Marcy Migdal Fund for Educational Equality

About Marcy Migdal

Marcy Migdal

Marcy Migdal, March 3, 1947 – March 26, 2013

Marcy Migdal was an educator, activist, and innovator who spent most of her career working in education in the greater Seattle area. Inspired by the writings of Jonathan Kozol about education and the crises of poverty and inequality, she devoted her creative and pedagogic talents to fighting racism, developing innovative curricula in multicultural education, and training other teachers and educators around the state of Washington. While she spent many years working in the Edmonds School District on multicultural education and gender equity, Marcy always worked on the broader stage as well, bringing her ideas and collaborative energy to educators around the state, including as a founder and longtime Board Member of the Washington State Association for Multicultural Education (WSAME).

Marcy was born Ruth Marcia Alexander to Reba and Asher Alexander, in Philadelphia, Pa. and grew up there and in Oceanside, Long Island. She attended Douglass College, the women’s college of Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she received her B.A. in History and met her future husband, Joel Migdal. They married in 1968.  Marcy received her M.Ed. in Education from Rutgers and a Certificate in Multicultural Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She and Joel lived in New Brunswick, N.J.; Watertown, Mass.; Tel Aviv, Israel (1972-1975); and Brookline, Mass. and traveled all over the world together before moving to Seattle in 1980, where Joel became the founding chair of the International Studies Program at what would become the UW’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

Marcy began her career as a pioneer in the field of bilingual education. Fluent in Spanish and Hebrew, she created one of the first bilingual Spanish public school classrooms in New Brunswick, in 1969, and during her early years in Boston also taught Portuguese-speaking students, teaching herself conversational Portuguese in order to communicate effectively with them. In the 1970s, while living in Tel Aviv, she wrote curriculum for Israel’s Ministry of Education and also began her lifelong mission of teaching teachers, instructing at the Givatayim Teachers College.

A teacher, consultant, and administrator, Marcy served in a number of educational roles in the 1980s and early 1990s, after moving to Seattle. She wrote curriculum for the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle, which was then in its infancy, and for the Jewish Education Council. She also taught at Highline Community College, Pacific Lutheran University, and throughout the state, using the Anti-Defamation League’s World of Difference anti-racism program. She spent years consulting for schools throughout Washington state on issues of cultural diversity and religion in schools. As part of the founding group of the Seattle Children’s Museum, Marcy served as the Director of its Educational Resource Center. For four years, she also served as the principal of the High School for Jewish Studies.

From 1992 until 2005, Marcy was the Director of Multicultural Education, Title IX Compliance Officer, and Director of Indian Education for the Edmonds School District. In this capacity, she won statewide awards and recognition for her work. During this time, she also helped to found WSAME, serving on its board and helping to build a network of multicultural educators across the state of Washington. Never content to work only in a single setting, Marcy published several children’s books on Asian cultures, a study guide on diversity in Puget Sound, and a handbook for multicultural education.

As her colleagues and peers at WSAME wrote, “Marcy was much admired and loved by all who knew and worked with her. Her leadership in, enthusiasm for, and dedication to multicultural, diversity, equity and social justice education remained steadfast.”

In addition to her many professional activities, Marcy was an active member of Congregation Beth Shalom, where she regularly attended services and classes, served on the board, and played many other roles. She was also a founding participant and parent at the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle. Her greatest joy was the family she raised with Joel: her children, Ariela Migdal of New York, Tamar Azous of Seattle, and Amram Migdal of Boston. She loved her children-in-law Ethan Tucker, Paul Azous, and Rebecca Migdal, and delighted in her grandchildren and in spending time with her large extended family.  She treasured her many friends, with whom she liked to take walks around Greenlake, see plays performed by Seattle’s numerous repertory companies, discuss books and ideas, and host holiday meals.  She is missed by many for her unsurpassed personal warmth, spectacular cooking and baking, love of ideas and culture, and passionate devotion to the ideals of equality, social justice, and multicultural education.