This Endowed Fund is named in honor of Jim Marran, New Trier High School Social Studies faculty member and Department Chair from 1956-1993; and member of the New Trier Educational Foundation Board from 2005-2014. This endowed fund provides financial support for professional development opportunities that are unique and innovative, further build a connection between New Trier and other schools, and advance outreach, equity, and community connections. This may include faculty grants for research, visiting teachers or experts, or partnerships with other districts.
Click here to support the Marran Fund.
Remembering Jim Marran
By Debbie Johnson Viktora
Published Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Julia Marran called Sunday to share the news that her dad had passed away early that morning. Jim died at his home in Winnetka of natural causes. This news was shocking and profoundly sad. Jim Marran was a vital part of my New Trier experience, and his passing has caused me to reflect on all I learned from him, both professionally and personally.
Jim grew up in Delaware and attended college at Holy Cross. He came to the Midwest to join the faculty of New Trier in 1956; he and his wife Barbara settled in Wilmette where they raised their four children. When New Trier West opened in 1965, Jim became the social studies department chair. He was an integral part of the West community, teaching history and working with his colleagues to build the new program. He was a teacher first; Jim found teenagers to be likeable and interesting and watching him with students was always a pleasure. He mentored teachers young and old, always available to listen, reflect and plan. Jim had a deep love for New Trier, but most important was his respect and admiration for teachers. He was a kind and supportive colleague who gave freely of his time to help teachers as they ruminated about their students and pedagogy. As department chair Jim continued to teach classes, serving as a role model and peer. He encouraged thoughtful innovation and often took part in new projects such as team teaching, geography education, and interdisciplinary studies. He taught many of us how to be teachers, often helping us reach a level of comfort with our profession that led to lifelong careers. When New Trier West closed, Jim was named chair of the merged department. He continued to be a school leader, working on numerous initiatives in curriculum, teacher development and student life. He sponsored a Social Service group, served on a committee that reviewed the merit evaluation system for teachers, and brought together a group of department chairs to mentor newly appointed chairs. But Jim’s heart was in the classroom. As he approached retirement, several of his colleagues asked what they could do for him in honor of his career, and Jim said, “Come to my last class.”
He retired from New Trier in 1993, leaving the building but not the school. He became a driving force in TARP, sending beautiful notes that kept retirees in touch with each other and New Trier. He played a vital role in the establishment of the New Trier Educational Foundation, an organization that thrives today. He served on a committee for the New Trier Archives and made a point of contributing to the preservation of the school’s legacy.
Beyond New Trier he worked on geography education on a national level, participating in the writing of standards that set goals for the teaching of geography at all grade levels. Jim was instrumental in the establishment of Advanced Placement Geography, having lobbied the College Board for creation of that course. He was a contributing author to several geography textbooks, served as a consultant for the schools in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and wrote articles for professional journals. His focus was always on teaching, serving to share his observations and perspective with the wider educational community. Jim’s presence was valued by all who knew him, he was gracious, kind and empathetic, always willing to listen and engage.
As time passed Jim became more than a colleague to me and became a dear friend. He was supportive and good humored as I stepped into the position of department chair, listening carefully and often offering his funny commentary on what I was reporting. He was sympathetic to any crisis and quick to check in just when we or I needed him. He was wise and generous, and always seemed to know just what to say.
Jim is survived by his wife Barbara and their four children, Jay (Fran), Julia (Jim Grosh), David (Laura) and Paul as well as seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He was especially pleased to recently have three grandsons attend New Trier, Jack Grosh and Luke and Calvin Marran.