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Marjorie Mader: Covering schools for four decades

 

Marjorie Mader joined the Almanac reporter corps in 1970, five years after the paper was born. For the next 40 years, she focused primarily on school coverage, attending hundreds of board meetings and gaining a close and inside knowledge of school affairs.

She came to the Almanac as a professional journalist. A native of Wisconsin, she earned a journalism degree at Stanford. She spent a year as a Coro Foundation fellow, studying public affairs, and then worked as a reporter for the Independent Journal in Marin County.


Marjorie Mader
During that time, she met George Mader, who would become Portola Valley's longtime and legendary town planner. They married and moved to the Menlo Park area in 1956, and then to their new Ladera home on Memorial Day of 1965.

It was a school issue that brought her back into journalism in 1970. After she worked very hard on a curriculum problem in the Las Lomitas district, the Almanac failed to cover a key meeting. She called the editor, Hedy Boissevain, and found that the paper didn't have enough reporters. "She called me back that afternoon and asked if I'd do Portola Valley," recalled Ms. Mader, who still lives in Ladera and is an occasional contributor to the Almanac.

When Ms. Mader started with the Almanac, the Historic Schoolhouse at the Portola Valley Town Center was still a school. Today, the building is used for Town Council and other community meetings.

"It was a real community feeling," Ms. Mader said of those early years.

Besides Portola Valley schools, she also covered other districts during her Almanac career, including the Menlo Park City School District and the Sequoia Union High School District, as well as community colleges and regional educational issues.

"I used to read the paper to see exactly what happened in my board meetings," said longtime Sequoia high school district trustee Sally Stewart of Portola Valley in the 2001 article about Ms. Mader. "Marjorie is always very thorough. She knows the background, and knows what is going on, and puts it in context."

Ms. Mader was the major contributor to the Almanac's annual "Back to School" and graduation issues each year.

During her years at the Almanac, she has done community reporting and feature writing well beyond the education beat, including profiles of some of the impressive people who live in our communities.

Like many on the Almanac staff, she has been a photographer as well as a writer, "one of our best photographers on the staff," said Editor Richard Hine. "Her profiles of children are classics."

"I really enjoy taking photos of kids," she said.

Much of this article is based on a 2001 Almanac story, written by Marion Sofkty, about Marjorie Mader being honored by the town of Portola Valley for community service.

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