Posts Tagged ‘Wilkes University’

Exploring the Journey to Success at Wilkes University

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Exploring the Journey to Success at Wilkes University

The Journey to Success

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
The Face of America Project

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing. Abraham Lincoln.

Success Takes Teamwork

Thursday, April 7, was an unseasonably cold and rainy day. As we were leaving for our Face of America journey to the MartsMarts_9240_250 Center on the Wilkes University campus, the rain stopped and the sun began to shine. We didn’t know it at the time, but this was a good omen of things to come.

When we arrived at the Marts Center, the first three doors we checked were locked. We could not get into the building.

Just as we were about to check the fourth door, three men, Ryan, John and Gene, approached the entrance. With a pleasant greeting, they showed us how to get into the building. Once inside, Ryan and John accompanied us to Room 214 where they rearranged the tables and chairs transforming the room into a comfortable classroom environment.

These three men from the moving department represented Wilkes University with dignity and class. Kitch and I were very impressed by their attitude and their behavior. They reminded us of something Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Local, wrote in Inc. Magazine: The difference between success and failure is a great team.

Honoring Jennifer’s Request

Jennifer Baron is a very impressive student. She is working on Jenphone_sma double major in English and Secondary Education, and a double minor in Women’s and Gender Studies and Special Education.

She is a Resident Assistant, an E-Mentor, an Admissions Office Lead Ambassador, Vice President of UNICEF and Secretary of BACCHUS.

In her spare time, Jennifer writes for The Beacon, the University’s student newspaper

Kitch and I met Jennifer last year in Dr. Judith Gardner’s Cultural Studies class.

On this special afternoon, Jennifer arrived early to do an interview for The Beacon. When I asked her to help us set up the computer and the projector for our PowerPoint presentation, she pleasantly and willingly agreed to help. When all of the elements were working and the lights in the front of the room were dimmed, we went to the back of the room for the interview.

Jennifer asked good questions. She modeled the technique employed by many successful journalists. She humanized the interview with her first question. “Tell me about your background.” Her style was soft and relaxed. There were no “Gotcha” questions. She empowered me to be reflective, and she listened attentively to my answers.

It was a pleasure to work with Jennifer. Kitch and I are looking forward to reading her article.

To rephrase a famous quotation, Jennifer conducted a successful interview because she was prepared, polite and patient.

Two Successful Teachers

Just as Jennifer was finishing her interview, Drs. Judith and Robert Gardner walked into Room 214. As always they were welcoming and very personable.

Judy and Bob are two very successful teachers. They love what Judy Bob Ded_sm2they do, and they do it well. They are innovators. They started the Gardner Educational Forum Series at Wilkes, because they believe education should not be limited to the classroom. They want their students to hear other voices, because they believe those voices will enhance and expand the perspective of their students.

In the classroom, they create a positive learning environment. They encourage discussion, and they provide incentives that encourage students to do more than take notes and memorize data. They are available, courteous, kind and respectful to everyone they meet. They don’t talk about teamwork, they exemplify it in everything they do.

Because this would be the last time Judy and Bob would enter room 214 for a Gardner lecture as active members of the Wilkes University faculty, Kitch and I wanted to express our gratitude in a special way. We dedicated the lecture to Judy & Bob, and we had the dedication slide printed and framed. It was the least we could do to express our thanks for their kindness to us.

When William Arthur word wrote these words, he was describing Judy and Bob Gardner:

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

The Journey to Success

The short title for this presentation is The Journey to Success. The academic version of the title is Rules of the Road to Success: Life LessonsIMGTitle_sm from Experience.

I received the invitation to make the presentation in January, and despite cataract surgery and some health issues, I spent most of my time revising and refining the initial version of this presentation that was given at a Speed Networking Event at Marywood University in February of 2015. I will always be indebted to Matthew Parkyn for that teaching opportunity.

The final edit to the Wilkes version was made on the morning of April 7. Yes, you are not seeing a typo. On the morning of the presentation, I was tweaking my presentation.

Why, you ask?

The answer is very simple. I did not want to disappoint Judy IMG_8193_MEB_LFand Bob, their students and our friends who would be attending the presentation. Moreover, I feel deeply about this subject. It is something that is rarely discussed in a formal way in classrooms, and it is something that can be both emancipating and helpful to students.

By the time my research was finished, I had assembled a Success folder on my desktop. It contained 601 files and 29 folders. It was one of three folders containing materials about success. The final version of the PowerPoint presentation had 128 slides with 144 pictures and graphics.

In addition to the dedication slide we presented to Judy and Bob, we presented a framed copy of Jennifer’s slide to her.

Magic Moments

There were several magic moments during and after this presentation:

Looking out into the audience and seeing the faces of two of my former students, several of our friends and one of my former colleagues was a scene I will never forget;

Watching and listening to the students who were in the room, they were fully engaged;

Experiencing the joy of learning that was taking place, and knowing that the messages were resonating with the students and the adults.

Before the event, I asked the students to record their definition of success on a 3X5 note card.

After the event, I sent this note to Jason Walker and a similar note to the students who provided their e-mail addresses:

My wife and I are working on an article about the event, and…I IMG_8185_smread your answer to the question, What Is Success?

You wrote, Success is a feeling of self accomplishment, happiness and contentment.”

Based on the material you heard and saw in the presentation, would you modify your answer, and what would the modifications be?
What are your thoughts about the presentation?

This is the response I received from Jason Walker.

Hello Dr. Mussari, I would change my answer to (Success is) living with integrity, being surrounded by the ones you love, and a sense of self accomplishment. I found the presentation to be very helpful and insightful. It has definitely helped me to evaluate my choices, decisions, and values. Thank you for giving the presentation.

Those four sentences contained the best definition of a successful classroom experience a teacher could ever expect.

Jason came into the room with one idea. He participated inIMG_8220_DJ_sm every aspect of the presentation, and he left the room with a different and more refined understanding of the subject matter. What a moment. It doesn’t get much better than that.

An adaptation of the words of Peter F. Drucker says it all: No one learns as much about a subject as the person who is asked to teach it.

The celebrated American humorist, Will Rogers, gave us a thoughtful definition of success when he spoke these words:

If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing, and believe in what you are doing.

Kitch and I know that we love to help Judy & Bob Gardner and their students because we believe in what they are doing as teachers and friends.

Thank you, Ryan, Gene and John.
Thank you, Jennifer Baron.
Thank you, Judy & Bob Gardner.
Thank you, John Augustine and Mark Simko.
Thank you, Pam Bird.
Thank you, Bev, Darlene and Ellen.
Thank you, Sean McGrath.
Thank you, Gary Williams.
Thank you, Wilkes students,
Thank you, Wilkes University.

It was one of the most enjoyable and successful learning experiences Kitch and I have ever had, and we will treasure the moments we spent with you.

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The Rosenn Lecture: A Night of Connectedness

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Brian Greene, The Rosenn Lecture, Wilkes University: A Night of Connectedness

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright 2015
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

I have long thought that anyone who does not regularly – or ever – gaze up and see the wonder and glory of a dark night sky filled with countless stars loses a sense of their fundamental connectedness to the universe. Brian Greene

Honoring Greatness

During his lifetime, Max Rosenn was a leader, a thinker and aMax Rosenn reconciler. In death, the important work he did for his community and his country is remembered every year at the Max Rosenn Lecture in Law and Humanities. This event brings people from all walks of life together at Wilkes University for an evening of celebration, conversation, and connectedness.

Three hours before the lecture, a large group of invited guests attend a private reception and dinner. It is a festive occasion that enables Rosenn family members, Judge Rosenn’s law clerks and the featured speaker to interact with community leaders, teachers, students and friends of the judge. The atmosphere is welcoming. The conversations are enjoyable, and the food is delicious.


The pre-dinner speakers always share information about the judge and his contributions to the community. This year Eva Rosenn spoke about her grandfather with admiration and respect. She noted that he set the bar incredibly high. He transmitted his values by example, and he expected us to do what we can.

As Eva was speaking, I thought to myself Judge Rosenn would have enjoyed the event, because he liked to engage people in a personal way. The judge was always at his best when he was talking with a person face to face.

Judge Rosen was a quality person. When William A. Foster wrote these words, he was describing Judge Rosenn:

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.

Reaching for the Stars

The absolutely worst thing you ever can do, in my opinion, in bringing science to the general public, is to be condescending or judgmental. It is so opposite to the way science needs to be brought forth. Brian Greene

Brian Greene is a celebrated author, a gifted speaker and a distinguished physicist who is dedicated to unraveling the secrets ofIMG_8542_s the universe. These are impressive credentials to be sure, but there is another characteristic that is central to his success. He gives one the impression that he is as interested in the people he meets as he is in the research he does.

I had the good fortune to observe him interacting with people at the reception, during his presentation and afterward at a book signing. He was kind, helpful, patient and pleasant with everyone.

Brian Greene is approachable. He enjoys answering questions, and he does his very best to provide thoughtful responses to young and old alike.

In person and on stage, Brian Greene is dynamic, not histrionic. He is humorous, not ludicrous. He is friendly, but never condescending.


Before a packed house in the Dorothy Dixon Dart Center for the Performing Arts, he demonstrated his creativity as he explained String Theory, Black Holes, and Holograms.

He is a man on a mission. He wants to help people look at the universe not just as a subject of wonder, but as an opportunity for learning and gaining an understanding of “the what" and "the why" questions.

He creatively used multimedia tools to demonstrate the possibility that there are many other universes that exist parallel to our IMG_8574_Suniverse.

He artfully demonstrated how the universe may be a three dimensional image on a 2-D surface that surrounds us. In other words, the universe may be a hologram.

To be sure, this Rosenn lecture was much different from any of its predecessors. Yet like all the others it caused people to think about and talk about matters that they might never consider.

Now when we look up at the sky our thoughts will be more than “Oh it’s so beautiful.”

That is exactly what the Rosenn Lecture is designed to do, and that is why I believe Judge Rosenn would be very pleased with Brian Greene’s presentation.

Aphorisms for Life and Science

IMG_8582_s These are a few of the maxims Brian Green shared with his audience:

It is so hard to criticize something you don’t understand;

Cutting edge is an uncomfortable place to be;

To push forward, to innovate one must go forth not knowing whether they are right or wrong;

The art of explanation is not certainty;

A scientist must have the courage to ask the questions a five-year old would ask. How does it work? Why does this happen?

Brian Green, a brilliant Face of America, has that kind of courage.

Thank You, Erin Dupay, Lucas Domulevicz, Rebecca Kuc, and Dr. Terry Wignot, for your wonderful dinner conversation at table 7.


Thank you Rebecca Van Jura and Mildred Urban for the time, effort IMG_8476_Sand energy you invested in making the 34th Max Rosenn Lecture a success.

Thank you, Craig Blakeley, Dr. Chris Bresieth, Judge Tom Burke, Judge Joe Van Jura, Iran Fahmy and Ed Transue. It was great to see you at our annual reunion.

Thank You, Brian Greene for bringing your message to our home town in an entertaining, informative and interesting way.

Thank you, Dr. Patrick Leahy and the members of the Wilkes University administration, faculty and staff for a wonderful evening of connectedness.

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Wilkes University: Life Lessons from Judge Rosenn

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

Wilkes University: Judge Max Rosenn: A Man for All Seasons

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2015
All Rights Reserved

Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with … honesty and truth.Ralph Waldo Emerson

On a cold, damp March afternoon, Kitch and I made a Face of America journey to the campus of Wilkes University. OurPoster-1 destination was the Marts Athletic Center. Our purpose was to share a re-edited version of our Windsor Park Story, Judge Max Rosenn: A Man for All Seasons with students, teachers and parents who attended the March 26th, Gardner Educational Forum Lecture.

Kitch and I produced this episode from interviews we did with Judge Rosenn in 2004. We wanted to enable the most celebrated jurist in the history of Northeastern Pennsylvania to speak for himself about his life and his legacy. We wanted to highlight his definition of character, integrity, community service and justice. We wanted to enable young people to connect with a man who personifies the characteristics and values of America at its very best.

Several times each year, the Gardner Educational Forum brings Judy Bob Logo-1together students, teachers and parents in a community setting to learn about people, places and experiences that will expand the horizons of the students, affirm the important service of teachers, and enable parents to experience the creative and invaluable opportunities Judy and Bob Gardner have been offering their students and IMG_0729graduates for many years.

Judy and Bob have a priceless gift, they make everyone feel like a valued member of their educational family. They create a palpable feeling of belonging and joy when you are with them.

As always, Dr. Robert Gardner started the event with a warm welcome to everyone and an expression of gratitude to the attendees, the participants and the organizers of the event.

Thinking Out Loud

To give structure to this part of the session, our PowerPoint presentation contained 34 slides including 26 informational slides DK pictand 8 slides with questions that were designed to stimulate questions and comments.

We dedicated the lecture to Dr. Dan Kopen, a Wilkes graduate and a well respected surgeon. Dr. Kopen gave Kitch a second chance at life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In our opinion, Dr. Kopen is a man for all seasons. Little did we know that one of the participants in the room was a breast cancer survivor and a patient of Dr. Kopen’s. This is what she wrote about the dedication:

I, too, am ever thankful for the kindness and surgical expertise Dr. Dan Kopen afforded me in my life. His kindness and getting me through those days was a onetime gift of a lifetime. I can understand how you place him… in your presentation today.

Of all the questions we asked the audience, these three opened a gateway to the video:

Why should we study the life of Judge Rosenn?
What is character?
What is integrity?

The first question provided a natural transition to this thought. We study Judge Rosenn’s life because values matter…example is important. Studying his life will help us better understand the meaning and application of important values.

To provide context about the meaning of character and integrity, we included a discussion of Sir Thomas More, who, to this day, is the personification of courage, faith, forgiveness, honor, humility, learning, loyalty, patience and thoughtfulness. More was the first person to be honored with the title “A Man for All Seasons.”

Judge Rosenn Speaks

With help from Beth Spencer and Tracy Kaster, we were able set up title AMand screen the episode about Judge Rosenn.

Sitting in our garden on a beautiful summer afternoon in 2004, the judge spoke eloquently and sincerely about the life experiences which helped him to develop character. In his opinion, character is formed at home, in school and in a religious setting. He believes his character was formed by the time he was 12-years-old. For the rest of his life his character gave him a moral compass that guided his actions in private and public life.

He was unequivocal in his comments about the need for people with character and integrity in all walks of life. People who put theMR!A interests of the public they serve above selfish interests of personal gain. He was as critical of CEO’s of major corporations and bankers as he was of elected officials, and rightly so. This was the era of the Enron and the World Com scandals to name but two stories that dominated the news at that time.

When Judge Rosenn spoke about his legacy, he emphasized the service he gave to his community after the devastation of Hurricane Agnes in 1972. He said this was one of his finest moments.

He also mentioned his attempt to get equal treatment for women in military service, and his attempt to uphold the claim of a private citizen that public officials like the U.S. Treasurer were obligated to perform a just and accurate accounting of the disbursements of the United States.

Life Lessons

In this section we reviewed Judge Rosenn’s comments MRH3about:
Respect for the dignity of the individual;
Respect for law and country;
The need to judge people by their character, not their race, social or financial status and the need to learn something every day.

During the Q&A session, an undergraduate student majoring in education who attended the event with her father, who is a teacher,IMG_0721 told us that everyday, she and her father sit down to talk about what they have learned that day.

A young, athletic undergraduate told the audience he learned that it is important to be the best person you can be.

A teacher shared this poignant thought: “There’s hope out there. In the classroom, I have to be kind.”

Another teacher shared this hopeful thought: “I come away revived and feeling that it’s going to be alright.”

While looking for a quotation that would summarize our experience IMG_0746at Wilkes University, I discovered these powerful words of Robert M. Hutchins, president and chancellor of the University of Chicago:

Education is not to reform students or amuse them or to make them expert technicians. It is to unsettle their minds, widen their horizons, inflame their intellects, teach them to think straight, if possible.

That’s a perfect description of what Judy and Bob Gardner do for their students, and how they use their Educational Forum Series to inspire other teachers to do the same for their students.

What we experienced at Wilkes University was a classic example of America at its best.

Thank you, Judy and Bob.
Thank you, Beth and Tracy.
Thank you, Judge Max Rosenn.

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2014 A Year of Priceless Gifts

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

2014 A Year of Priceless Gifts

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Tony Mussari
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2014
All Rights Reserved

Lord we thank Thee…for the health, the work, the food and the bright skies that make our lives delightful. Robert Louis Stevenson

The words of one of the most beloved poets best explain theGroup gratitude Kitch and I have for the priceless gifts we received in 2014 from our friends and family.

The year began with a memorable event at the Gateway Theater in Gettysburg. Thanks to the the kindness of Robert Monahan, Jr., the screening of Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg was a perfect way to share the story of the Medal of Honor convention, the values associated with the Medal of Honor and the transformation of the students from North Plainfield, New Jersey who attended almost all of the convention events recorded in the documentary.

After the screening, we received this comment from a mother and grandmother who attended the screening:

IT REALLY SHOULD BE SHOWN TO THE SCHOOLS as the majority of the youth are not exposed to the humility, sincerity and dedication that you presented.


In March, we had the good fortune to participate in the Annual Ethics Conference at Marywood University. Organized by Dr. Murray Pyle and several of his colleagues at Marywood, it was a day of learning, and a priceless opportunity to make new friends and experience the beauty and the welcoming atmosphere of Kitch’s Alma Mater.

This is one of the transformational thoughts offered at the conference; There is no dichotomy between being a good person and being a success in business.

Dr. Murray Pyle “We thank you for the peace accorded us this day.”

On a beautiful march day, we traveled to Baltimore to attend the 15thIMG_5217aMJKD Annual Women in Maritime History Awards. Our friend, Mary Jane Norris was the honoree. During her acceptance speech she shared this thought: Do small things well, because they all add up.

Mary Jane we thank you for the gift of your example.

In April, Dr. Rex Dumdum, Jr. arranged a screening of Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg at Marywood University. He attended to all the details of the event including dinner, a reception an afterglow, and the technical matters that make or break an event of this IMG_5597A250nature. Rex made sure there were no anxious or stressful moments before, during and after the screening.

It was an evening of community, friendship and learning.

There were no limits placed on the Q&A session. That enabled students, teachers and visitors to provide invaluable feedback. That experience inspired one of the students in attendance, Amber E. Clifford, to write a heartfelt comment about the documentary:

“Four Days of honor and Valor in Gettysburg is truly inspiring to those who are struggling to do what they know is right.”

Thank you Rex. You give special meaning to the words of Anna Sewell: “Good People make good places.”

In April, we participated in the annual Refresh Leadership Live Simulcast at the McCann School of Business in Wilkes-Barre, PA. ELL_5857_1_250

The facility was perfect for the event.

The people from the school were very pleasant.

The room where the event was held was an excellent choice for the session.

The members of the Express Pros team were very friendly and willing to do whatever they could to make everyone feel right at home. Their kind and welcoming way reduced the normal anxiety levels that accompany a presentation of this nature.

On that day, we met three radian faces of America, Kathleen Nolan Barrett and Kathy Barrett, Jeff Doran

In May, Amy Clegg invited us to participate in an Express Business Solutions Seminar in Scranton. Jack Smalley, the Director of HR Learning Amy Jack2and Development for Express Employment Professionals, gave an informative and inspirational presentation about leadership.

These are but two of the thoughts he shared with his audience:

Leaders are responsible. They leave the excuses behind.

Effective leaders do not accommodate falling stars. They encourage and reward excellence!

Jack Smalley is a man who exemplifies professionalism with heart.

Thank you, Jack for giving us the strength to encounter that which is to come.

In May, we traveled to North Plainfield, New Jersey for two screenings of our documentary. These events were organized by Tom Mazur. The screeningScreening 1_3_IMG_8045 at the High School enabled us to experience the ways in which the documentary resonates with students.

The comments students shared with us after the screening made the long and demanding days and nights of location shooting and editing worthwhile.

The evening screening showed us that adults relate to the messages in the documentary in very positive ways.

This screening gave us an opportunity to celebrate the leadership of the MB_Gift_8179retiring superintendant of schools, Dr. Marilyn Birnbaum. Without her belief in our work, we would not have been able to do what we have done in North Plainfield since 2009. That work may be over, but the positive memories will live on forever.

Later in the year, we joined a delegation from North Plainfield in Atlantic City. There we screenedFour Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg for a small audience at the New Jersey School Boards Association Convention. That venue proved the accuracy of Seneca’s words: It is quality rather than quantity that matters.

Several times this year, we had an opportunity to celebrate quiet heroes who make our world a better place because of their acts of kindness andIMG_4437 consideration. Many of these people are associated with Geisinger/CMC in Scranton and Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists. Several articles in our blog record the competent and compassionate medical care Kitch received during her total knee replacement surgery.

To Dr. Harry Schmaltz and his team of caring professionals an adaptation of Stevenson’s words best records our gratitude. We thank you for the hope with which we expect tomorrow.

In 2014, both Kitch and I spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital for tests and procedures. In our blog, we expressed our thanks to the people who did their jobs without noise or notice in an excellent and humane way.

Judy Bob200_9229sm

In October, we visited with our friends at Wilkes University. This occasion gave an old teacher a new classroom, and an opportunity to work with an impressive group of students who wanted to learn something about character education.

If you are looking for excellence in education, you need look no further than the creative work of Judy and Bob Gardner and their colleagues. What they are doing to enhance learning opportunities for students in the Education Department at Wilkes University is impressive.

Thank you Judy and Bob for giving us an opportunity to help you with the important work you are doing.

A few weeks later, we traveled to Luzerne County Community toIMG_6231 participate in the Annual History Conference. This year Bill Kashatus invited us to partner with Mollie Marti to tell the story of the life and legacy of Judge Max Rosenn. To do this we produced a new version of the Windsor Park Story we broadcast about Judge Rosenn in 2004. It was a sentimental journey to one of our favorite places with one of the most impressive leaders we have ever met, Judge Max Rosenn.


In November, we drove to Binghamton, New York to celebrate the naturalization of two of our very favorite people Viola and Rex Dumdum. Sitting in the historic courtroom where the ceremony took place gave us a better understanding of what America and the blessing of American citizenship is all about.

What a gift it was to welcome two magnificent citizens to America on their big day.

Perhaps the most challenging work we did during the year took place during the early morning hours after we had attended to our other responsibilities.

In January, shortly after the screening in Gettysburg, Kitch and I began to work on a book for our grandchildren. Designed to be a legacy gift, it is a visual narrative. It combines images from our Face of America project and several documentary projects like our What IsIMG_8304 for Article America? Series and our Miracle Project with the life lessons we have learned navigating the bumps on the road of life.

During their Christmas visit we presented the book as a surprise gift to the grandchildren and their parents.

In a way, it closed the circle for us.

An adaptation of the words in Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem Morning Prayer enables us to give thanks for the blessings of 2014 and look ahead to the New Year with hope:

Lord we thank Thee for the place in which we dwell… the peace accorded us this day…for our friends…give us the strength to encounter that which will come in 2015…that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another.

Happy New Year!

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A Special Moment at Wilkes University

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Wilkes students view documentary film on Gettysburg
The Times Leader

October 02. 2014 6:26PM – 1913 Views

By Bill O’Boyle

Photograph by Fred Adams

WILKES-BARRE — Honor and valor, along with character, courage, humility and integrity were words discussed and their definitionsWilkes Presentation displayed at length Wednesday during a two-hour presentation at Wilkes University.

Dr. Tony Mussari Sr., retired King’s College professor, spoke to a group of Wilkes education students about his latest film — “Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg.” His presentation was part of the Drs. Robert S. and Judith A. Gardner Educational Forum Series that features speakers from the educational and business community.

When the film ended and Mussari stopped speaking, the students came away impressed, challenged and determined to follow the examples depicted in the film.

The documentary was filmed during the 150th Medal of Honor Convention, held in September 2013, in Gettysburg. Six Junior ROTC students from North Plainfield (N.J.) High School are featured: Adriana Miranda, senior; Elijah Sheridan, junior; Jared Ruiz, junior; Ruel Lindsay, junior; Kyle Pacla, junior; and Nancy Bahnasy, sophomore.

The students got to meet and talk to several recipients of the Medal of Honor and they heard the selflessness of each story and the attitude of “we did what we had to do” that echoed through the four days.

And the echoes reverberated at Wilkes, where the students gained a perspective on how important it is to live one’s life in an honorable and ethical way.

Mussari began with a thought for the day from George Washington, the father of our country, who said: “Labor to keep alive in your breast, that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

The New Jersey School Boards Association has supported publication and distribution of a teaching guide of Mussari’s documentary that will be used in all New Jersey public high schools.

“I’m worried about your generation,” Mussari said. “I’m not afraid for your future, but I am concerned.”

Medal of Honor

So Mussari embarked on this journey, with his wife, Kitch Loftus Mussari, to film another documentary to add to their list of completed projects, like those on the Agnes Flood of 1972, the Centralia Fire in 1982 and the Windsor Park series.

This project was 15 months in the making and included 21 trips to Gettysburg, site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.

As the students watched the documentary, they learned there are 3,462 Medal of Honor recipients, all but one are men; 63 of them fought at Gettysburg and 1,522 fought in the Civil War. The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.

As Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Barney Barnum said, “I’m not a hero. I’m just Barney Barnum,” the students pondered the question often asked: “What motivated them to do what they did?”

There were plenty of reasons offered, but the overriding response was: “We did what we had to do.”

The students learned the hardest thing to do is doing the right thing, but most of the Medal of Honor recipients in the documentary agreed that when faced with a dangerous situation, a moment arrives when all just reacted and they did what had to be done.

As Sal Giunta, the youngest recipient who served in Afghanistan, said, “Right will always be right.”

Mussari said the lessons learned in Gettysburg need to be learned throughout the U.S. He said one-third of children are born into single-parent families. He said numbers are always increasing of grandparents raising their grandchildren.

“These are challenging times,” Mussari said. “These trends need to change.”

The Wilkes students said the documentary opened their eyes and they came away impressed by how each recipient disregarded their own safety to do what was necessary for the good of their comrades, their communities and their country.

(The Medal of Honor statistics in the documentary reflect the number of recipients as of September 2013)

Walking With Justice, Servant Leadership

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Walking With Justice, Servant Leadership

Written by: Tony Mussari
Edited By: Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs: Kitch & Tony Mussari
Copyright 2013, Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

God, help me make a contribution to a just world. Judge Max Rosenn

Some readers have called Mollie Marti’s book,IntroductionBG_1355 Walking with Justice, thoughtful, inspiring, transformational and profound. One reviewer celebrated it as a timeless handbook for being human. For Kitch and me, it is all that and more.

Last week our Face of America journey took us to Wilkes University. We wanted to be in the audience at the Gardner Lecture Series when Dr. Mollie Marti told the compelling story about her mentor, Judge Max Rosenn.

It was a wonderful moment of celebration and respect for a jurist who deserves nothing less. It was a beautiful moment for Mollie who is doing everything she can to share what she calls a love story similar to Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie. It was an incredible learning opportunity for the people who attended.


Mollie began her presentation with a heartfelt tribute to Judge Rosenn: “ He was the greatest servant leader I’ve known.”

Then this mother, lawyer, teacher and psychologist provided context with a definition of a servant mentor:

It is someone who inspires you to be more passionate about serving others and believing there is no other way to live. “From inside out, a servant mentor leaves an indelible thumbprint on the soul of another.”

You could hear a pin drop in the room when Mollie transitioned into her description of Judge Rosenn as a servant leader.

These are some of the things Kitch and I learned about Servant Leadership as practiced by Judge Max Rosenn and experienced by his law clerk, Mollie Marti.

1. Servant leaders are driven by the passion to serve others.

2. Servant leaders heal wounds and restore relationships.

3. Servant leaders are masters of empathic listening and affirming others.

4. Servant leaders inspire others to keep moving forward when hope is in short supply.

5. Servant leaders are masters of rejuvenation.

6. Servant leaders are stewards who are committed to help others grow.

7. Servant leaders create an environment that encourages resilience.

8. Servant leaders value relationships.

9. Servant leaders are solution-oriented.

10. Servant leaders celebrate what is right, and they work together to remedy what is wrong.

According to Mollie, “Our choices ultimately determine what we achieve and who we become.” Servant leaders provide models for productive choices.

One of the most important lessons Mollie learned from Judge Rosenn is recorded in this quotation:


If we didn’t feel that an individual can shape one’s life, we wouldn’t be concerned with developments of character and fundamental precepts like justice, the value of truth, the redeeming power of compassion, and the transformational power of love.

One of the most valuable lessons Mollie taught Kitch and me happened when she shared these words of wisdom: “No circumstance is so dark or hopeless that a change of heart and smart action cannot change the course.”

Samuel Butler believed that every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or anything else, is always a portrait of himself. Kitch and I went to Wilkes University on a beautiful autumn afternoon to listen to a friend talk about her hero. In the course of the discussion we recognized that the portrait she drew of Judge Rosenn produced a vivid image of her caring, giving, sharing andMMJG_1354 serving heart of gold and soul of platinum.

Thank you, Judy and Bob Gardner for this marvelous experience.

Thank you, Judge Rosenn for a lifetime of service to our country and our community.

Thank you, Mollie for preserving this legacy and sharing this message of hope and healing. You and your mentor are an essential part of the mosaic of the Face of America on its best day, and we are in your debt.

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A Priceless Moment at Wilkes University

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Teaching the Greatness of America as an Experience, Part 1

Written by Tony Mussari
Copyright 2012
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

Nine-tenths of education is encouragement.Anatole France

A Priceless Opportunity

Life is a series of opportunities. Sometimes we see them, and we act accordingly. Unfortunately, many times they go unnoticed, and we miss the moment.

On April 3, Kitch and I entered the Marts Center on the Wilkes University campus to make the most of an opportunity. This Face of America journey began in September 2011 when we received this note:

We read the piece about your film … and would love it if you could come to our campus and speak about your important work with our education students sometime during the spring semester… We believe that area artists and educational leaders in all fields can help us prepare our students to be the best teachers they can be; not all learning happens in the classroom, as you are well aware.

Thank you very much.
Judy and Bob Gardner

Judy and Bob Gardner are exemplary Faces of America on its best day. They are teachers with a purpose. They want their students to hear other voices in their classroom and have real world experiences outside the walls of ivy. Their expertise is experiential learning, and their gift to Wilkes University and the students they teach is the Gardner Educational Forum Series.

Our assignment was to help their students understand how documentary film can be used to take students to places where they can learn important life lessons.

The Challenge

How do you explain 47 years of work in 90 minutes? How do you make it interesting and meaningful to students who live in the digital suburbs of Facebook and Twitter? It took a lot of thought and two weeks of intense preparation to get it right. Ultimately, I followed the advice of my mother as recorded in an inspirational thought typed in bold black letters at the bottom of one of Judy Gardner’s notes:


Once I reached this conclusion, I felt a kind of freedom that is hard to explain, but wonderful to experience.

Kitch did not want the stress that comes with a presentation of this magnitude, so I did the heavy lifting.

My strategy was simple. I would do what I did in my classroom. Thinking of it as just another class in a much different forum, freed me from the restraints that fear and worry impose on speakers. I would use examples from our 2005 Miracle at Lake Placid Project and three others: What is America? (2001-2011), The Face of America (2010) and Gettysburg (2012).

In my mind’s eye, Coach Herb Brooks and his team of lunch pail college kids is a classic example of American greatness, and our Miracle Project was a textbook case of experiential learning. It enabled 20 seniors to learn about the legendary coach, his philosophy, his team and their unprecedented victory over the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Three trips to Lake Placid, New York, during the 25th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice provided students with an opportunity to connect with the place and the people who made the victory over the best hockey team on the planet happen. We attended the relighting of the Olympic Flame, the Mirror Lake party and the rededication of the1980 rink. From our classroom, students conducted interviews via conference calls with Patti Brooks, her children Kelly and Danny, Ross Bernstein, author of Remembering Herbie, and Wayne Coffee, author of The Boys of Winter.

We assembled a team of consultants including Julie Marvel, a University of Minnesota graduate and an accomplished athlete and public relations professional, songwriter Mike Lewis, graphic designers D.J. Pizzani and Colleen Connelly, and voiceover specialist Greg O’Brien. Their unique contributions added a special dimension to this experience.

The final episode in our What is America? Series, Shanksville, PA: A Place of Transformation, gave a voice to 11 cheerleaders from North Plainfield, New Jersey, who visited the Peoples’ Memorial to the Heroes of Flight 93 in 2010 and 2011 with us. Each one of these students had a story to tell about life and learning outside the classroom. These students and their coach, Skip Pulcrano, opened the door to the North Plainfield School District for us.

The Face of America project is the link to the Gettysburg National Military Park and two people who I believed were essential to the lecture: 2d Lt. Emily Perez and Barbara Platt. Both Barbara and Emily are inspirational women of dignity, class, courage and service. They speak to the greatness of America in quiet acts of kindness and putting the greater good before their personal interests. Emily Perez is the inspiration for our Face of America project. Barbara is the inspiration for our Gettysburg project.

My close and life-changing encounter with the movie To Sir With Love in 1967 provided an ideal way to begin the presentation. Sidney Poitier’s powerful portrayal of interim teacher Mark Thackeray is a textbook example of experiential learning. His decision to treat the students in his English class like adults and teach them survival skills by taking them out of the classroom provided the context I needed to frame my Gardner lecture.


While designing my PowerPoint presentation, I received help from several members of our 2005 Miracle team: Rob Anderson, Chris Boos, Ryan Doyle, Matt Harm, Stephanie Youngs, Karlina Zikor and D.J.Pizzani.

D.J. was not a member of the class. He was doing an internship in New Jersey, but he volunteered to help us. He designed the collage for the project, and all of the cover designs for our year-end events. This is an excerpt from his evaluation of the experience:

“It was incredibly beneficial to learn from Herb Brooks and his 1980 Olympic Team. Something you taught me, Doc, and came out of your course and this project is: If it wasn’t difficult, it wouldn’t be worth doing.”

Ryan Doyle offered this discovery:

“I learned that life is about making good stories, sometimes even out of the worst situations. Be honest, be humble, work hard and above all don’t be afraid of the world, make an adventure out of it.”

Stephanie Youngs was very specific about her take away memory: “One thing I learned for sure is that nothing comes your way without any work involved!”

The lesson Christopher Boos learned from the Miracle team was personal and powerful:

“The triumph was a result of believing they could succeed, and then making it happen. Keeping that message in mind has given me the strength and courage to face numerous, obstacles…”

Rob Anderson learned three things during the Miracle Project: “The course taught me to keep focused, hard work pays off, never feel defeated.”

Matt Harm liked the Mark Thackeray tone of the course: “We were treated as students, but we were also treated as professionals.”

When it was finished, the PowerPoint presentation had 100 slides with 10 collages, 14 graphics and 144 pictures. Cartier Scott, an affable Wilkes University student, volunteered to help set up the computer for the presentation. He and Dr. Bob Gardner made sure everything worked perfectly.

A last minute decision to wear the USA Olympic jersey the students in my 2005 class gave me as a gift helped to reinforce the power of creative dreaming. Bob Kalinowski noted that moment in a comment he wrote after the presentation. “Right from the beginning, I was captivated and beamed with pride when you put on the USA jersey.”


The Miracle at Lake Placid resonated with Virginia and John Zikor. They lived it as parents. Their daughter, Karlina, lived it as a student in the class. This is what Karlina wrote about her experience:

Learning about Herb Brooks and the 1980 Olympic Team made me realize that through hard work, dedication and team work anything is possible. The values that I learned from that team, project and class will continue to stay with me. I hope one day into the future, to eventually pass on what I learned from that class to my children.

The references to the movie To Sir With Love worked for Gerry O’Donnell. “To Sir With Love was in my mind one of the best movies ever,” he wrote, “both from the acting standpoint but more importantly from the life lessons it taught… if you reached only 25% of the teachers in the room it will make this valley a better place!”

Sean McGrath liked the naturalization scenes included in the documentary Shanksville, Pa: A Place of Transformation. “I particularly thought about those people getting their citizenship. They beamed with glory – unlike the majority of Americans who were fortunate to be born American and miss the entire point!”

Skip Pulcrano, the coach of the cheerleading squad at North Plainfield High School, drove from New Jersey, to attend the lecture. He had several things to say about the presentation:

It was my pleasure to be there for such a great presentation. This was the first time I could actually just sit there and absorb and enjoy the moment.

I sincerely hope that all those in attendance, especially the young student teachers, adopt your words of truth and dignity, honestly spoken, and implement them into actions.

I think your presentation should be delivered to the entire faculty of the North Plainfield School District. We are always having teacher workshop days and incorporating your presentation would be a tremendous burst of motivation.

Thanks again for everything you and Kitch have done for our students and for the gift of such a wonderful presentation yesterday. You have our everlasting gratitude.

Joanne Chabalko, is the mother of a West Point graduate and the woman who introduced us to Emily Perez. She offered kind words about the presentation:

“When you showed Emily, I wanted to cry. Your work is more important than ever. I pray that you continue to be blessed with good health so you can continue your passion.”

Our friend, Connie Wynn, attended the lecture with her husband Joe. They arrived early and they stayed late. Connie gave Kitch a beautiful bouquet of roses to celebrate her victory over breast cancer, and Joe snapped a number of digital pictures of the event. Connie’s words and Joe’s pictures lifted our spirits. Their comments validated all of the time and energy we invested in the event.

“You certainly blessed all of us yesterday with your beautiful presentation. You gave your presentation with love and compassion and it’s so hard to find people who are compassionate about their work. This shows in each and every documentary that you both do. Don’t ever stop teaching.”

Several times during the presentation, my eyes and my heart connected with four former students who were in the room: Laura Haden, Joe Haberski, Bob Kalinowski and Shivaun O’Donnell.

During the Q&A, an education major from Wilkes told everyone in the room about her life as an Upward Bound student. She was quick to point out why she could relate to everything in the presentation. For an old teacher like me, it doesn’t get any better than that.

We went to Wilkes University on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon in April to deliver a lecture about experimental learning. We left the university with a wonderful portrait of America at its best.

It is a rich painting of young, aspiring teachers who were learning. It is a statement about experienced, compassionate and caring teachers like Judy and Bob Gardner who were teaching by example. It contains snapshots of a reunion with formers students like Laura, Bob, Shivaun and Joe, old friends like Connie, Joe, Virginia, John, Joanne and Gerry,heart relatives Anthony and Sean and new friends named Cartier, Jennifer, Kristen and Skip. They were there to encouraging an old teacher in a new classroom to do his best. Everyone was making the most of a priceless opportunity.

In room 214 on the second floor of the Marts Center, Kitch and I experienced the greatness of America. It is a moment from our Face of America journey that we will never forget.

Jason Genovese, one of our former students and now a college professor is right:

“Students become much more motivated and interested when they get invested in field-based projects…and that results in real learning.”

Mark Thackeray was right. Experiential learning at its best is teaching students how to be adults, and that includes teaching them courtesy, manners, standards and survival skills. It is encouraging them to reach up for the best edition of themselves.

Herb Brooks was right, “great moments are born from great opportunities.” That’s what we had on April 3, at Wilkes University.

Thank You, Judith,

Thank You, Bob,

Thank You, Friends, Former Students and Relatives,

Thank You, Wilkes University,

Thank You, America.

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