Dr. Martha Mead didn't 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 with the District as a counselor at Jay High School. There, she had an open-door policy and was known for the great care she took with letters of recommendation so that students had every opportunity of getting a scholarship or into the university of their choice.
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, 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 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, Adult and Community Education 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 Dr. Mead retired in 1999, she 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 didn't end. She tutored students, volunteered in the ESL/GED testing centers, and rocked babies for the School Age Parenting Program, which she once helped secure funds for.
Dr. Mead, who passed away Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, was married to her husband, Donald, for more than 50 years. They had two daughters and three grandchildren.