Dr. Norma Snipes Marcere (1908-2004)
Dr. Norma Snipes Marcere (1908-2004) earned her Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s in counseling from Kent State University. Marcere applied to teach in her hometown of Canton, but was declined based on race. Her first teaching placement was Edmund Jones Junior High, making her Massillon’s fourth Black teacher from 1957-1965, teaching social studies and physical education. She also became the first Black counselor in Massillon schools, and later the first Black school psychologist in Akron City Schools.
Dr. Marcere wrote two autobiographies, “Round the Dining Room Table” and “The Fences Between,” which were later turned into a play by Lois DiGiacomo and performed by the Rainbow Repertory Co. in 1994. She was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame in 1985.
From the announcement of Dr. Marcere’s passing, she is described as “’A fantastic lady,’ recalled John Garner, who helped Marcere run PAX — the Project for Academic Excellence — which she had established in 1979. The Saturday school for underachieving, mostly black, inner-city elementary students grew from a $35,000 Stark County Foundation grant into one of the county’s most recognized education enrichment programs. It was a model for similar programs, such as STRIVE (Study, think, Read, Investigate, Volunteer and Excel), a program for older students that touched on social issues and personal responsibility. ’She put her whole heart and soul into education, trying to help children to learn,’ said Garner. ‘She never got tired; seven days a week she would help them. She just kept going, even to the past couple years.’ Marcere directed PAX until 2001.”
According to the PAX Excel program in Central Florida, “Dr. Marcere began PAX in 1979 to bridge the gap in the disparity in the available educational tools for minority students. Dr. Marcere found that the key component to her students’ educational success reading and comprehension. A developing world would need an educated and skilled workforce to move its economy, and minorities would be a part of this anticipated change. This led to a higher minority enrollment and graduation rates in institutes of higher learning in particularly Stark Stake College. PAX alumni now hold major seats in political office, produces law firms, physicians and accountants in Canton, Ohio and its surrounding community.”