Special Collections Oral History Program
Theodore A. Mork
Professor Emeritus of Educational Curriculum and Instruction
Campus School teacher, 1964-1967
Interviewer: Tamara Belts
Date of Interview: October 11, 2005
Location of Interview: Special Collections, WWU Libraries
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This interview was conducted with Ted Mork in Special Collections, Western Washington University Libraries, Bellingham, Washington, on October 11th, 2005. The interviewer is Tamara Belts.
TB: Today is Tuesday October 11th, 2005 and I am here with Dr. Ted Mork, who was a long time faculty member at Western who also taught at the Campus School. Our focus today is on the Campus School Memories Project and his memories of Campus School. Our first question is how did you come to teach at Campus School?
TM: I had applied for a graduate assistantship for a master’s program following my first year of teaching. I got a phone call from Frances Hanson asking if I would consider coming and teaching in the Campus School. I would be teaching full-time, mainly reading and language arts, and could do my master’s degree work nights and summers. I accepted the invitation.
TB: What grade did you first teach there then?
TM: My assignment was the language arts program, grades three, four, five and six.
TB: O.K. Tell me a little more about that. I guess I assumed that there was a master teacher that did a whole class almost like the regular public schools did and it sounds like maybe you had a concentration.
TM: We had a semi-departmentalized program for grades three, four, five, and six. I was assigned fourth grade homeroom and fourth grade social studies and my main responsibility was language arts, along with Les Crawford. We had someone else teaching the math and science, then the other specialists as well.
TB: What were the years then that you taught at Campus School?
TM: I started in the fall of 1964 and ended in the spring of 1967 with the closing down of Campus School. When I came in, I came in understanding that I would be there for three years and I would be part of the team that would close the school.
TB: Do you know how it was decided that they were going to close down the Campus School, that process that led to that, or was that before?
TM: No. All of that took place before I got there. I do know there was a real crunch then for classroom space for college students and for faculty office space.
TB: O.K. But they did have a long range plan they made, kind of a three year process by which they were going to end it.
TM: Right. I think it was a matter of phasing it out somewhat. After that first year we no longer had sixth-grade. We went through five. The other grades stayed until 1967.
TB: Did any other family members attend or teach at Campus School?
TM: Just my wife. She student taught at Campus School with Charlie Miller in fourth-grade. It would have been in 1962.
TB: Do you remember any stories that she had about what it was like to student teach in the Campus School? Anything that might be different than what you thought?
TM: I remember her talking about some of the advantages and disadvantages of being one of three student-teachers in a room. They could share and compare their experiences and do some planning together. One of the disadvantages was that when it came to their full-time teaching, they were limited to one week each, instead of two or three weeks experienced by students in a more usual student teaching situation.
TB: Can you describe a typical school day, the morning routine, and the afternoon routine?
TM: We’re going back about forty years now, remember! I think what happened is we just opened the day with our homeroom children and started right in with our subject area for those students. Then at some agreed upon time, children moved to other teachers. All of us homeroom teachers would have been teaching social studies to our homeroom group at the same time of day.
TB: So you stayed in your room and the children moved.
TM: Right. A little bit more of a junior high aged concept at that time in term of children moving from teacher to teacher.
TB: Can you describe the typical school week? I think there were special assemblies, music programs, physical education programs. Did you get some kind of preparation time then while they were off at PE?
TM: Art, P.E. and Music were included in our overall weekly schedules. Planning periods were included in our individual teacher’s schedules, most likely when our homeroom children were in P.E., Art or Music.
TB: Describe the extracurricular activities or playtimes that the children had: recesses, lunch hour, anything that you remember that was big with the kids?
TM: Just that they existed. Kids went out to play. I don’t remember what the supervision was of that. I remember being outside with kids part of the time but I don’t know if that was a supervisory responsibility I had or if I was just out with the kids at my own choice. I’m sure that assemblies or “special” events would have been built into our weekly schedules.
TB: Where did you eat? Did you eat in the room?
TM: We must have just eaten in the room. It must have just been a brown bag lunch kind of thing. It seems like there was kind of a kitchen area across the hall on that second floor. I can’t really remember that there was an eating area. I think the faculty must have been eating in their own rooms as well.
TB: That was actually another question I was going to ask. Was there a teachers’ lounge or any place where the teachers could get together?
TM: We did have teachers’ meetings, and I can’t remember if they were in one of the classrooms. I know that down the hall there was the fireplace room but I think that the psychology department had that at the time. My memory is really faded on that one.
TB: What do you remember about the curriculum, the grading system, student motivation, any team teaching or lots of team teaching?
TM: There was lots of team teaching within the language arts, teaming in that there were normally two of us who were responsible for the instruction that was going on, plus the student-teachers. Anytime you have the student-teachers incorporated then you have additional teaming. There was an overall plan. For example, in the language arts we had some grouping of children and some basal reading instruction, a good deal of emphasis on silent reading, kids practicing silent reading by themselves as well as sometimes kids practicing oral reading to one another. Of course, those things are not very different from many things that are going on in the public schools today.
TB: But were they different back at that time?
TM: They were different then because we were not nearly so tied to a basal reader program. We really emphasized a much greater connection between reading and writing at the time, so that kids were writing a lot. We would be providing a stimulus for writing, leading to discussion. A stimulus might be reading aloud to them or it might have been a film we had watched or some other experience we’d had together. The discussion that followed would explore the information or an idea that was presented. We wanted children to express their understandings and their thoughts. We’d also be thinking about the language we were using to express those thoughts and ideas. Sometimes the main focus would be on using a particular type of language, so we’d be practicing that language as we explored the information or ideas.
If we were examining a piece of literature, we might use a variety of questions to help children think about how an author achieves his or her purpose. For example, we might use questions like the following: How do you feel about this character? Why do you like (dislike) this character? How did the author make you feel that way? What did the author have that character say or do that made you feel that way? These are questions that could be asked in relation to a basal reader story, too, but they weren’t normally included in basal reader teachers’ guides.
After a pretty thorough discussion of those things, the children would have the responsibility for writing, putting their thoughts down on paper. Frequently, children would share their writings with the class, and that would lead to more discussion. The intention was always to get children talking about ideas, and then writing.
TB: One thing that has come out in terms of what students remember a lot is the special activities. Also it sounded almost like each quarter there may have been some kind of overriding theme or unit. How did that get decided? What the themes were going to be? And then did that permeate everything, not just the books that they read but also the artwork they did?
TM: I don’t remember that that happened a lot, but it certainly could have. It may have happened more in the days of self-contained classrooms. Certainly in the area of language arts, there were times when we centered on a theme. For example, in those days, Halloween was a big topic in schools, and in October, we read and wrote about it intensely. We read and studied factual information, poetry, chants, etc. We talked about it and we wrote about it, and it continued for the whole month. I don’t recall if any of this was carried over into other subject areas. Obviously, the math problems could certainly have been Halloween related, etc.
TB: Did you have any sense at the time that you started teaching at the Campus School that the curriculum had changed, or was changing? That because the school was closing down there needed to be some accommodation as to what the children would soon be experiencing in the public school?
TM: All I can do is guess about that. But like I said, very likely that thematic kind of thing would have been part of a situation where a teacher had the children for all subject areas. Then you could easily coordinate all of those things. I think that’s probably where it was happening. My guess is that thematic teaching might very well have been happening right up until 1964 when they brought in basically a whole new faculty to close down Campus School. It wasn’t total; Synva Nicol and Katharine Casanova were still the teachers in Kindergarten and first-grade who had been there for many years. Mary Irvin was the second-grade teacher during that time. Karen Olson came in the year after I did, third-grade. Les Crawford was there for just one year. Takasaki was there for one year. Takasaki I think did come in to teach either the math or science and I’m trying to remember now if Mike Murphy came in at the beginning with me. I think he did. He must have been teaching science and Jerry Takasaki must have been teaching the math.
TB: Did you always have student-teachers in observing or sharing in your classroom, teaching? Can you describe what that was like?
TM: Each of us had two student-teachers each quarter. In addition, we frequently had classes of college students observing. We also had some college students who just wandered in occasionally to watch what was going on. It would not be at all uncommon
for me to get a call from Evelyn Odom saying, “Ted, this is where we are, this is what we’re studying;” (“we” being a college class teaching English in the elementary school). “I wonder if you would do a lesson demonstrating [whatever it might be].” So I would prepare lessons specifically geared in the direction she would like and we would talk about what she wanted. She and the students would come over and they would watch while I went through the lesson with the kids. Then the students would, in most cases, be taken over by a student-teacher or by someone else and then I would talk with the college class about what they had seen and answer questions, explain the kinds of things I was aiming toward, pointing out certain responses from children, helping them to see some things they might have missed.
TB: Was that at all intimidating to you? You were kind of a new teacher yourself.
TM: I was a young teacher, but no, it wasn’t. I don’t know why. I felt confident about what I was doing. I don’t know if that speaks mostly about the preparation that I’d had myself or if it spoke as much as anything to the success I’d had in my first year of teaching. I suspect it was a combination of all of that. I’m sure that I was very nervous the first couple of times that I did that. I would have to be, having the college professor there watching and having 25 or so students watching everything that we’re doing. But I guess I had enough of a level of confidence, maybe even cockiness, I don’t know, a willingness to take a risk when you are in front of a group of kids and college students because you never know for sure how kids are going to respond. You never know exactly where they are going to go. I think one of the things that was particularly important in that was my attitude toward children and the importance of their thinking, because when I asked them a question I expected their best thinking. Then all of the class knew that I might ask one of the others to respond to that thought. “What do you think about what he just said?” That was one of the things that I might have been demonstrating at any one time with this class. Well, having a good understanding of where I was going with that helped a lot to feel okay about where we were headed and to be there in front of all those people.
TB: Wow. Did the kids behave pretty well when you had a lot of people observing?
TM: With me they did. I can’t remember a time when there was any kind of problem behaviorally. You know, the usual chatter when they’re not supposed to and things of that sort. But I think that we had generally worked through what our goals were and what we were trying to do and the importance of learning and the importance of their participating and being part of it so that for the most part, I didn’t experience a lot of struggling with children. We didn’t have to have power struggles. Occasionally I had to talk privately with a student and help him or her understand that certain kinds of behaviors simply wouldn’t be tolerated, but on the whole that wasn’t a problem.
TB: Did you have any sense that in a way you did have children that were sort of like cream of the crop in terms of Bellingham, that they were children of parents that were probably really supportive of the school system, or was that not true by the time you got there?
TM: You know, I can’t remember ever paying much attention to what homes the kids came from. I had student-taught at Lowell School only a couple of years earlier, and I don’t remember that the make-up of the Campus School classes were terribly different from Lowell, or for that matter, from my experience in Bellevue. I do know that quite a few of the children were from non-faculty families.
TB: Do you remember any of your student-teachers or favorite students or have you kept in contact with any of them?
TM: Only two people come to mind. Doris Werner, a student-teacher, and Jane Rowe, an office assistant, were two who became classroom teachers in Bellingham, and with whom I had contact over the years. You can see how the development of a close, on-going relationship with a student-teacher wasn’t particularly likely, given two student-teachers per quarter, for three quarters a year.
TB: It’s kind of the opposite side; you have students remembering who their favorite teachers were, but that’s a lot to ask of a teacher.
TM: There are several children that I remember well, too many of them to identify here. Remember that those children with me in fourth grade my first year were with me for language arts again the following year.
TB: This was probably kind of answered by that you were more specialized by then, but what were your favorite subjects or classroom activities to teach?
TM: Mine was always related to children’s literature; leading children into writing and then having them present in some way what they were reading, what they had written, the work that they were doing. My whole attitude was to immerse children in language, immerse them in literature, immerse them in the writing process, have them doing a lot of writing, have them read for as much as half an hour of just sustained silent reading, doing nothing else. Then, following that would always be a sharing period. Those who wanted to share something of what they had just read. Of course, if they said something about the character and they made a value judgment about the character, then my question always was along the line of how did the author cause you to feel that way? How did the author cause you to think that way? What did the author do? Those same questions would be asked of children who had just had something read to them that was written by one of the [other] children. How did Joannie get you to think that way? How did Joannie cause you to really like that character? What did she have the character do? What did she have the character say? Always looking at how the author gets an audience to respond? Now you’re the author; what do you do in your writing to get someone to respond the way you want them to? Fairly sophisticated kinds of things that kids were being asked to do.
TB: Did you take your students to visit the college much? The college library, attend assemblies and sporting events?
TB: Did you have your own library over there?
TM: Yes, there was a library on the main floor of Campus School. At some point, it was moved to Wilson Library, but I am not sure just when that happened.
TB: I think that’s a change then somewhere that happened. What were some of the differences that you perceived from the public schools?
TM: I think the main thing for me was to have the freedom to go the direction that we wanted to go. There wasn’t the restriction and there wasn’t the expectation (in reading and language arts) that we had to be adhering strictly to a basic basal program that was someone else’s program just laid on the children. Instead we had much more latitude to choose the reading materials we used and to incorporate the reading and the writing together whereas at that time, the most common way of teaching reading was in three reading groups and basal readers. We grouped children but for the most part, our grouping was fairly short-term. Although we were using basal readers as part of the program, we tried not to just have the children grouped at the beginning of the year and then stay in that same group all the way through. There were other reading and language arts activities going on in relation to something called individualized reading program. That was a program where we really based most of the reading instruction on the books that children were reading – their own books, their library books, rather than a basic textbook. That was probably one of the biggest differences; the latitude that we had in choice of curriculum. We were aware of what the Bellingham School District curriculum was and their objectives. We were aiming toward those same objectives; it’s just that we were doing it in a somewhat different way.
TB: Wasn’t Campus School really another part of Bellingham Public Schools?
TM: I believe the per-pupil funding might have been handled as though we were part of the Bellingham School District but I really don’t know very much about that.
TB: So there wasn’t really tuition or anything for students?
TM: That’s my understanding.
TB: What were the transition issues that the Campus School teachers tried to be aware of in preparing their students for public schools?
TM: The people who had the homeroom children in grade six, when that was the last grade and grade five when that was last grade took most of the responsibility for that. I taught those children in reading and language arts, but I didn’t have the responsibility as their homeroom teacher for that kind of thing so I don’t have a very good answer to your question. I can tell you that from a philosophical standpoint, all of us during those three years were asking children to make good decisions. We would talk part of the time about human relations issues. How do you get along with the person that you are not so happy to be sitting next to? How do you deal with issues like that? I think several of us worked at helping children to think about their responsibility as a citizen within a school, responsibility for themselves, responsibility to others. How do we function in a group of 20 or 25 or 30 people? How do we learn to get along with one another when we have a disagreement? How do we deal with that? Let’s practice that. Let’s talk about that. I know that Mr. Murphy did that quite a lot and I was doing it with my kids.
You can’t help but have conflicts among children. When those came up, they were always viewed as teaching opportunities. Seldom just the concern about punishment, but rather how do we deal with this? How do we help this kid grow? There were times when we had to involve parents in relation to issues like that, but not very many that I recall. For my part, it was more that attitudinal kind of thing in helping kids grow and deal with unusual situations. How do you adjust to situations where you are uncertain? That’s in a very general sense. Well then the fifth-grade teachers, when that was the class or the sixth-grade teachers were helping kids to make a more direct application: what’s it going to be like going into middle school? They took them over to the schools that they would be going to. I don’t recall how much was done. I do recall talking about that as we came toward the end in closing the school, how do we help these kids in third-grade and fourth-grade and fifth-grade - all classes - adjust into the public schools. Of course, the other part of this equation would be the children’s new classroom teacher.
TB: What about the grading? What was the grading system like when you were there?
TM: We did not use letter grades. We were using anecdotal records trying to help parents understand where their kids were in a way that was not grade related. One of the most interesting things about that is that the kids, because they had kind of grown up without grades got along just fine with a description of what they could do and what they couldn’t do and what skill they were working on. Parents were the ones who had the hardest time with the lack of letter grades because they had come through a different system themselves so they could relate to grades and would frequently ask, “Well if you had to put a grade on that, what grade would it be?” There was always that push because that would help them in their thinking to understand how their child compared with other children.
TB: Did you feel like you got the most out of students? Some of the students have reported that when they went to the public schools it was kind of a [shock], they had to get these grades. I got the sense that they could have done better in Campus School maybe but they had learned [how to get by]. Was that unusual?
TM: That’s a hard one to know. First off, the response of students now might be flavored a good deal by their experiences with grades since then. I think what Campus School tried to do, and my sense is that this applies to the time before I got there, as well as while I was there, was to involve kids in a way that learning was somehow kind of fun. Not fun in the rollicking, frolicking kind of fun, but satisfying; feeling like you were learning, feeling like you were growing. That should be our overriding goal all the time; not to get As and Bs, but to feel like you’re really learning. I had a sense for quite a lot of kids that that’s why they were doing what they were doing, that they were kind of getting there.
For some kids I think, things like grades help to spur them on. Fear of getting a C or a D or an F or wanting to get that A. The more we use the grades, the more kids go for those grades; whether they would have worked harder in Campus School for a grade, that’s a tough one to know. Any given child might have worked harder for a different given teacher because that teacher may have spurred a whole bunch of interest in them. Another teacher may have held this grade out and said, “Get this grade, and I’m not giving very many of them,” and that makes it more valuable so then kids work toward that. The grade almost becomes an extrinsic kind of reward compared to feeling like you’re really learning and gathering information and wanting to do it. There’d be a lot of that contrast and the hard part in what we’re trying to do here is to nail it down and say this was Campus School and this is public school.
There were some teachers in public school who just knew how to get a lot out of kids; not because of grades but because they just involved kids. People say that about teachers in public school, “That was the teacher that I had when I began to really value learning.” Another one says, “I really learned from that teacher. I had to because I wanted to get an A so badly.” Where do the extrinsic rewards come in? Where does it become intrinsic? I think that Campus School was aiming toward establishing both intrinsic rewards, which work for some, maybe for most; they don’t work for everybody, and then trying to find something else that worked for those children when other things weren’t working.
TB: What was your relationship with the other faculty? Did you have regular faculty meetings? Did these include student-teachers?
TM: I can’t remember now how often we had meetings as a whole faculty. I do know that there was quite a lot of contact among the teachers on the second floor. The language arts teachers were planning together every day. I also was communicating very regularly with Mike Murphy, the math and science teacher across the hall. This leads me to think about some of the other faculty who were there for shorter periods. Linnea Lilja and Les Crawford were both involved with the language arts program the first year. I’m not exactly sure when they left.
TB: I might be able to find it out from the school directory because it’s not in the annuals anymore.
TM: Some place in the archives there probably would be official records of when people were hired. What you need then is the names: Crawford, Lilja, Olson, Milt Towne. There were differences in administration as well, starting out with Frances Hanson as the principal. Milt Town was her assistant. I think Frances was still teaching courses at the same time, as a faculty member in the Psychology Department.
TB: Was Ray Hawke still around then?
TM: No, he was gone. Long gone, I think.
TB: And Bearnice Skeen?
TM: Frances Hanson was the director our first year and then Bearnice Skeen came in either at the beginning of or (as it was) during that second year. She was the principal for the remainder of the time.
TB: One thing I’m curious about is, a lot of you, and there could be very different reasons for all of this, but a lot of you that did teach at Campus School later went on to have faculty positions at the university.
TM: George Lamb, Stewart Van Wingerden, for example.
TB: Right. Are these all just very individual stories of how that happened?
TM: Absolutely. Each one is individual. I think that George and Stewart might have overlapped in their tenure there, I’m not sure.
TB: Irwin Hammer, was he around when you were?
TM: I knew him but not in relation to my teaching in Campus School.
TB: I was just fascinated with all those names. I didn’t know if the university made a way to use them after they closed down the Campus School or they just all had the same…
TM: No, no, no. I don’t know for how long Stewart taught in the Campus School, and I don’t know what the history was. I can’t remember if we ever talked about that; how he got into Campus School, how long he was there and what he did afterward. I just know that he was there and George Lamb was there for a period of time. Al Nichelson came over during the time I was there and did quite a bit of science with Kindergarteners. I don’t remember his doing anything at higher levels. Mike Murphy was the science teacher who was somewhat in tune with Nichelson philosophically and very much into the process of science. It’s interesting to think about the people who had been there. Stewart and George were not involved during the ’64-’67 period that I was there.
TB: They were there earlier.
TB: Any other favorite memories of your Campus School teaching days?
TM: The main memory that I like is of the kinds of writing that kids did as a result of being expected to write. They wrote a lot and many of them got very good at writing because they wrote a lot. From whatever point they started – and some of them were very good to start with when I met them and some of them were not – they grew a lot because of their increasing knowledge of language and writing. One of the things we used was a writing journal. Kids always, when they came into language arts, looked up at the board and knew whether they were going to have SSR (sustained silent reading) or SSW (sustained silent writing). They came in, they looked up there, and it said either SSR or SSW. If it said SSW, there were certain children (I don’t know if they were in rows at the time or how they were arranged) knew it was their responsibility to grab the journals which were on the counter, and pass those journals out, and each one got his or her journal and started writing. It might be a ten minute writing period or a fifteen minute writing period, writing about anything they wanted to write. When they finished writing, they had the option of putting at the top of that page “Please read,” “Don’t read” or “Your choice.” Some of it I read and some of it I didn’t. I read all of it if it said, “Please read.” If it said, “Don’t read,” I might have sneaked a peek, but just ignored it because I had enough other things to do. If it said “Your choice,” I tried to dip into just a little of it anyway.
I do recall one time when Mr. Murphy had had a real disagreement with the fifth graders, and I don’t know what it was. They thought he had been terribly unfair. But he had made a decision. These fifth-graders came across the hall to my class just mad as hops and I could tell it! The level of energy was just so high! They were so angry. I quickly went up and changed SSR to SSW. What would I do? I would have been in trouble trying to calm them down! So they sat down and wrote. When I got through to the end of that, and I don’t know if it was the end of the day or just right away, I went through these things probably after they left. Over and over again, those who wrote about Mr. Murphy and many of them did, said at the top, “Please read.” A couple of them said, “And then have Mr. Murphy read.” That was an attitude about the way children’s writing and their thinking was valued in my teaching. There was a trust level there. They got to the point where they seldom said, “Don’t read.” My recollection is that that kind of just went away and we didn’t have many kids saying “Don’t read.” Some of them would say “You probably don’t want to bother” or “You can read this if you want to.” But there was a trust level there that said “It’s O.K. for you to read this because I trust you, and it’s O.K. for Mr. Murphy to read this because I trust him -- even though I’m angry at him, I still trust him.” That attitude; that was one of the neat little stories I remember.
TB: Oh wow. Anything else related to the Campus School that I haven’t asked you that you would like to comment on? Also, do you have any suggestions of other questions to ask if we are asking other teachers?
TM: Oh, there’s another thing I want to tell you about (and it seems like I’m just rambling a lot now in a stream of consciousness here). That was the fact that after my first year, I started teaching a college class in the morning. I don’t remember if I did that for two years or if it was just the last year that we were there. I was teaching a reading class, The Teaching of Reading, before I started with the children. The college students had the responsibility for observing me teaching reading and not coming in on a scheduled basis necessarily, but just being there and watching the teaching of reading taking place. They had a minimum number of hours required. That had to take place within I suppose the first six weeks because sometime during the last four weeks, they were required to come in and teach reading. We’d give them a group of children for them to work with. That was probably the nicest situation that I would ever have for matching college students with children, because I was controlling schedules for both. Beyond that, microteaching (that was the name we gave it) began to pick up a lot of steam then and people were going to the public schools to do that. I was able to do it right there with my own kids, which was very helpful.
TB: Anything else I missed?
TM: Maybe after going away and thinking about it, I might have other suggestions.
Part II – Alumni Questionnaire
TB: Well if you don’t mind though, I would like to ask you the questions we ask the Golden Vikings. We always gather their story when they come back for their fiftieth reunion. You came here in 1964 and were teaching at the Campus School. Is that when you started to work on your masters, while you were also teaching at the Campus School?
TM: I completed my masters during those first two years. I completed my masters in ’66. That tells me that it must have been ’66-’67, the last year, that I was hired to teach reading courses. One course a quarter at 8 o’clock in the morning so that I would be pretty well through with that when my responsibilities to the children started up.
TB: O.K. Now backtrack to why you first chose to attend Western as an undergraduate.
TM: Local; I was from Ferndale and Bellingham. I graduated from Bellingham High School in 1956. I spent two years at the Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle at that time thinking that I probably would become a Lutheran minister. While I had a scholarship to PLU, it wasn’t anywhere near enough to let me get through PLU. I was going to have to work my way through. Western was a good choice because it had a top-quality education program, it was close enough that I could be near home, although I did not live at home, and I could work my way through.
TB: What were your dates of attendance at Western?
TM: 1958 to 1963. I was working for Haggen during part of my undergraduate years. In fact, I was in the grocery business through high school and through college. I worked as much as thirty hours a week while I was going to school. It took me five years to finish my program; my wife did hers in four.
TB: Were you at what’s now the Meridian Street store, except it was then an older store?
TM: Yes, when they had just one store. I was a produce clerk, checker, journeyman clerk, so I was drawing the top pay of the checkers as a kid going to school. I was also their Sunday manager during student teaching. I would open the store, be in charge all day, and close the store at night. They paid double time for Sundays. During my student teaching I cut my work back so that I just worked Sundays and got two days pay for one day’s work. We have a requirement in student teaching here at Western, we always have had, that you don’t work during student teaching. Except that some people don’t have an option. I was able to cut it back to one day. I don’t know if you know, there’s a Ted and Jean Mork Scholarship now for elementary education. That scholarship is aimed at that group of people who need to work in order to stay in school but they need not to work during student teaching in order to do the best job of student teaching and therefore likely to be more successful and therefore be successful in getting a job. That’s the population that our scholarship is aimed towards.
TB: Nice. What degrees or certificates did you receive from Western?
TM: BA in education, with an English major and psychology minor, and the elementary education program.
TB: And then you got your masters?
TM: And then my masters degree, which is an MED, in reading.
TB: And then what other degrees, etc., if any, did you receive elsewhere?
TM: When I left here I went to Port Orchard as a reading specialist with the intention of being there at least two years and setting up a reading program for Marcus Whitman Junior High. During that first year, toward the end of it, I got an invitation to teach at the University of Victoria to teach language arts methods, the same kind of thing I’d been doing here, and supervise student-teachers. I went up there and looked at that and said yes, this looks like something I’d like to do. I cut my stay at Port Orchard short by a year and went up there for that one year and then decided on a doctoral program at Syracuse University. That’s where I got my PhD.
TB: Why did you go to Syracuse?
TM: Two reasons: It was recognized as one of the very best in the nation in the area of reading and language arts. Secondly, they paid me the most to go to school.
TM: Yes. It was an Education Professional Development Act (EPDA) fellowship program.
TB: Oh, that’s kind of a fallout from Sputnik isn’t it?
TM: I don’t know if it was Sputnik but there were professional development programs like that. This particular one focused on early language development and that’s how I got more into the language arts along with the reading.
TB: Have any other family members attended Western? Your wife must have.
TM: My wife did. She had a BA in education from Western in 1962. One younger brother, Jim Mork attended Western for a while.
TB: What was your first job after leaving Western?
TM: I taught in Bellevue.
TB: Just one year?
TM: Yes; a fourth/fifth combination. I tried my darndest to get out of that! I used all the negotiating skills I thought I had! The principal wanted me to teach the fourth and fifth grade. I said, “Look, why?” I said, “You’ve got teachers in your building who have taught for years in fourth-grade and fifth-grade. I’ve talked with them, I know you have. They could so much more easily teach a fourth and fifth combination. Why don’t you just give me a regular fourth or a regular fifth?” He said, “You’re absolutely right, Ted. I know my teachers, and that’s why I want you teaching the fourth/fifth combination.” I ended up teaching a fourth/fifth combination and it turned out to be a great year.
TB: O.K. Please also share information about your subsequent career.
TM: When I finished my doctorate in 1971 at Syracuse, I was interviewing at the University of Vermont and at Oregon College of Education at Monmouth and seriously considering both of those. We had basically drawn a line down the Rocky Mountains and said anything on the West Side would be O.K. We were eager to get back to this part of the country. I got a phone call from Bob McCracken, who was the director of the reading center and elementary education. I guess he wasn’t elementary then, he was just director of the reading center. They had just had a resignation and he wanted to know if I would be willing to be considered for the position. I said to him, I thought it probably was too soon to come back to Western after having been there and then left. He persuaded me that that was not the case. The kinds of experiences that I had had since I left Western would be just fine for coming back as early as that. I decided that was not a bad idea then, so I applied for the job and got it.
TB: Excellent. What year was that?
TM: That was fall of 1971 when I started back at Western. I had been teaching summer session for Western each summer from 1967 until 1969 when I left and went to Syracuse. They already had a track record of my teaching college classes that full year in 1967 in the mornings, and then summers after that.
At Western, I taught in the undergraduate and graduate programs in Elementary Education and Reading, teaching courses in Elementary Education, the Teaching of Reading and Language Arts. My duties over the years included student teaching supervision as well as various administrative positions.
TB: O.K. Now let’s come back and finish your undergraduate time. Where did you live? At home, in a dorm, with a local family?
TM: I lived with a local woman whose son was away at college at PLU, a friend of mine.
TB: O.K. Any favorite memories of that experience?
TM: It was just a good situation. Mrs. Knutzen provided my breakfast and packed a lunch and did my laundry and I paid her some fee, I don’t know how much. I was on my own for dinner, which I sometimes ate at Western and sometimes ate elsewhere. It was nice living close enough to campus so I could walk. It was in Fairhaven. But of course, because I was working most of the time (through out my program), I had to have my car because I would be usually getting out of a class at ten to two, and I’d go to work at two o’clock, or as close to two as I could get there.
TB: Who were your favorite or most influential teachers and why?
TM: At Western?
TM: Annis Hovde; in English composition, George Muldrow. George is still around, those are the two that stand out; also Witter, Gelder for math, and Elvet Jones and Pete (Evelyn) Mason in psychology. I would include Bearnice Skeen in this list, also.
TB: Was it odd for you when you came back as a faculty member to have had a lot of your former teachers there or was that an easy transition?
TM: It was a pretty easy transition, I think mainly because the faculty made it that way. It’s not so much the person coming in who controls that, it’s the people who are already there and I think that there was a high level of acceptance so it was a fairly easy transition.
TB: Your main course of study was English. Anything else?
TM: A psych minor and close to a math minor.
TB: O.K. What classes did you like the best and/or learn the most from?
TM: We’re talking the undergraduate program here.
TB: Yes. Actually in your case, you can also expand it to your masters program.
TM: I really enjoyed me work with McCracken. Bob was a super faculty member for me through my masters program. He had a way of getting you to rewrite something without telling you, “This is really awful.” He’d tell me, “Read that paragraph. Now read especially those particular lines. Is that exactly what you want to say?” I’d have to laugh and say, “No!” He just had a way of doing that.
TB: It is a nice approach.
TM: Yes. He was good. What was that other question you were asking?
TB: What classes did you like the best or learn the most from?
TM: That’s a real hard one. I enjoyed 501. A lot of people don’t, but I was fascinated with research and statistics.
TB: Who taught the library skills part of that?
TM: Of 501?
TB: Yes. Was it Herb Hearsey?
TM: I think that Herb was the one who did a bit of it. Just a short section if I remember right. And of course, in reading in my masters program, reading the children’s literature kind of thing, was a very valuable course. I had language arts methods from Bearnice Skeen. Add her to my list as well (of faculty).
TB: What was she like as a teacher?
TM: Wonderful teacher; demanding, but supportive – the kind you wanted -- wants you learning, forcing the issue but also very good.
TB: What extracurricular activities did you enjoy the most? I know you were in choir.
TM: All I did was work.
TB: You were in College Choir.
TM: I was in College Choir and Concert Chorale. At one point, Dr. Regier told me that I was going to have to make a decision between choir and work. I had to work to stay in school. The end of that quarter was the end of my singing in Concert Chorale. I had to work.
TB: What was Regier like as a choir director?
TM: I think he was very good. He was very, very helpful to me in articulating in music. Some of the music that we sang was German oriented and he could help us to make those sounds. Talking about where your tongue is in your mouth. You really had to understand that, and what English word you might be saying, or get your mouth in a certain way, and then say that word. Then the whole thing comes out differently, the way we want it to. He was very good in that regard. He was also very good from a music standpoint.
TB: Any other special memories of your college days?
TM: One of my special memories is of meeting and marrying my wife, Jean, at Western. We met the first day of classes in September of 1958 and we were married in August of 1961. Naturally, there are lots of happy memories associated with that, also.
TB: Anything else I haven’t asked you that you would like to comment on about your education at Western?
TM: Just that I always felt that I got a very good, solid education. It was well rounded. It forced me to think differently than I had thought. It forced me to grow in my thinking. As it was I had been in strong classes in Bellingham High School and had two years additional experience at the Lutheran Bible Institute. Western really forced me to grow some more. I’ve always viewed Western as a good place to be; both as a student and as a faculty member.
TB: Did nothing from the Lutheran Bible Institute transfer to Western as credit?
TB: Well, maybe I better say thank you very much.
TM: Thank you.