Then...       and       Now

"My life since……" In my mind I'm writing a letter to "long lost" school friends, but I'll try to follow Bob's helpful format.

School/College Highlights - I had the best of all worlds K-12, attending a large comprehensive high school after eight happy grades in three-room Blauvelt Public School. It was a shock, however, trying to blend with the sophisticated, grown-up freshman classmates from the Nyacks where girls already wore lipstick and make-up!

Miss Cooke pointed me in the direction of Vassar (along with Karen Dahlberg and Cristina Biaggi) where I majored in History of Art and minored in Child Study. I've been an enthusiastic Vassar volunteer ever since, and saw our three children make my college theirs in their own ways.

Marriage, Family and Career Highlights - After college, I taught kindergarten in Tappan and Blauvelt, then earned the M. Ed. at Harvard in Elementary and International Education. Married in '62, my husband Arthur and I went with an Operation Crossroads Africa work camp group to whom President Kennedy said, "You are the forerunners of the Peace Corps, the real ambassadors." After a summer in Kenya digging ditches, building a classroom, and living with African co-workers, we wanted more. On Carnegie Fellowships we studied at Teachers College and University of London in preparation for teaching two years in Africa.

We planned to "settle down in the US and have a family later!" Heather, our first child, was born in London on our first anniversary and went to Zambia with us as a baby. Sean and Rebecca were born in Zambia where we stayed until 1970. I taught Art, English and Phys Ed to prospective elementary teachers, as well as starting a local preschool. Living and learning there changed the direction of our lives forever. We saw how "the whole village" really can raise children and experienced the new independence of a country.

Since returning to USA in 1970 I've been a career volunteer, working with US and international students through American Field Service, serving as National Chair of EPIC (Every Person Influences Children), and being an elected school board member for twenty-three years. Of course we provided all the PTA cookies, transportation and cheerleading our children's activities needed. I've just resigned after twelve years as director and officer of the New York State School Boards Association, a decision that led my husband to say HE is now free!

Travel/Vacation Highlights - Our travels developed from our work abroad, relationships with international students we have hosted (Japan, Australia, South Africa, Turkey, Uruguay) and our children going on student programs (Uruguay, Denmark). As a result, we've visited in homes and ridden trains on all continents except South America. Family vacations with our children were usually on a lake in Canada or Cape Cod where I lifeguarded during college years. Now our grandchildren, aged 5 and 8, motivate us to go where they are, the Pacific Northwest.

Hobbies/Sports - Leisure activities are hiking, cross-country skiing, rearranging the planting around the yard, water color painting, and reading when I can (Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible and High Tide in Tucson are recent favorites).

Civic/Church/Political Activities - I became a Quaker in the '70's, as a result of our African experience of simplicity, brotherhood/sisterhood and desire for peace in the world. I've taken part in marches for peace and justice over the years, write letters to the editor, belong to the League of Women Voters, and participated in the Million Mom March in DC this year.

Achievements/Awards/Outstanding Events - My greatest award is the sparkly pin from my granddaughter, which says, "World's Best Grandma." Beside it these others take a lesser place: University of London Essay Prize for "Teaching Art in East Africa," Distinguished Service Erie County School Boards, Distinguished Service National School Boards, Memorial Scholarship at Vassar for "Force of Character," and Pi Lambda Theta Education Honor Society at Harvard.

Anything else that you may want to say - Yes! When talking recently with Bob Merkert and Martin Roberts, I realized that we will all find much in common with each other in the first few moments of conversation with any classmate! Reading "Highlights" from those who can't attend the reunion will be a welcome connection.

I also want to write down two quotations, which come to me often. My father always said, "Anyone can do anything as long as you read the directions!" Margaret Meade said, "Never doubt that one committed person can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has!"

Update 2005

Regionally, for 5 years I have co-chaired a Task Force on Regional Collaboration and Shared Services, the goal being to increase efficiency, effectiveness and equity for children in the 30 public school districts of Erie County.  We engaged Cornell University in a study of possibilities and this year action is beginning toward improved learning for ALL students through collaboration in a very economically distressed area.

Our other big project is with a partnership we have formed to support and sustain a group of orphans of the AIDS epidemic in Kenya.  The orphanage/care center is in the village where we worked in 1962 with Operation Crossroads Africa, and the founder/director is a Kenyan friend from that time.  We returned to Kenya in Sept '04 witha group of 12 family and friends to help rebuild  a building for orphan residence.  Please check website:  We welcome classmate supporters!

Update 2010
It was great fun to be with classmates at the 55 for 55 event and to read messages from those who couldn't be there in person!  Thank you, Bob, for bringing us together! Years fly, and our oldest grandchild Mariko lived with me for two weeks and joined in activities with the orphan children at Crossroads Springs School, Kenya, last summer.  The school now has 300 children, K-Grade 8. Thanks to generous supporters, the children grow and learn; and I have received 2 honors as a result of everyone's work:  "Spirit of Vassar" award for "extraordinary volunteer service here and abroad" and Rotary International's Paul Harris Fellow, "in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world."  Thank you, classmates, who have joined in support of the orphan children! 
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