
In 2001, Betty Bertaux and the Children’s Chorus of Maryland established the American Kodály Institute at Loyola University Maryland, which is a training facility for music educators and choral conductors. She also designed a training program that took children from beginning to intermediate classes, then to a training choir, and finally to a 30-member concert choir that traveled throughout the nation and internationally giving public performances.
Click here for more on this remarkable woman.
Elga R. Wasserman
Elga R. Wasserman, who as special assistant to former Yale President Kingman Brewster oversaw the early years of co-education at Yale, died on Nov. 11 at the age of 90.
Wasserman was an expert on issues facing women and other minority populations in academia. She was charged by Brewster with overseeing the entrance of the first co-educational class at Yale College and then managed some of the academic aspects of the next four classes to include women. In addition to university administration, she also held careers in science, activism, family law, and publishing.
After the first year of coeducation, Wasserman wrote: “Women students need an unusual sense of self to persevere in a predominately male setting.” In an interview with the Yale Alumni Magazine years later, she noted the wide media coverage the university received by becoming coeducational. “[T]he media were all over the campus,” she said in the interview. “You would think we were admitting women to a college on the moon. They wanted to televise classes. We had admitted women knowing they would be in a fishbowl, and we took women who we thought were sturdy.”
Click here for more on this trailblazer.
Fred Weintraub died on May 2, 2014. He was an active member, participant, consultant, and advisor to the Council for Exceptional Children, the Teacher Education Division of CEC, and the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education.
Fred is best known for being one of the architects of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA), a precursor to the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act. Wendy Murawski, President of TED, remembers Fred coming to her classes at California State University Northridge and talking about how EAHCA and its components came about. “Fred would tell my students,” Wendy remembers, “that ‘it was just a few of us guys sitting around saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get all the folks together who love and work with the kid, from different perspectives, to say where the child is now, where they all thought he should be in a year, and how they could help him get there?’ Fred would then pause and say, ‘We never in a million years thought it would become ‘The student will hang his red hat on the third peg to the left 4 out of 7 times with 82% accuracy on days ending in Y!’ The students would all laugh and Fred would go on to share how much he had seen change for students with disabilities before and after 1975.”
From a letter Fred wrote at the end of his career: “I have had, thanks to many of you, a wonderful career. The campaigns we fought led to persons with disabilities having civil rights, children with disabilities having the right to an education and establishing national standards for the special education profession.”
Click here to read more about Mr. Weintraub.
Professor Janette Klingner, died on March 20th, 2014 after valiantly fighting an aggressive brain tumor … she was not only a cherished colleague and friend, but also a deeply loved professor, advisor, and mentor to countless students. More importantly, she was a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, and cousin in a close-knit family that was at the center of her life.
Before she became a famous researcher, Janette was a teacher. … Her dissertation research at the University of Miami began her groundbreaking work that has come to be known as Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR), which has been fully adopted by Denver Public Schools in partnership with Padres & Jóvenes Unidos. In Janette’s words, “CSR is really about helping students develop their critical thinking skills. It’s also about helping them be more active learners. The whole premise of strategy instruction is to make visible–to make explicit–for struggling readers the comprehension strategies good readers already use.” Janette also recently was leading RTI Effectiveness Models for English-learners (REME), a large project designed to bring culturally responsive instruction to predominant Response to Intervention (RTI) models for students with special needs. Her research has been funded extensively by the U.S. Department of Education and many private organizations.
In April 2014, the American Educational Research Association’s Special Education Research SIG awarded Professor Klingner their Distinguished Researcher Award in recognition of her lifetime contributions to special education research, especially for her work focused on culturally and linguistically diverse students. Janette’s many publications, which included 15 books and over 115 articles and book chapters, reflected her tireless efforts to address the inequities found so prevalently in education. In addition to her well-known reading strategies research and studies of disproportionate representation of students of color in special education, Janette made impressive contributions to the research literatures on teacher learning, teacher collaboration, and the sustainability and scale up of effective interventions. Her work is deeply informed by practice and undertaken in the context of real classrooms, schools, and school districts, thus epitomizing what is sometimes called “use-inspired” research. She was also an active proponent of mixed methods and used both quantitative and qualitative methods adeptly in her extensive, field-based research studies.
Click here to read more about Janette.
James J. Gallagher
On January 17, 2014, the University of North Carolina and the world lost a great innovator in both the special education and gifted and talented education sectors. According to The New York Times External link, 87-year-old Dr. James J. Gallagher passed away in his home after a lifetime of advocating for those who needed support the most. At the time of his death, he was still active as a senior scientist emeritus at Chapel Hill’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.
Dr. Gallagher was one of the driving forces behind, and the chief architect for, Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), which were first implemented nationally in the 1970s. Prior to the creation of IEPs, many schools tended not to focus on the needs of the unique child with special needs but took more exclusionary practices. According to Mary Ruth Coleman, senior scientist emerita at the Frank Porter Child Development Institute, “When Dr. Gallagher began working on behalf of children with disabilities, these children were excluded from school. Due in large part to his efforts, public laws were passed to ensure that children with disabilities would receive a free and appropriate public education.”
In addition to his push for IEPs and gifted and talented education, Gallagher was able to push legislation to ensure the rights of the most vulnerable students. He was the associate commissioner for education (1967–1970) and then became the first chief of the Bureau for the Education of the Handicapped with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He was instrumental in the passage of the 1975 Education of All Handicapped Children Act, now the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This 1975 law ensured that all children received a free education, regardless of disabilities. This law also ensured that all students enrolled in special education received IEPs. According to Dr. Coleman, “He was one of the major advocates who saw to it that this law was written and passed. He knew that children with disabilities would have unique learning needs that required specific educational support.”
Click here to read more on Dr. Gallagher.
Clement Alexander Price
Clement Alexander Price, the Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor and the founding director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University-Newark, died on November 5 after suffering a stroke three days earlier. He was 69 years old.
Professor Price had served on the Rutgers University faculty since 1975. He was the author and editor of many scholarly works including Freedom Not Far Distant: A Documentary History of Afro-Americans in New Jersey (New Jersey Historical Society, 1980) and his most recent effort, the three-volume Slave Culture: A Documentary Collection of the Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project (Greenwood Publishing, 2004), where he was a co-editor.
Professor Price held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. He held a Ph.D. in history from Rutgers University.
Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark, said in a statement that Professor Price “exuded a love of humanity so deep and wide, so thorough and universal, that one could not be in his presence and not want to join him in whatever endeavor engaged him, because whatever engaged him was never about what he needed, but what we all need — understanding, reconciliation, justice, generosity, peace, love.”
Click here to read more about Dr. Price.
Unfortunately, the number of truly amazing educators that we lost in 2014 goes well beyond this list, but the contributions that they made during their all-too-brief lives will continue to reverberate throughout the education system and offer burning hope for what 2015 and the years beyond will bring, while setting a gold standard for future educators. Rest in peace, all.