Julie Agard
assistant professor, Department of Teacher Education, 308.865.8556

Gary Dulabaum, renowned educator, musician and comedian, began his last two-weeks at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, offering four enhancing literacy workshops for educators. 

Dulabaum has taught summer workshops at UNK as a guest lecturer for the past 12 years, leading sessions in enhancing literacy and combining music with reading. While he is a nationally recognized educator today, Dulabaum noted that he found ways to encourage others to read and to learn based on what he had developed for himself.

“I did terrible in school,” Dulabaum said.  “By first grade, I hated it.”

Then Dulabaum found that he could combine his likes and dislikes.

“I would take my school books and use musical tunes [to help learn the subject matter],” he said.

“[He] puts the arts back into the language arts,” said Julie Agard, an assistant professor in the UNK Department of Professional Teacher Education. Among those arts, Dulabaum has worked with visual literacy, poetry, songwriting, oral performance and writers’ workshops. Agard has helped administer Dulabaum’s workshops on the campus over the past 12 years.

She said that there are many repeat students of Dulabaum’s who register for the workshops, saying, “I need this for my personal growth.” Thousands of teachers and students across the state have been touched by Dulabaum’s work at UNK over the years, Agard added.

“Teachers really feel renewed after working with Gary,” she said.

Jane Davis, one such repeat student and a second grade teacher at Pershing School in Lexington, reminisced about Dulabaum’s visit to her school.

“They [Dulabaum and the students] wrote poems and songs about the school. He really gets everybody to participate and gets you past your shyness… He makes it [the subject matter] real because of the tie-in of literature, music, movement and writing.”

Cindy Mangers-Johnson of Ruth Hill Elementary School in Lincoln has team taught with Dulabaum. An elementary teacher, Mangers-Johnson worked with the Nebraska Department of Education to help establish the framework and objectives for the arts– visual, music, theater and dance.  

“The arts connect: they connect people, they connect each other, they connect culture. The arts are the big connecting force,” Johnson said, adding that she thinks teachers become better through sharing ideas and reciprocating.

“I just keep growing that way,” she said. “I just want every child to love to read and love to learn.” Johnson has worked with Dulabaum for 11 of the 12 years he has come to the campus. She has attended a workshop of his and now works with him help educators grow.

“He just inspires people,” she said.

The classes will end on July 18.