1930 - 1988
Dr. Gloria Mattera was in the business of changing lives. Born in Rochester, New York, the daughter of Joseph and Antoinetta Mattera, she and her brothers Albert and Frank attended city schools. After earning her bachelor's degree at SUNY Brockport in 1952, she taught for a year in the Greece, New York Central School District and then was invited to teach at the demonstration school at SUNY Geneseo in Geneseo, New York. She quickly became known for her creative teaching. During these years, she finished her master's degree at Brockport and her doctorate at Penn State. When she was invited to join the SUNY Geneseo faculty, Dr. Mattera considered the invitation and decided that by teaching prospective teachers, she could affect more people. As Professor of Education, her philosophy of helping each student become all she/he is capable of being influenced her students, both at the elementary and college levels.
In 1966, Dr. Mattera developed and conducted a six-week summer workshop for teachers of migrant children. Seeing the need for services for migrant farmworker children, in 1968 she founded the Geneseo Migrant Center. The Center soon bubbled with the summer school activities for migrant children. Plans immediately expanded to include daycare for infants and pre-schoolers who were left to go to the fields with their parents when the older children (who acted as the babysitters) attended summer school. The migrant farmworkers themselves were drawn into the program when adult education and recreation services were provided. The program became the nationally validated Project CHILD, developed from her philosophy that a child cannot be educated in a vacuum separated from family and community.
Dr. Mattera's service and commitment to change have been recognized nationally with many distinctions, including: the Literacy Volunteers of America Chairman's Award, election to the Rural Opportunities, Inc. Farmworker Advocate Hall of Fame, the New York State Migrant Tutorial Consortium Award for Service to Migrant Children, induction into the Brockport Alumni Association Hall of Heritage, the Geneseo Foundation Meritorious Service Award, the Migrant Health Public Service Award, the Phi Delta Kappa Leadership Award and the dedication of the 1986 Eastern Stream Migrant Education conference to her. The National Association of State Directors of Migrant Education recognized her contributions at the 20th Year Observance of Migrant Education in Washington, DC.
Dr. Mattera's migrant work took her from Mexico to Canada and from Puerto Rico to Hawaii. An enthusiastic traveler, she co-directed the Brockport European Tours for eleven summers. Her friends hold fond memories of "travels with Gloria."
For thirty years, Geneseo College students expressed thanks for the inspiration she gave them, and co-workers and friends marveled at her determination and perseverance. All along the East Coast migrants knew "Doc Mattera" by name, and her friendships with individual workers were countless. Gloria Mattera worked to change lives.