Dr. Brian's Place trying to fill a void at CUP

Brian Maguire

Dr. Brian's Place trying to fill a void at CUP

CLARION Dr. John McCullough remembers former colleague Dr. Brian Maguire as a completely selfless person who was devoted to students "100 percent."

"He would spend hours at night answering emails, solving problems and buying supplies for students," McCullough said.

"He was always working with people. He was the kind of person who, if you asked him a question and he didn't know the answer, would spend hours researching and the next day would know the answer, whether it was ‘What book is good if you're being bullied' or ‘How do you change the engine in a 1979 Cavalier.'"

He was a tireless supporter of students, whether "6-year-old first- graders or 25-year-old graduate students," according to his obituary and they loved him.

Teachers Traci Blazoski having Maguire in sixth-grade and Marcy Sundling having him for fifth- and sixth-grade said they were blessed to have had Maguire in elementary school, then again as Clarion University education students. They recall his personal mark of excellence, a moose medals and drawings.

"He gave out moose medals for different accomplishments," Sundling said.

"The moose drawings were always something he put on our assignments when he graded them," Blazosky said.

She recalled his Bullwinkle voice. "Even as sixth-graders, we loved seeing those moose drawings on our papers and to hear him talk in his silly voice. When both Marcy and I had him in class at the university, he brought back the moose and drew it on our college papers, too."

Cara Defibaugh, Maguire's daughter, said the moose drawings initially were a way to encourage students.

"It came from the fact that he had a heart for students who didn't fit the norm. He could see potential in the kids and would look for ways they could excel, and celebrate their achievements," she said.

"If kids didn't like to read or didn't feel good about themselves, he would find what they were interested in. If they were interested in fishing, he'd help them explore fishing," Defibaugh said.

"He'd find what would make them light up, help them work toward a goal and feel successful."

When she started college, Defibaugh recalls her dad being invested in the thought that he wanted to treat his students the way he hoped her professors would treat her. He also modeled how he wanted his students to behave with their future students.

"He had a huge advisee load. People wanted him. He would always respond, but he wouldn't just respond. He provided feedback.

"He didn't want to just put an A on a paper. He felt the feedback was important and was an encouragement to his students."

Maguire retired as a professor in May 2015. He passed away in September of the same year.

His absence left a void in the School of Education.

"We realized how much we missed his work with students, tutoring and supplying them with books and materials, so I came up with an idea to create a place to try to fill that void," McCullough said.

Dr. Brian's Place opened March 27. Its mission is to provide professional development with Act 48 credits for local teachers and resources for Clarion education students, and to foster community engagement.

More precisely, the purpose of Dr. Brian's Place is to:

4Provide a location where School of Education students can get additional support, borrow resources, and develop skills critical to their success in field placements;

4Provide block and student teachers with resources, support and remediation;

4Provide a lending library of books, manipulatives, and adult resources that School of Education students can use to complete coursework or fieldwork;

4Engage the community in leadership, language and literacy learning events;

4Provide tutoring for basic skills and teacher certification exams;

4Provide students with help to meet established needs of the community; and

4Provide a location for community groups to gather on the weekends for developmental and educational programming.

Storytelling was an important component of Maguire's life. Maguire and others performed at area school, church and community functions as "Dr. Brian and Friends."

One of the goals of Dr. Brian's Place is to bring the art of storytelling to Autumn Leaf Festival.

Other plans include a "School of Education has Talent" day in which contestants show off their teaching skills, a professional development series for students and local teachers, a workshop at which local writers will present to students and teachers, and a computer workshop for members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

McCullough said community and alumni involvement in Dr. Brian's Place is welcome.

"If they have ideas for professional development or resources for our students or adult learners, they can contact us to get involved," he said.