MISSOULA – Thanks to a recent gift, academic chairs honoring two exceptional regional educators – Maryfrances Shreeve ’57, M.Ed. ’63, and her son, William C. Shreeve ’54, M.Ed. ’58 – have been established at the University of Montana’s Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences.

Maryfrances Shreeve and her son William Shreeve (UM Photo)
Maryfrances Shreeve and her son William Shreeve (UM Photo)

The named chairs, the Maryfrances Shreeve Chair in Teaching Excellence and the William C. Shreeve Chair in Educational Administration, are the first for the college and are among the academy’s highest honors.

“There are no words to adequately describe our deep appreciation for these gifts,” said Roberta Evans, dean of the college. “It is incredibly generous and highly visionary of this special donor to honor these two individuals this way.”

Evans calls the support transformative, noting that those who educate teachers and principals decisively impact generations of children, adolescents and education professionals.

The Maryfrances Shreeve Chair in Teaching Excellence will support a distinguished professor in the college’s Department of Teaching and Learning. UM’s faculty in this department educate the next generation of dedicated and exceptional teachers who will emulate Maryfrances in Montana classrooms and across the nation.

The William C. Shreeve Chair in Educational Administration in the Department of Educational Leadership will support a distinguished professor committed to translating theory into practice for future school leaders. The department is known for combining innovative, technologically savvy approaches with a commitment to one-on-one personal mentoring. Such engagement is exactly the type of activity that Bill Shreeve strongly supported.

Both chairs will provide leadership for their respective departments, expanding UM’s impact as an international leader in educational theory, research and practice.

Maryfrances Shreeve was a much-loved master teacher who served the children and the state of Montana for more than 37 years. She never met a child – no matter how gifted, poor, wealthy, talented or ordinary – who did not deserve every possible opportunity.

The daughter of Montana pioneers, she was born in 1907 in Deer Lodge and grew up on a ranch near Gold Creek. She worked in the fields, helping with haying, harvesting and milking. After receiving a teaching certificate from Dillon Normal School (University of Montana Western), she accepted her first position in little Snowshoe, Montana, near Avon. Thus began a nearly 40-year career serving the state’s children.

She spent her career with students throughout western Montana – towns like Snowshoe, Clinton, Superior, Thompson Falls and Missoula – and retired in 1972 as a master teacher from the Butte Public School system. Hundreds of pupils became strong, capable and confident individuals under her caring tutelage.

Her only break from the profession came during the 1930s, when employment was minimally available for women whose husbands already were employed. She continued to teach even while earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UM in the 1950s and early ’60s.

In 1992, her children honored her with a UM teaching award in her name, the Maryfrances Shreeve Teaching Excellence Award. The award is given annually to outstanding, committed elementary school teachers across Montana.

William C. Shreeve, who was born in Missoula and graduated high school in Thompson Falls, followed in his mother’s footsteps to become an exceptional educator. He received both his B.A. and M.Ed. from UM, then started his professional life in Johnston, Colorado. There he was a respected and successful high school teacher, coach and principal who coached the high school basketball team to win the Colorado state championship in 1958.

He earned an Ed.D. at the University of Northern Colorado and joined Eastern Washington University in 1967 as a professor of education. He was dedicated to training quality principals and school administration professionals for K-12 school systems, instituting many national award-winning programs during his tenure. Recognized for his leadership and vision, he was elected by his peers to serve as the chair of the university’s Department of Education in 1972. He held this position until he retired in 1996.

Bill and college sweetheart Joanne Guilbault Shreeve ’55 married the month after she graduated from UM. Together they raised five children.

In 2005, he was honored by his family and friends with an award in his name, the William C. Shreeve Educational Administration Scholarship. The award is given annually to UM graduate students in the Educational Leadership master’s program.

The University plans to announce the inaugural recipients of the chairs this fall.

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