Listee Features — Education

Alice Michaelian


Attributing much of her success to hard work and the large amount of reading she did, Alice Michaelian always knew that she wanted to be a psychologist. Moving out on her own at the age of 18, she completed a bachelor’s degree at Queens College and began her career as a teacher, a period of her life which she enjoyed immensely. She taught math and science for grades 4-7 at Croydon Country Day School at Jamaica Estates in Queens, New York, before joining Public School 86 in District 28 in Queens as a teacher for grades 1-6. In 1971, she was named Teacher of the Year for District 28. Serving as a teacher and supervisor for the N.Y.C. Lab School

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First earning a diploma in nursing in 1961, following three years of study in a hospital 10 miles from her home, Dr. Patricia Anne Duick went on to join the University of Pennsylvania, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in organizational dynamics. During this time, she began her career and worked full time to support her education. She taught nursing at a series of local community colleges, notably starting practical nursing programs at several of them. Accepting a position at Temple University, she taught teaching strategies, philosophy of education, and sociology of education there for 15 years and spent time as the ombudsman for the College of Education. Over the course of her tenure

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Imogene Mixson


Having always known that she wanted to become a teacher, Imogene Mathison Mixon, PhD, received early recognition in her education and was the valedictorian for her sixth, ninth and 12th grade classes. She embarked on her higher education studies at Troy University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in 1959. That same year, she began teaching English at Dothan High School while working toward her Master of Science at Auburn University, which she attained in 1963. In 1966, she joined Enterprise State Community College as an English instructor and became chair of the English department in 1968. She stayed with the college until 1982, during which time she obtained her Doctor of Philosophy from Florida State University in 1972

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A musician all her life, Nadine Sherry “Viv” Guckeisen first began playing the piano and organ when she was three and a half years old. Predominantly self-taught, she began by teaching herself how to imitate the songs she heard on TV. After earning a diploma from Keil High School, she joined Lakeland College, where she completed coursework in 1969. She continued her studies at the college between 1973 and 2004 and it was during this time that she discovered her love of education while volunteering with local schools. As she worked toward her bachelor’s degree in education, she served as a volunteer director with the Kiel Area School District from 1998 to 2004 and as a teacher’s aide with the

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Darlyn Counihan


Darlyn J. Counihan is a mathematics teacher and coach celebrating more than 25 years of dedication to supporting her students with innovative instructional methods and curriculum. Raised in poverty by parents who worked odd jobs to make ends meet, Ms. Counihan discovered her gift for mathematics at a young age and had decided to become an educator by the time she had entered second grade. Inspired by the strength that she saw in her parents and grandparents and her desire to escape the cycle of poverty, she attended Hood College after graduating high school, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1970 and a Master of Arts in 1982, and pursued additional postgraduate coursework at the University of Maryland in College

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Mary Alice Brookins is a retired professor of mathematics who has dedicated her career to ensuring that her students receive thorough and meaningful mathematics and technology instruction. One of seven children in a family that prized education, Ms. Brookins’ greatest inspiration was her parents’ early insistence that schooling and study were the keys to long-term success in life. At a young age, she discovered not just an aptitude for mathematics, but a passion for the subject that would set the tone for the rest of her career. She graduated from Jackson State University in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and began teaching math at the middle school level for a local district while completing graduate-level coursework at Atlanta

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For more than 35 years, Carla Sarauw has dedicated herself to improving the lives of students, staff, and communities as an educational administrator in both public and private parochial school settings. She credits her parents, Ivan Buchanan and Beryl Buchanan-Hughes, with instilling in her the value of education at a young age, volunteering as a Catholic school teacher and working as a night school teacher for adult learners. After graduating from Convent High School, Ms. Sarauw continued her education at the University of the Virgin Islands, earning a Bachelor of Arts in biology in 1978. She continued her studies at the University of the Virgin Islands, beginning as a pre-med major, and eventually deciding to teach for a year, where

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Peggy Smalls


Peggy Ann Lamar Smalls is an award-winning elementary educator and educational consultant who enjoyed a 31-year career in Atlanta Public Schools before retiring in 1997. Born and raised in Atlanta as one of five siblings, Ms. Smalls developed a personal understanding of the value of education from a very young age. She credits her ambition to her parents, especially her mother, who she remembers as “very present and involved,” and who counseled her to always do the best she could at everything she attempted. Ms. Smalls’ mother was open about her own educational background: though a strong student, she had been forced to leave school and find work after her parents’ untimely deaths, and she encouraged her children to make

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Pauline Thomassen


Born in 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio, Pauline F. Thomassen, RN, dreamed of becoming a nurse for as long as she could remember. Galvanized by a traumatic experience with a high school guidance counselor who told her that she would never amount to anything, Ms. Thomassen doubled down on pursuing her dream of a career in medicine, working overtime and borrowing money from her mother in order to pay for nursing school. She enrolled at Southern Colorado State College, earning an Associate of Arts in nursing in 1974, and received a tuition grant to continue her education at the school. The following year, Ms. Thomassen completed a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and relocated to the Seattle, Washington, area to begin

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Deborah Messer Gonzalez is a teacher and educational administrator currently serving as the superintendent of the Slater School District, a position she has held since 2016. A proud graduate of Slater High School, Ms. Gonzalez was raised and educated in the district that she would later return to teach in. For much of her life, she anticipated building a career in business administration, and completed a bachelor’s degree in business management at Missouri Valley College in 1984. She credits her husband of 36 years, Bob, with providing her the initial inspiration to consider a career in education. A teacher himself, Bob was hired by the Slater School District in the 1980s, bringing Ms. Gonzalez back into contact with the student

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