“Excellent speaker! It all makes sense when put together like this.”
This was a comment from one teacher attendee at the University of Maine Middle Level Institute in 1996 after hearing John Lounsbury’s keynote address on “Six Major Educational Trends.” “It all makes sense when put together like this” may be the essence of John’s work in his remarkable 68-year educational career. It all makes sense when John advocates for young adolescents. It all makes sense when he outlines his vision for middle level education, when he encourages teachers.
It all makes sense when John Lounsbury promotes teacher education. It all makes sense because John has thought about these ideas so much and so deeply—What young adolescents need. How schools for them should be organized. How their teachers should be prepared to deal with this unique age group. What kind of curriculum they should have. And much more.
If you have known John Lounsbury, as many reading this book have, you will nod knowingly about the many qualities his friends have come to know about him—his dedication to his family and his work, his strong moral and ethical standards, and his deep interest in making all of us think about the best possible educational opportunities for young adolescents.
If you don’t know John personally, you will know him well when you finish reading this book. Author Sheila Gloer has done a terrific job telling John’s story and how he came to be called the “conscience of the middle school movement.”
In this thoughtful and engaging book about John Lounsbury’s life and influence, you will learn about the man who has been “middle school mentor to all” as the title so aptly recognizes. Through his speeches, articles, books, presentations, service on boards and committees, and his dynamic leadership on so many educational projects, John mentored thousands of teachers, administrators, and university professors, from the newest middle level teacher to the oldest professor.
I’ve known John for nearly 50 years and in that time never once heard him say anything bad about another human being. He is, as you will discover in this book, an incredibly kind individual, genuinely concerned about anyone he contacts. When meeting John for the first time or the hundredth, he greets you with his full attention, asking myriad questions and getting to know you right away.
I’ve seen John do this with dozens of people over the years and always appreciated seeing him in action with middle level students. He loves to talk to students to find out what they think about their schools, their teachers, and themselves. As much as John believes in strong middle level schools, he believes even more in the potential of young adolescents.
But don’t be misled by the portrait of John Lounsbury as the self-effacing, polite, and dignified professor, editor, and dean that he was. John Lounsbury remains a powerhouse of the middle school movement—a dynamo in person and in print. John’s beliefs are ever present in his advocacy for young adolescents and middle level schools.
Always an engaging and powerful speaker, John often preferred to work in the background. He wanted his mentees to think things through and, more importantly, act on what they knew to be the right thing to do. His mentoring of several generations of middle level advocates may be his greatest contribution to middle level education. Given his prolific writing on so many topics about young adolescents and middle level education, his influence will endure.
I had the happy opportunity to work side-by-side with John Lounsbury for nearly 20 years. Although I was in Maine, and John in Georgia, we spent hours editing, writing, and conferring about projects via phone, email, and Skype. John didn’t miss a beat with the emerging technology and used it to its fullest through the late 1980s onward.
John’s “second career” as editor of NMSA/AMLE Publications was self-taught. John’s love of language is legendary as you will see in the quotes throughout this book. He always looks for the one right word or phrase. Extra language is superfluous and soon eliminated.
Always an excellent and concise writer, as editor of hundreds of NMSA/AMLE books, professional development kits, videos, and other resources, John was a tenacious editor who improved the work of even the best writer. Those who submitted to his critical editor’s eye—and red pen—were humbled by the “suggestions” for improving their work. Humbled, yes, but grateful because John’s edits and suggestions were always spot-on!
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sheila Gloer for her excellent and insightful telling of John Lounsbury’s story. John Lounsbury—wise, discerning, and compassionate—is a gift to young adolescents and all those who teach them.
Edward Brazee is a John H. Lounsbury Award winner, Professor Emeritus of Middle Level Education – University of Maine, and served as editor of NMSA professional publications with Dr. Lounsbury amongst many other roles as a middle level education advocate.