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Alumna’s work influences public schools

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Alumna’s work influences public schools

CW/ Kallie Chablas-Amador

CW/ Kallie Chablas-Amador

CW/ Kallie Chablas-Amador

CW/ Kallie Chablas-Amador

Myles Taste, Contributing Writer

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Mary-Clare Brophy, a senior majoring in marketing, said she is impressed with UA alumna Mary Allen Jolley’s accomplishments and tenacity.

Service-oriented, dedicated and passionate are all qualities that longtime public servant, Jolley, possesses. The Alabama Civil Justice Foundation and the Alabama Network of Family Resource Centers recently celebrated her 90th birthday on Aug. 26.

Though Brophy said she was not extremely familiar with Jolley prior to now, she is deeply pleased with her efforts to advance education and is ecstatic she is still being honored for her work.

“I’m glad that she’s not only trying to get students to empower themselves through the University, but to use their talents to empower themselves as well,” Brophy said.

Jolley, a Sumter County native, played a crucial role in both the development and funding of the public school system nationwide, collectively. What began as a teaching career in Cullman County eventually led Jolley to the office of U.S. Rep. Carl Elliott in 1955.

As a staff member for Elliott, Jolley began her lifelong process of evolving the U.S. Department of Education.

The National Defense Education Act, signed on Sept. 2, 1958, provided federal funding to science and math programs in all public schools nationwide. While Elliott is often credited with its composition, Jolley played a crucial role in its development as well, particularly the allocation of these funds across the nation. The Kennedy administration appointed her to review and evaluate national vocational education programs in 1960.

Her work in Washington was not just limited to the Kennedy administration, however, as President Lyndon Johnson also hired her to assist with his National Commission on Libraries in 1964.

University community-building was also nothing new to Jolley, as she served as director of Economic and Community Affairs at The University of Alabama in 1981. Additionally, she was vice president for Development at Trident Technical College in Charleston, South Carolina.

Upon Elliott’s death in 1999, Jolley assisted Bevill State Community College in erecting the Carl Elliott House Museum in Jasper, Alabama.

Kyle Cox, a senior majoring in marketing and audio production, is familiar with Jolley’s work and said he feels like Jolley often goes unrecognized despite her monumental accomplishments both within the state of Alabama and nationally.

“The National Defense Education Act was a milestone in our nation’s history,” Cox said. “It showed that America was ready to invest in its public school system.”

Altogether, the United States ended up spending about $1 billion toward scholastic improvements by the end of 1960. What initially began as a response to the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet spacecraft, triggered a nationwide hunger for advancement in the field of science.

Regina Wagner, assistant professor for political science, said she is pleased with Jolley’s ability to make a tremendous impact on legislation without holding an elected office.

“I think this is a good example of how if you go into public service, you can make a broad impact on policy without necessarily holding public office,” Wagner said.

Jolley’s political efforts on both the national and local level left a lasting influence on the public school system.

Shelby Dunbar, a senior majoring in early childhood education, expressed great admiration for both Jolley and her historical mark that she’s left on the field of education.

“It is even more astounding that Jolley is a woman and managed to make such a profound impact considering the time period in which she was professionally active,” Dunbar said.

According to The Tuscaloosa News, Jolley still remains a strong proponent of community activism and continues to serve as a consultant to community organizations. She still resides in her hometown in Sumter County.

Works Cited

 

  • Hunt, Thomas C. “National Defense Education Act.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 26 Aug. 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/National-Defense-Education-Act.
  • report, Staff. “Longtime Public Servant Mary Allen Jolley Honored on 90th Birthday.” Tuscaloosa News, Tuscaloosa News, 27 Aug. 2018, www.tuscaloosanews.com/news/20180827/longtime-public-servant-mary-allen-jolley-honored-on-90th-birthday.
  • “National Defense Education Act.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 June 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Defense_Education_Act.
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Alumna’s work influences public schools