advisor, Arthur Hill High School, Saginaw
The handicaps of 91-1/2 years precluded former student and life-long friend, Edmund C. Arnold, from digging out details from Mattie Gay Crump’s 41 years teaching English and journalism at Arthur Hill High School in Saginaw, he wrote. Yet he sought to honor her:
“She was more than a teacher, she was a superb mentor and a cherished friend to her students,” Arnold wrote, noting Crump died in 1983 at age 86. “She was always willing to help younger teachers, and her influence in scholastic journalism was great. It always amazed me that she knew the students’ children and often grandchildren.”
Arnold called her a legend at a 1976 tribute honoring her lifelong labors with the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association. “She was just a hard taskmaster, the enforcer of sacred deadlines and a grammarian who would not tolerate the slightest laxity in writing. We got mad at her, we laughed at her, we sulked, we shared our dreams and our frustrations and we worked our tails off for her.”
Crump’s publication, the Arthur Hill News, was recognized as one of the finest newspapers in the nation in 1927 one year after she started as adviser. She helped the students win the Quill & Scroll George H. Gallup Award, along with the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Medalist Award and the National Scholastic Press Association All-American Award.
During the summer when school was not in session, Crump could be found teaching journalism workshops throughout North America. She encouraged students to take chances and face up to the consequences. She vigorously campaigned for free speech.
“Frankly, she may have been the first adviser in Michigan to allow her students to write stories that some thought were negative or would harm the school,” said Robert L. Button, assistant director of the Virginia High School League, Inc., in his nominating letter. “She was always there explaining that if it’s the truth, if it’s fair and if it’s well done, then it has every right to be in a good, responsible student publication.”