Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Women's History Salute to Colorado Adult Educator Lucy Stromquist

I met Lucy Stromquist, somewhere in the early 21st century, when she was one of the long-time trainers for CASAS literacy certification. I was in awe of this woman who so exhibited the traits of Master Teacher. A few years later, faced with developing online courses to meet the needs of Adult Educator Certifications in Colorado, I was struggling with how to group the needed competencies into courses and related instructional activities and assessments.

 I called Lucy and asked if I could pay her a visit. Beyond the opportunity to tap her extraordinary expertise, I was secretly hoping she would agree to co-develop the courses. We agreed to meet at the St. Vrain Literacy Center on a holiday weekend in Loveland Colorado. The snow part of winter had set in, so I had dressed accordingly with a winter-weight coat and snow boots, and luckily so. The center’s heat had been turned off for the weekend. Lucy and I seemed to have similar histories—I had been raised in the north and she was a hearty rural professional. So when we both showed up at the cold building, we were dressed to meet. She put on coffee and brought out a tin of cookies. Fully dressed in our outerwear, we waded through our histories and the competencies. Those discussions made clear two points: We were sisters in the trenches and traditions of adult education, and I was able to see how the competencies should be sequenced.

Most fascinating, was hearing about Lucy’s rise to leadership. Prior to Pearl Harbor, she’d applied for medical school. To my astonishment and sense of irony, one of the questions asked of her during her interview was whether she had a serious boyfriend. When she replied yes, the counter was, “How can you expect him to wait so long for this part of your education?”

Lucy followed this part of the account with, “And then Pearl Harbor happened.” So her beau went off to war, and she was invited to be one of the women trained to operate airplane production factories in Kansas.  The women were in classes or working 6 days per week, and received training that areonautical engineers might have, or at least to the production level.

So Lucy served and developed, and when the war was over, married her beau and had her family. And then was invited to finish her 4 year and grad degrees.  And
Followed by establishing the Ft. Vrain literacy center and serving on CASAS, a competency-based national literacy initiative.

At the end of the day, in her 82nd year, she declined to be my co-developer. But she agreed to review the courses. And affirmed that she wished she had had these courses when she began her career as an adult educator.

I executed many searches to develop this tribute to her. I could find so little.

Leecy Wise, and others, if you can add or correct my account, will you?

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