As a student at Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ, Conrad Schmitt ’58 was certain that he would someday become a foreign language teacher. He began to consider colleges he would like to attend. Among them were a few well known liberal arts colleges as well as Montclair State.
“Growing up in North Jersey I was well aware of Montclair State’s reputation for training excellent foreign language teachers. So why not go to Montclair? But what if someday I decided that I didn’t want to teach? After quite a few sleepless nights mulling over such thoughts, I came to a conclusion. I decided to give Montclair State a try”.
After a few months at Montclair State, Schmitt knew that he had made the right move. The language courses were superb and his professors were excellent. He was also able to benefit from the broadness of the general education requirements. Schmitt says the courses he took in science, math, English, history, art, music and education served him well throughout his entire career.
Schmitt began his career as a Spanish teacher in Toms River High School. He also taught in Hackensack Junior High School and in his alma mater, Columbia High School. One day much to his surprise he received a phone call from the Hackensack Superintendent of Schools. He asked Schmitt if he would like to come for an interview for the position of coordinator of languages for the entire school district. Of course, he answered in the affirmative and was thrilled and honored shortly thereafter to be offered the position at the age of 26. Schmitt says it was one of the most rewarding experiences in his life.
Schmitt had begun to write and seek publication of his material while still teaching. He never realized how difficult it would be to ever have the material published. Well, it happened! McGraw Hill offered him a contract to publish two four-book series — one in Spanish and another in French. After much work with his editors, another eye-opening experience, the books were published and fortunately, they were quite successful. Soon afterward McGraw Hill offered Schmitt a position with the company as an editor and sales consultant which he accepted with the proviso that he would be able to continue to author material. Thus began a wonderful career in publishing with many more books to follow.
He continued to author or co-author some 250 text or reference books over his long publishing career which has still not ended. The fifth edition of one of his books was just published with a 2021 copyright. Among his co-authors were fellow Montclair State alumni Jo Helstrom ’45 ’48MA, Randall G. Marshall ’50 and Protase E. Woodford ’57 ’62 MA.
As a real “aficionado” of languages and other cultures, Schmitt has always been an avid traveler. His travel for business, research and pleasure has taken him to every state in the United States and 112 countries around the world as well as Antarctica.
Schmitt has watched Montclair State grow over the years and he is delighted to see that the University’s commitment to providing a well-rounded undergraduate and graduate education is as strong as ever. Montclair State’s mission to provide access to higher education has never wavered. “Nor have the demographics of Montclair State changed much since I attended,” he observes. “As in the past, many of the undergraduates are the proud “firsts” in their families to attend college and most need financial help to earn their degree.”
Schmitt is eager to help these hardworking students realize their dreams. He has for many years contributed generously to ensure that Montclair State students today have the same opportunities that he had. Schmitt has included the University in his estate plans, a move that will ensure the financial accessibility of a college education at Montclair State University.
“At Montclair State, I was able to practice the University’s motto “Carpe Diem.” I seized the day and had the opportunity to earn an education that prepared me for a successful lifelong career,” he says. “Now I want to give that chance to others.”