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Champions for Education

Marjorie Barondes
Marjorie Barondes

As a child, Marjorie Vaughan Barondes (AB ’52, TeachCert ’52) showed great talent as a violinist and as a Lightning sailing skipper. By the time she was a student at U-M, she was first chair, second violin in the university orchestra. But it was in the sailing club—not a concert hall—where she met her future husband, Arthur Barondes (MSE ’51), a West Point Air Force lieutenant and graduate student in aeronautical engineering. Marjorie and Arthur married in 1952, the same year she graduated from the School of Education with her bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate. Later that year, she began her teaching career at Nightingale Elementary School in Venice, California.

While Art was on active duty, Marjorie established their family on Air Force installations around the country, including Los Angeles, Alamogordo, Houston, Northern Virginia, Montgomery, and Grand Forks. As an Air Force wife, her opportunities to continue teaching full-time were limited, so she worked as a substitute teacher in elementary schools. In the 1960s, she continued her education at the University of Alabama, where she was invited to join their PhD program, but the family had to move again. When they settled in Virginia, Marjorie taught in Fairfax County for many years. Coupling her passions for elementary education and the violin, she taught in elementary schools and as a strings teacher. She also found time to teach privately and play the violin in local symphonies.

“To Marjorie, a challenge—whether it was education, strings, or as a homemaker—was an invitation to excel. Based on her School of Education training, Marjorie was motivated to have her students and her four children achieve their potential,” says Art. “Teaching was her life's work, and she did it very well.”

Marjorie credited what was then the School of Education with her success in the classroom, and enjoyed giving back to the school to help current students. "Giving back," says Art, “has continued as a tradition in her memory.”  

Art has given several gifts to honor Marjorie over the years, including one to name—and now renovate—the Marjorie V. Barondes Conference Room in the Office of Student Affairs. Across the hall, another gift—the Marjorie V. Barondes Infinite Impact wall—recognizes outstanding educators. Most recently, the Marjorie Vaughan Barondes Scholarship will establish a scholarship for future educators in Marjorie’s memory.


Sherri Hyla
Sherri Hyla

Even before she had kids of her own, Sharon "Sherri" Hyla (ABEd ’77, TeachCert ’77) always loved working with children, recalls her husband of 53 years, Jim Hyla (MedRes ’77, MedFellowship ’77). The couple met when Jim was in medical school in Rochester, New York. Sherri was a substitute teacher and literacy volunteer. When she and Jim moved to Ann Arbor so he could pursue a rheumatology fellowship at U-M, Sherri enrolled at what was then the School of Education. With several years of experience working with students already under her belt, she thrived as she pursued her bachelor’s degree, enjoying her time at the school thoroughly. She was a proud graduate of the Class of 1977, and later went on to earn her master’s degree in education from SUNY Oswego.

Over the course of her long career in the classroom, Sherri taught history in the City of Syracuse School District at both Grant Middle School and Henninger High School. Her favorite period to teach was the Civil War. As she often taught students for two years at a time, she grew close to her pupils, and over the summers invited the children to the camp the Hylas owned on Cazenovia Lake.

Although the Hylas returned to upstate New York after just a few years in Ann Arbor, Sherri remained deeply fond of the town and her time at the School of Education throughout her life. Before she passed away in 2022, she and Jim had discussed establishing a scholarship fund to support teacher education students at the Marsal School. Through the endowed Sharon "Sherri" Hyla Scholarship Fund, Jim hopes that Sherri’s love of teaching, and of kids, will be carried on by the next generation of teachers. 


Christine and Ron May
Christine and Ron May

When Christine May (AB ’74, TeachCert ’74) began her studies at U-M as an undergraduate, she wasn’t thinking about the field of education. May was set on pursuing a major in mathematics with a minor in political science. She hoped to one day work for the Gallup Poll organization. That all changed when she met Law School professor Layman E. Allen.

Allen was a pioneer in using mathematics as a logic tool. His interest in teaching mathematical logic to lawyers led to the development of instructional gaming. Allen’s Games for Thinkers—games about math and logic—included “Wff ‘n Proof,” “Equations,” and “Onsets.”

“I took an independent study to learn Allen’s games and discovered my passion for working with children,” says May. “I found that the games not only enhanced math education, but helped to develop deductive reasoning skills, or logic as well.”

After graduating with her teaching certification, May went on to teach math in Troy, Michigan, and Lisbon, Ohio, before taking a break to raise her children, Andrew (MBA ’22) and Nicole (BS ’02, MHSA ’08). Once her daughter was in school, she decided to return to the classroom herself and earned her continuing certification through the University of Michigan. She spent the next 20 years at Berkley High School in Berkley, Michigan, and Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan. Throughout the course of her career, she taught every math course from basic middle school mathematics to calculus. Because of her earlier  gaming experience while at U-M, May utilized strategies and techniques of discovery in her classroom routine. Additionally, May recognized the importance of clubs to support student classwork and stretch their knowledge and interest in math and science. She initiated multiple math/science clubs, and, along with her son  Andrew, launched Berkley High School’s FIRST Robotics Club and Robotics Course.

It’s fitting that May met her husband Ron May (BSECiv ’73) in a math class at U-M. Now the couple have established the Ron & Christine May Family Scholarship Fund, a scholarship that will support students at Marsal Education who are pursuing a teaching career in STEM.

“We need talented people in science, math, and technology,” says Christine May. “It’s easy to take a different position outside of education. The pay is better. There are more perks.” But she hopes that the scholarship will help attract motivated students to the Marsal School to become educators. “When I finally decided to enter the teaching profession, it was because I had found my passion. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to provide scholarship funds to encourage and assist other individuals impassioned to help young minds develop and grow, while teaching students the skills to become lifelong learners. Ron, I, and our family are delighted to establish this fund for U-M’s Marsal Family School of Education.”


Susan Schwartz Wildstrom
Susan Schwartz Wildstrom

By the time Susan Schwartz Wildstrom (AB ’69, TeachCert ’69) and Stephen H. Wildstrom (AB ’69) were seniors at U-M, he had become managing editor of the Michigan Daily. Steve went on to have a successful career as a trailblazing tech journalist, until he passed away in 2015. Susan pursued her goal of becoming a mathematics teacher, and spent the next 50 years right where she had always wanted to be: in the classroom. As soon as they “could rub two nickels together,” says Susan, they gave to U-M. With the hope of encouraging teachers to join the profession, and enjoy it for as long as she did, Susan recently established the Stephen H. and Susan Schwartz Wildstrom Endowed Scholarship Fund in Mathematics.

For the majority of her career, Susan taught in Montgomery County, Maryland. She taught all levels of high school mathematics, including rapid learner pre-calculus, calculus, and a Math Seminar in which students studied number theory, probability, combinations, and competition problem-solving. She also developed a multivariable calculus course for her school at a time when multivariable calculus was not yet being offered in most high schools. 

“My school was the first in our area to offer multivariable calculus in a neighborhood public high school that didn’t have an IB program or wasn’t a science, computer science, or math magnet school. We had to get permission from the county to do it,” recalls Susan. In her first year, she had 15 students. By the time she retired, the school offered three sections of multivariable calculus. Today, she says, nearly every high school in Montgomery County offers a multivariable calculus course.

“The one thing that was characteristic of my entire teaching career is that it was very important to me that the students got it—that they were able to be successful if they were willing to put in the effort,” says Susan. If they were stuck, she asked them where they got stuck. What did they understand? Where was the disconnect? “I was always looking for ways of telling them something I’d already said but in a different way. I always wanted to find a way that they could understand.”

This, of course, stuck with her students, many of whom are still in touch. One turned to her for help brushing up on her calculus skills as she pursued a PhD in epidemiology. Others send their own children to her for tutoring.

“I always knew this is what I wanted to do,” says Susan. And over the course of her time in the classroom, she felt like she made a difference. “I loved teaching every day of my 50 years.”


Lin C. Wong
Lin C. Wong (right)

Dr. Lin Chu Wong (AM ’80, PhD ’90) was born in New York City in 1929, the first of seven children to second- and third-generation Chinese American parents. She was raised during the Great Depression in the back of her parents' Chinese laundry, where she worked every day after school. She was the first in her family to go to college, graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Hunter College in 1950.

Wong and her husband, James P. Wong (BArch ’54) raised their children in Ann Arbor. When their eldest enrolled at the University of Michigan, she went back to school herself to earn her master’s degree from what was then the School of Education. She went on to teach for many years in diverse school settings in the Ann Arbor Public Schools district, and in 1990 earned her PhD in education. She went on to contribute her ideas to the development of multicultural elementary education in her hometown, New York City, and served on the National Education Association's Curriculum Committee in Washington, DC, where she helped write a national multicultural curriculum.

Wong has never forgotten her childhood experience of being the only Student of Color in the Queens, New York schools she attended through high school. The discrimination she faced then made her determined to dedicate her teaching career to the education of minority and underserved students and to the development of multicultural education and curriculum studies.

“My mom is a model for us all, as a beloved parent and grandparent, and as a career educator,” says her eldest son, Jonathan Wong (ABEd ’80, TeachCert ’80). “My two brothers, my sister, and I reflected on how to acknowledge her life accomplishments and impact in the field of education so we decided to honor her devotion to education in Michigan by establishing an endowed scholarship for students who want to follow in my mother’s path.”

In recognition of Wong's legacy of educating underserved students and her devotion to the University of Michigan, her children have created the Lin Chu Wong Endowed Scholarship to Promote Multicultural Education. The scholarship will be awarded each year to a University of Michigan Marsal Family School of Education undergraduate or graduate student whose studies or career aspirations are dedicated to the education of minority and underserved students.   



MORE FROM Fall 2023

The Marsal School welcomes seven scholars to our community
Angela Calabrese Barton’s research shows the impact STEM education in informal learning environments can have on communities and the world
The Indigenous Youth Education Collective is a youth participatory action research project led by—and for—Anishinaabe scholars, community members, and students
As the minor serves students across the university, minor students serve the local community
After a pandemic pause, CSHPE experiential learning trips return
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