Donor Story

Educating in Cultural Context

College of Education Alumna Supports Native American Instructional Initiatives

By Hilary Mayall Jetty

Posted February 15, 2017

Fresh out of college and full of youthful idealism, Mary Kathryn (Kay) Glantz (then Martin) found herself at the intersection of two rural Arizona roads with a challenging job. It was 1968, she was far from the UNM College of Education (COE) and her Albuquerque home, and she had to creatively apply everything she learned earning her BS degree in elementary education.

“We were in Round Rock, about a hundred miles from Window Rock,” Kay recalled. “There was only a school for kindergarten through fourth grade, a trading post, and three duplexes for housing teachers.”

Kay Glanz (then Martin) is surrounded by several of her first-grade students in Round Rock, Ariz., during the 1968-1969 school year.

Kay Glanz (then Martin) is surrounded by several of her first-grade students in Round Rock, Ariz., during the 1968-1969 school year.

Living conditions on the Navajo reservation were distinctly different from Kay’s past experiences, and technologies we now take for granted were unavailable. “We were so isolated there wasn’t even a radio station, but we sure had great bulletin boards and lesson plans,” Kay said with a laugh. “It was difficult, but it was fun.”

Only a few of Kay’s first-graders spoke English fairly well, and she was struck by the cultural gulf between instructional materials and students’ lives. All five teachers were Anglo, and their resourcefulness was constantly tested.

“We had copies of the old ‘Dick and Jane’ books, and so much of the content was meaningless to the children,” she said. “One chapter dealt with Jane learning to roller skate, holding onto two broom handles for balance. Well, none of the kids had ever seen this.”

Returning with a pair of skates and brooms after a weekend trip home, she introduced her giggling students to the novel experience of gliding on wheels, on the short strip of sidewalk outside the trading post.

Kay continued her teaching career in Albuquerque’s South Valley and the Panama Canal Zone, where she met her husband, Bob Glantz, a career U.S. Army officer. Traveling widely due to Bob’s assignments, Kay enjoyed a variety of teaching and civilian Army work along the way, and received her MA in elementary education at Western Kentucky University. Bob eventually retired from the military to work in the private sector, and the couple now enjoys retirement in Phoenix, Ariz.

All those years ago, Kay’s first position as a novice educator in unfamiliar surroundings touched her heart. Now, it is inspiring a meaningful contribution from her and Bob: a significant bequest to the COE that will create a discretionary endowment to support Native American education initiatives.

“Our 12 Native faculty members in the college work hand-in-hand with tribes, pueblos and school districts that serve Native Americans,” noted College of Education Dean Hector Ochoa. “This thoughtful and generous gift from Kay and Bob Glantz is a transformational investment in this essential work.”

An estate gift is a powerful tribute to the future. Kay and Bob’s legacy will enrich classrooms full of children through initiatives that may include language and cultural preservation, increasing the number of Native PhD students, and training Native teachers to rise into positions such as principals and superintendents.

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