It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Dr. Gordon F. Vars, a lifelong middle level education leader and friend of the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE). Dr. Vars helped form the Midwest Middle School Association, which in 1973 became the National Middle School Association, now AMLE. Vars was the first president of NMSA. Vars is survived by his wife, Alice McVetty-Vars.
Dr. Vars was on the writing team for the first edition of This We Believe, published in 1982, and helped draft the first national standards for middle level teacher preparation. He was a prolific author and frequent conference presenter.
He served our country in World War II and when he returned to the states he attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and then earned his master's degree at The Ohio State University. After graduation, Vars took teaching positions in Maryland and Tennessee.
He earned his doctorate from George Peabody College of Education in Nashville, TN, then joined the Cornell University faculty. In 1966 he joined the Kent State University faculty and retired as Professor Emeritus after decades of dedication to middle level education with particular focus on core curriculum.
A recipient of many awards, Dr. Vars received the highest honor from AMLE, the John H. Lounsbury Distinguished Service Award in 1987.
Nancy Poliseno, current president of AMLE, fondly remembers Vars, "Gordon was not only my professor at Kent State University, he was my student teaching advisor and my friend. Gordon saw a teacher in me from my first days in education. We stayed in touch over the years and I continued to learn from him as well as enjoy conversations about adolescent dilemmas. Middle level education lost a great advocate when we lost Gordon, but his impact will live on through the many who knew him and the research he accomplished."