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Dr. Marcella Maxwell: A legend in action

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 2/15/2012, 7:17 p.m.
Dr. Marcella Maxwell: A legend in action

Dr. Marcella Maxwell says that she's persuing her passion by educating adults and through her volunteer services. An example to the community and a crowned jewel in social circles, she has dedicated her life to education.

Currently working at Brooklyn College, Maxwell serves as the clinical supervisor of teaching fellows. Over the years, she's taken many positions in the education field, including classroom teacher, college professor and administrator.

A native of Cleveland, N.C., she comes from a long line of educators. Notably, her grandfather donated a land grant in her hometown for the first African-American elementary school.

"All I ever knew was how to be a teacher or principal," Maxwell said. "I was doing what came naturally to me."

Maxwell moved to the New York area at a young age and became a secretary for the New York City Housing Authority. Feeling that her job was boring, Maxwell went to college and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in elementary education from Long Island University.

Furthering her education, Maxwell later earned her doctorate in educational administration from Fordham University, writing her dissertation on a comparison of Black, white and Puerto Rican elementary school principals in urban schools.

During her years in the classroom, she was selected by then-Assistant Superintendent John B. King Sr., father of current state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr., to go to Puerto Rico to teach English as a second language. Upon her return, Maxwell started training teachers at Bank Street College of Education.

"I consider myself an education ambassador for the city of New York," she said. "I get such satisfaction when I help shape and influence the lives of young people, seeing their success as contributing citizens in the communities."

During her career, Maxwell worked at Medgar Evers College, where she stayed for 13 years, serving as dean of external affairs and dean of adult and continuing education. She is still affiliated with the college, serving on the foundation board, and her daughter works at the college.

Outside of the classroom, Maxwell continues to touch the lives of people in the community through her North Manhattan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority membership.

Maxwell is also a member of the prestigious Greater New York Chapter of the Links Inc., where she works with health and human services to provide education for seniors on issues such as Social Security, prescription drugs and Medicare. She also chairs the organization's Eastern Area's women's issues committee. One of her first projects is a campaign titled, "Dress for Success."

Maxwell has even taken on citywide positions. Under Mayor Edward Koch, she served as commissioner of human rights and chair of the Commission on Women.

"I still have a passion for women's issues," she said. "I'm pursuing my passion of educating adults through my volunteer services with the Greater New York Links. That makes me feel good and I know I've done a good job."