Martha Rashid

Professor Emeritus of Education

Martha Norman Rashid was born in Geneva, New York. Raised in an enclave of Syrian immigrants, her father came to America in 1908 to escape conscription into the Ottoman Turkish army. Her mother and father had an arranged marriage and were wed only a few days after her mother arrived in America. As a young girl, she helped her parents, who spoke only Arabic and could not read, by reading and writing for them. Thus, she learned early the value of literacy and education. As the youngest of seven children, she developed a strong sense of familial cooperation and notes that though poor, her family and Greek Orthodox Church community were central to her childhood development. When not helping her family in summer time migrant farm work, she read avidly and excelled in school.

After completing high school as the valedictorian, Professor Rashid attended the State University of New York College at Geneseo, called Geneseo State Teachers College at the time. Professor Rashid credits her mother’s efforts and commitment to education for her ability to attend college. In addition to thriving academically, she worked serving lunches at one of the dormitories and gained a great deal of intellectual and social knowledge. She recalls the entire experience as “a fantastic preparation for kids who were the first in their families to attend college.”

Upon completing her Bachelors in Education, she got a position teaching 6th grade in Canisteo, N.Y. While there, Dr. Royal Netzer, the president of Geneseo State Teachers College at the time, nominated her for a scholarship for a graduate program at State University of Iowa, which she won. She went on to complete both her M.A. and Ph.D. at State University of Iowa. Professor Rashid recalls her time at Iowa as incredibly stimulating and profoundly impactful on her personal and professional identity. As one of the youngest students and a woman, she benefited greatly from the mentorship of her colleagues and advisors such as Gustav Bergmann, Wendell Johnson, and Herbert Spitzer. There, she continued to work diligently and to excel as a scholar, majoring in child psychology and education. In addition to conducting research, she also taught at the experimental University School and learned methods from veteran educators.

After completing her doctorate, Professor Rashid taught as a professor at Ohio State University from 1955-59. She married and her husband’s job brought her and her new family to Washington, D.C. George Washington University, which had just received a grant, contacted her to develop a Masters of the Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program. Having just had her first daughter, she wasn’t looking for a job at the time, but it sounded like a great opportunity, so she accepted the position. She continued to work at G.W.U., serving in various capacities as Director of the M.A.T. Program, the Assistant Dean for Research in the School of Education, the Director of the Early Childhood Program, and Professor of Education.  Her primary focus throughout was on life span human development with an emphasis on cognition and language. She personally developed not only the M.A.T. in Elementary Education but also the M.A. in Gifted and Talented Education, and several courses in Human Development, Cognitive Models and Instruction, and Language Development. Her efforts helped transform the School of Education into the School of Education and Human Development, and her rigorous and interactive courses, grounded in research, were a great contribution to the University.

In 1967, Professor Rashid also planed and directed the inaugural project of the Central Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory (C.A.R.E.L.), which paired together artists, child development specialists, and curriculum specialists. The resulting book, Children and The Arts, offered remarkable and innovative approaches to curriculum development. In 1984, Professor Rashid was awarded the prestigious Dilthey Fellow award to do research on “Dimensions of Meaning.” She was also extremely involved with University committees and government throughout her time at G.W.U., and believes that active involvement is “a lot of work, but is invaluable and so important as an aspect of political scholarship.”

Her extensive publications and consultation work has imparted an awareness of the intricate relationship between education and human development throughout the field. For example, in 1971, she joined a Florida State University team to work with a Department of Defense Dependent School (DoDDS) in Karlsruhe, Germany where teachers convened from around the world to develop innovative curricula; she continued to serve as an independent consultant long after this team’s initial work was finished. Then, in 1981, at the request of the Organization of American States, she travelled to Peru to conduct a one-week seminar for the Ministry of Education staff in the area of gifted education. Her consultation work, presentations, and publications have brought her and her work to educators around the globe.

In the future, Professor Rashid plans to continue her educational consultation work and to put her papers and publications into a collection. In addition, she enjoys spending time with her children and three talented grandchildren and revisiting the classic prose of Jane Austin.


B.Ed., SUNY at Geneseo
M.A., Ph.D. State University of Iowa