As the oldest of seven children, George Affeldt Jr. grew up in home full of books and reading in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. And when he wanted to choose a career, he chose teaching because “teachers have to keep learning.”
“I’m a lifelong learner,” says Affeldt, who earned his undergraduate degree from the UW–Madison School of Education in 1968.
After four decades in education, Affeldt retired in 2011. He still lives in a home surrounded by books, and he continues to learn and teach. He is a docent at both Ten Chimneys and the Milwaukee Art Museum, and enjoys sharing his knowledge about art and the lives of Ten Chimneys founders Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. He also is a tutor at Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School in Milwaukee.
“I see the importance of education,” Affeldt says from his condominium home in Milwaukee, where he still has a book he was given for Christmas in the early 1960s.
Affection for UW–Madison runs deep in the Affeldt family. George’s grandfather and father both graduated from the Law School there, and his parents met at the university as well. Of the seven children, only one did not earn at least a certificate from UW–Madison. When Affeldt’s grandfather died, George’s family established a scholarship in the Law School.
After his parents died, the adult Affeldt children decided to add their father’s name to the scholarship at the Law School with a contribution from the estate. Then George got thinking that his mother also should be honored at UW–Madison.
Affeldt chose to honor his mother with a gift to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), which is housed in the School of Education.
“Mom loved to read,” he recalls. “We would come home from school and she would be reading.”
Her degree was in history, and she read a lot of historical fiction.
“I gave the gift because of her love of books,” he says. Some of the other Affeldt children have made gifts to the fund, too. “She cared about the university and we thought she should be honored as well.”
The CCBC provides teaching, learning, and research related to children’s and young adult literature, and is a source of information not only for students, but for teachers, librarians, and researchers. The CCBC produces an annual report examining diversity in children’s and young adult literature, and has published an annotated list of books, called “CCBC Choices,” since 1982.
The Nancy Fellenz Affeldt Director’s Fund at the CCBC is helping publicize the former and create a database of the latter. “With limited discretionary funding, this gift gives the CCBC opportunity to be flexible and create new initiatives,” says K.T. Horning, CCBC director.
“This is exactly the kind of thing we’re happy to help support,” Affeldt says.
During his career, Affeldt often taught in teams of teachers. Two faculty members for his master’s degree at UW–Eau Claire had earned their doctorates with Professor Herbert Klausmeier, who was a founding co-director of what is now the Wisconsin Center for Education Research in the School of Education. Klausmeier also is the person who conceived of Individually Guided Education (IGE), the focus of much of Affeldt’s career. The two faculty members, Lloyd Joyal — who chaired Affeldt’s master’s thesis committee — and Juanita Sorenson were “the nation’s leaders about teaching in teams and individualizing instruction,” Affeldt says.
This degree suited his passion of working with gifted children and keeping those students challenged.
His parents modeled giving, Affeldt says. “Dad really gave a message about giving, time and talent, in addition to resources.”