Dr. Martha Mead does not just believe in life-long learning. She preached it, promoted it and practiced it during her 31-year career at Northside.
Dr. Mead joined Northside in 1968 and spent the first half of her tenure - 16 years - with the District as a counselor at John Jay High School. There she had an open-door policy and was known for the great care she took with letters of recommendation in order to afford each student with the opportunity for acceptance at the university of his/her choice, as well as a chance at scholarships to help defray the cost of higher education.
Dr. Mead began her own education as the salutatorian of Odessa High School in 1951. She went on to receive a Bachelor's Degree in English and Elementary and Secondary Education from Baylor University in 1954, and in 1967 a Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Colorado State University. She received a doctorate in Adult and Community Education from Texas A&M University in 1981, and two years later she became Northside's first director of Adult and Community Education which was then a fledgling program that offered just a handful of classes.
As director, she established numerous programs that reached out to students and community members most in need of support. She started what is now the Northside Excel Academy, a high school drop-out recovery program, in a shopping mall so that students could attend classes any time of the day. She also developed after-school, summer youth and family literacy programs, as well as services for pregnant teens and teen parents.
Under her leadership, NISD's Adult and Community Education program grew to offer more than 500 classes in 25 categories. Northside now has one of the largest Adult and Community Education programs in the state and serves more than 25,000 people every year.
Just before she retired in 1999, Dr. Mead received the Berridge Award, one of the most prestigious honors given by the Texas Community Education Association. The award is given only occasionally when a person has developed and implemented innovative community education programs.
Even in retirement, Dr. Mead's community service has not ended. She tutors students, volunteers in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and GED testing centers, and rocks babies for the School Age Parenting Program, for which she once helped secure funds.
Dr. Mead has been married to her husband, Donald, for more than 50 years. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Background information and photos provided by NISD Communications Dept., November 4, 2006.