Martha Lue Stewart
What is your current job title and responsibilities?
Professor of Urban, Multicultural, & Exceptional Education
Program Area Coordinator, Exceptional Education, Child, Family, and Community Sciences
College of Education & Human Performance
Coordinator, Graduate Certificate in Urban Education
Chair, Faculty Council, College of Education & Human Performance
Co-Convener, Urban Initiatives, Special Interest Group
What is your history at UCF? (Past job titles, responsibilities)
University of Central Florida: 1989-Current
Visiting Professor, Associate Professor, Professor
Child, Family, & Community Sciences; Educational Studies, College of Education, University of Central Florida, Orlando
Program Coordinator, Exceptional Education
Faculty Liaison, Department of Educational Studies
Program Coordinator, Graduate Certificate Program in Urban Education
Co-Leader, Domestic Diversity Forum, College of Education
Course Leader: Multicultural & Urban Education
What is your favorite UCF memory?
Naming of the Student Center in honor of the late Dr. John T. Washington; Co-writing with Janet Balanoff, the first McKnight Grant; Serving as a part of the Black Faculty & Staff Association as they launched the first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration; Achieving the rank of Professor, the first African American female to achieve the rank in the history of the university.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
Would really make an effort to bring “town and gown” closer. While UCF has advanced in its efforts to become more inclusive and diverse, there is still room for more. I applaud Dr. Hitt’s Top 10 Knights initiative that promises admission to the University of Central Florida to high-school students in the top 10 percent of their class. That is huge!
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Dream as if your entire life depended on it! It was Sir Isaac Newton who reminded us, “If I have seen farther than others, it’s because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants.”
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
My favorite foods are the ones prepared for me almost daily by my wonderful, compassionate, and considerate retired husband. The second would be the ones prepared by my wonderful, kind, thoughtful, and precious older sister who is living with us for a season.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
An Endowed Chair in Urban, Multicultural, and Urban Education because of my work and interest in those areas.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
I love history. I would love to sit with the Founders of the University to learn about the pre-FTU days, including the demographics of the community.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
Those who have come before-namely Dr. Margaret Miller & Dr. John Washington, faculty trailblazers, and Dr. Levester Tubbs, an administrator and one who helped to make my success possible. I wish to thank all of my colleagues and our Deans in the College of Education & Human Performance who always made the College a feeling of home, and set high expectations that helped me to realize my dreams of achieving the rank of Professor. To my exceptional colleagues in the Exceptional Education program area, including the Chairs, who continue to inspire me, to encourage me, and to help me to believe that all things are possible. To Dr. Ida Cook, Dr. Cheryl Green, Robert Bell, and Valerie King, who always worked so hard to make UCF an inclusive and diverse place for all. To the Black Faculty and Staff Association, there is no other group on campus that measures up to the tenacity, perseverance, resilience, support, and care that this group offers its members and all students-but specifically, students of color. Retired colleagues such as Dr. Marcy Kysilka, Dr. Mary Palmer and the late Dr. Nanette McClain served as both mentors and advocates on my behalf. Finally, my purpose for being here: to the students who continue to engage, intrigue, and to push me to be the best Professor that I can be.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
That teacher/researcher is Septima Clark. Ms. Clark spent many years traveling and teaching in the Promise Land School on Johns Island, South Carolina, for $25 a month—a traveling scholar in a true sense of the word. And although I could never be a Septima Clark, I can be the best Martha Scott Lue Stewart that I can. I can try to give back to this community, my adopted community, Central Florida, so much that was given to me in the small town of my birth, Monticello, Florida-an insatiable desire to read, to explore, and to be and do the best that I could. For all of the children in similar communities, I honor that commitment.
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
Nearly six years ago in a graduate course in Multicultural Education, a student penned this essay (selected) and she titled it:
The Joy of a New Box of Crayons
Incorporated within the public school system is the right for every child to have access to an equal education. This broad concept holds within it numerous smaller challenges which must be set in order to accomplish this goal. My topic focuses on one of those smallest challenges within the wider scope-the challenge of ensuring that all students are provided the same resources in the classroom and in the home setting in order to accomplish their academic tasks to their fullest potential.
Many students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds do not have these same resources in the home or community world. Conversely, they may lack books for both recreational reading and research purposes. Not having available transportation to the library to seek these tools. Even the smallest of supplies such as a box of crayons, pencils, pencil sharpener, paper, ruler, markers, etc., could be nonexistent.
We must ensure that all students are not further disadvantaged in their scholastic efforts because of the inability to obtain basic materials. We must protect and raise the self-esteem of our students who are unable through no fault of their own to add the many aesthetically pleasing extras to work created outside of the classroom environment.