Though many people see Marie Jean Sloan’s most impressive achievement as earning two degrees within one week of each other-a doctorate from Wayne State University on June 9, 1966, and a Juris Doctor degree from Detroit College of Law on June 13 — she says that isn’t necessarily the accomplishment of which she is most proud.
“To live life every day in a way that is pleasing to God, and the contributions I have made in the lives of young people, that is what I am most proud of,” she said.
After graduating from Marygrove College in 1954, Sloan taught in the Detroit public school system for three years while pursuing a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from Wayne State University. Then she took a leave of absence from Detroit to teach elementary school in Aschaffenburg, Germany, for one year. During this time Sloan traveled extensively in Europe and in the Near and Middle East.
Upon her return to the Detroit schools, Sloan taught elementary school for five years, junior high for one year, high school for one year, and substitute taught for two years while she attended classes for her doctorate and her law degree. Her last assignment in the Detroit Public Schools was as assistant principal at Peck Elementary.
In 1967 Sloan moved to Washington, D. C., after accepting a position as a researcher and writer at the U.S. Office of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics, Higher Education Branch. This position allowed Sloan to use her Ed.D. and J.D. degrees as well as all of her other experiences.
While there she published a statistical report entitled: Associate Degrees and Other Formal Awards Below the Baccalaureate 1965-1966 and 1966-1967. She also wrote for the National Education Association legal publications and taught graduate education classes part-time at the Catholic University of America.
After her marriage in 1969, Sloan accepted a position with the Flint Community Schools as an instructional specialist. In 1972 she became an elementary school administrator in the Flint Public Schools.
In 1975 she became the first administrator in the Durand Area Schools to have earned a doctorate. She served in various administrative positions for the next 22 years and retired from Durand in 1997.
Challenging jobs and a zealous pursuit of her own education did not stop Sloan from contributing to her community as well. The League of Women Voters, Brownson Guild, the American Association of University Women, St. Sylvester’s Board of Education and the City of Detroit Coordinating Council on Human Relations all reaped the rewards of her contributions.
While at Marygrove Sloan was active in the Social Action Group which was involved in the religious education of public school students. After graduation she continued to be active in CCD teaching at St. Sylvester’s in Warren, Michigan. When she moved to Durand, Michigan, she continued her CCD work and became the coordinator of the religious education program for high school students at St. Mary’s in Durand.
One of Sloan’s long-term community service efforts has been the preservation and restoration of the 100-year-old Durand Union Station, and she was the first president of the Board of Directors of the Durand Railroad Historical Museum. She also prepared the Durand Area Bicentennial publication, Heritage 1976.
Of all of the awards and contributions Sloan has earned in her career-and there have been many-she says, “This award gave me goosebumps because it came from Marygrove. I am proud to be a Marygrove alumna. I still have a Marygrove window decal on my car,” she said.
“Make every day as productive as you can,” she continued. “Being a success at the expense of somebody else is no success at all.”