Alumni News

Note: The following is a profile of Louise “Lou” McMichael Miracle, who was instrumental in establishing the McMichael Term Professorship. This profile was printed in the Spring 2006 edition of the School of Education’s “Carolina Slate” newsletter. Miracle, who passed away in 2008, was a 1972 graduate of the School’s elementary education program. The first McMichael Professor is Bill Ware, professor of educational psychology and professor of social work. A reception to honor Ware and recognize the gift from the McMichael family is being held this evening, Nov. 18, at the Carolina Inn.

Teaching our teachers: Louise McMichael Miracle designates $250,000 gift for McMichael Term Professorship

By Chrys Bullard, Contributing Writer
Reprinted from the Carolina Slate, Spring 2006

Photo of Louise McMichael Miracle

Louise McMichael Miracle

In 1972, Carolina student teacher Louise McMichael stood in front of an open classroom with a lesson plan she individualized to each student’s learning style. She was practicing progressive, leading-edge education born in the changing social, political and cultural mores of the ’60s and ’70s. Today, Louise McMichael Miracle (A.B.Ed. ’72) again stands at the forefront of pedagogies emerging from another societal shift: that toward globalization. She champions it by designating a $250,000 gift from the McMichael Family Foundation in support of the McMichael Term Professorship Fund in the School of Education.

“Children need to understand that the world is their classroom,” Miracle said. “We hope this professorship will support a global teacher — someone who can teach our teachers how to incorporate the world beyond us.”

The McMichael Family Foundation gift comes on the cusp of a campus-wide initiative to improve learning opportunities for K-12 students in North Carolina. “There is one problem facing North Carolina that we cannot wait to engage,” said Chancellor Moeser in his fall State of the University speech, “ … and that is the problem of our public schools. To live up to our calling to be the nation’s leading public university, our light must shine with greatest intensity where it is most needed. Nothing calls us more urgently than the challenge of improving public schools in this state.”

Thomas James, dean of the School of Education, is leading the education initiative within the Chancellor’s Task Force on Engagement.

“Preschool to high school, Manteo to Murphy, we must prepare students from every social background for the economy and society that are shaping the 21st century,” Dean James said. “The generosity of Louise McMichael Miracle and her family is timely beyond words in helping us meet our challenge.”

The McMichael family’s commitment to education is now in its third generation. Miracle’s father, Dalton Larkin McMichael Sr., originally established the foundation. The youngest of seven brothers, McMichael lost his father when he was three. His six older brothers took responsibility for his education, made sure he got to Carolina and made sure he graduated. “My father was very pro-education,” said Miracle. “He gave not just to the schools he loved and attended, but to others as well. And he instilled in us the need to give to education.”
Today, Miracle, her two sisters and brother manage the foundation, introducing their six children to the responsibility of giving. “We are a close family,” Miracle said. “We care about each other and we care about the family unit as a whole. It’s the most wonderful thing to get together and talk about our passions for giving. Because of our father, we can add to the quality of someone else’s life. We are exceptionally lucky we’re able to do that — and we all feel that way. Though I designated the gift, we all feel responsible for it.”

Miracle describes her ideal candidate for the McMichael Term Professorship as someone who is “forward thinking, progressive and exciting — someone who can inspire young people to want to be teachers and be good teachers.” Her highest and best hopes for the professorship transcend the walls of the School of Education. “Supporting professors at the college or university level engages the teachers who enter our school systems and influences the children in our communities,” she said. “Teaching is the most important profession in the world. The kids we’re teaching today are our future.”

An announcement of William B. Ware being named the inaugural McMichael Term Professor is available here.