Charles J. Schiller ’51

2001 Distinguished Citizen Award

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Charles Schiller is now retired after a 35-year career as a high school English teacher, but his influence continues in the students he nurtured. Macalester English Professor Emerita Patricia Lanegran Kane ’47 called him “a teacher in the grand tradition for his high school students and at times for the larger community,” and said his years of “conscientiousness and creative instruction in his English classroom have earned him the respect and admiration of students and their parents.”

At Macalester, he met his future wife, Janine Smith Schiller ’51, in a Little Theater production of Julius Caesar. After service in the Air Force and working in Japan, he and Janine moved to California, where he spent nearly all his teaching career and earned an M.A. in English. During his tenure at Laguna Beach, he and Janine regularly took his students to London for a week of theater during spring break, showing them that an education doesn’t end in school.

Schiller was a pioneer in introducing his students to minority writers and what is now called a multicultural perspective. Inspired by Macalester Professor Mary Gwen Owen, he directed a “Drama Choros” of high school students, who performed widely in California. As a presenter at state and national English conventions, his topics ranged from Shakespeare to multicultural writers. A believer in the integration of the arts into the English curriculum, he related gallery exhibits, opera and ballet music, guest artists and theater attendance to the literature he taught.

Upon his retirement, Charles Schiller was honored with the Southland California “Living Tree Award” for his contribution to the teaching of English.