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John H. Lounsbury papers

Biographical Note

Dr. Lounsbury was born in Plainfield, New Jersey during the Roaring Twenties. His middle name is in honor of the English sea captain of the Swallow that came to America after the Mayflower and it seems fitting that the gentleman fondly referred to as the "Lighthouse" man was, from birth, involved with new explorations and beacons.

Dr. Lounsbury lived through the Great Depression and during the latter part of the 1930s, he attended a small college in Tusculum, Tennessee. It was there he met his future wife, Libby. In 1941, during his college sophomore year, Lounsbury enlisted in the army. He was first a cryptographer, then a signal corpsman, and finally a technical sergeant. These assignments foreshadowed his later career as a writer. When World War II was over, he married Libby, and they moved to Florida where he finished his bachelor's degree. Then they moved back to Tennessee where Lounsbury earned his master's at Peabody College, now Vanderbilt University, in Nashville. As he continued at Peabody to work on his doctorate, Lounsbury developed a professional relationship with Leonard Koos, known as a founder of the junior high school movement. As a result of this relationship, Lounsbury elected to write his dissertation on the junior high school and through the related research developed an interest that would soon shape education in America.

In 1948, he began teaching junior high school in Wilmington, North Carolina for a sum of $1,800 annually ($5.00 a day!). After completing his doctorate, Dr. Lounsbury fulfilled professional assignments at Berry College in Rome, Georgia and at the University of Florida in Gainesville before finding his professional home at Georgia State College for Women (GSCW--now GCSU) in 1960. At Georgia College, Dr. Lounsbury served as Chairman of the Division of Teacher Education and Director of Graduate Studies. Except for a year's leave to work with The Teacher Corps in Washington, D.C., he remained at Georgia College until retiring in 1983 from his role as the first Dean of the School of Education.

Dr. Lounsbury is well known as a Legacy Leader in the middle school movement that began in the early 1960s. In particular, he served as an advocate for those exemplary middle grades practices that support the development of teacher–student relationships, such as schools-within-a-school and looping. Before his passing, he continued to be active in middle grades education: serving with the Georgia Middle School Association, the Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch program, the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE), formerly National Middle School Association (NMSA), and writing articles for publication. He continued to offer leadership at the state and national level through his writings on behalf of young adolescents and he served as a mentor, role model, and inspiration to teacher candidates across the College of Education and to students enrolled in the Georgia College Early College.

Finally, Dr. Lounsbury made such a positive impact on the School of Education, now College of Education, during his tenure at the university that in 1997 the school was named the John H. Lounsbury School of Education, becoming the John H. Lounsbury College of Education in 2009. Though his focus had been middle level education, throughout his career Dr. Lounsbury challenged educators to create a learning environment that supports the development of the unique students they serve, whether they are middle, elementary, or secondary. He had authored and co-authored over 150 articles, two college texts, and has contributed to numerous other books, reports and chapters. He had presented at state, national, and international conferences in the United States and around the world. Lounsbury described himself as "very conservative, old-fashioned…in personal values, progressive in educational values, and liberal in social values." We were indeed fortunate to know and work with this conservative, progressive, liberal man at Georgia College & State University.

Dr. John H. Lounsbury, one of the founders of the middle school movement, began his career in education over fifty years ago. He has written a plethora of books and articles, has been a national leader in the National Middle School Association (NMSA), and is our beloved former dean. He was an inspiration to all of us. Dr. Lounsbury was a strong figure in the Milledgeville community. He was an active member of Milledgeville First Presbyterian church for over 59 years. He taught Sunday school classes, kindergarten through adult and served many terms as church Elder. For many years he helped Libby with the Children’s Christmas program and the Easter floral cross on the church lawn. Dr. Lounsbury was a fan of the Georgia Bulldogs, Atlanta Braves, and Georgia College sorts. In the 70’s he wrote a weekly sports column for the Union Recorder about Baldwin High sports. The Association for Middle Level Education published Lounsbury’s biography, a book about his childhood through his contributions during his career in education.

Dr. Lounsbury was beloved by the Georgia College community, and many holds fond memories of him. He passed away at 96 on April 2, 2020 in Columbia South Carolina.