A native of Fredonia and a graduate of Fredonia State College, Katherine Schuler began her Hamburg teaching career in 1940. She was in charge of vocal and choral music, grades 1— 12. Miss Schuler, in addition to directing the regular choruses, formed a girls’ septet and elementary boys’ choir, continuing to build the mixed and a cappella choirs. After centralization, she worked in the junior high, starting a Select Choir, and in 1970, moved to the high school and formed a Madrigal Group. These ensembles performed in school concerts, for community groups, and area music contests. In 1974, the Madrigals sang at the NYSSMA All-State Festival in Kiamesha Lake, NY. She married Homer Fiero in 1946. For three summers, she earned credits toward her Masters Degree while her husband was finishing his Masters at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. For many years she participated as an active member of the Erie Count-v. Music Educators’ Association and was Chairperson of the All-State Chorus in 1976. Mrs. Fiero was an excellent music teacher and insisted on the use of solid vocal techniques. Total dedication, amazing energy and a spirit of joy and caring were the hallmarks of her decades of teaching. As one student so aptly wrote on a picture he gave to her, “To the greatest teacher, advisor, “mother”, friend, and person I have ever known, I’ll love you always.” She desired above all that her students learn valuable singing skills and enjoy the process. Mrs. Katherine Schuler Fiero will long be remembered in the hearts of those who knew her as teacher, mentor and friend.
Homer Fiero was born in Canandaigua, NY. His mother played piano, and had him take both piano and clarinet, taking him to Rochester for lessons with a Philharmonic clarinetist. He received a B.S. in Music from Ithaca College, and a Master of Music from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 1945, Mr. Fiero came to Hamburg, hired to build up the band program. He recruited new members from older elementary students through high school grades. During his first year of teaching, the band doubled its membership. Under his able leadership, the band continued to receive superior ratings at music contests, year after year. He initiated West Point-style uniforms, and baton and flag twirlers for the marching band, which participated in football games and town parades. His great love for the harp led him to begin a Harp Program, including the purchase of a harp for school use. He also was Director of the Kingsmen Drum and Bugle Corp for some years. He had a keen interest in each of his students, gladly giving extra lessons when needed. In addition, he had -a gift of transmitting tremendous enthusiasm and appreciation for music to them. Those who continued on with music as a career said they did so due to his encouragement and belief in them. He arose each day excited about teaching music. This man truly made a difference in the lives of his students as well as those who knew him personally, leaving a lasting legacy of music in the Hamburg Schools.
Lillian Brand was a pioneer in early childhood education in New York and a passionate advocate for children and their families. She was well-known to legislators and state education officials in Albany from her many trips there to press for funding and expansion of early childhood education. As director of the Pre-K program, she supervised her staff as she did her students in her classroom, respecting and identifying strengths of each one, and helping them to grow and learn to be the best they could be. As a result, the Hamburg Pre-K program was recognized as a model program by the state Education department. Her consultant work helped to expand the prekindergarten program in other districts throughout the state. Lillian’s role expanded as she was given the task to facilitate the move to full day kindergarten and literacy instruction through grade 2. Her work with staff continued her early childhood philosophy through the early grades. The ultimate professional, Lillian’s personal and professional life overlapped. She served her community in many ways, whether it was facilitating parenting classes, or encouraging literacy enrichment or serving on special committees to address community concerns. She always accepted the requests to be part of those committees. Her respect for young children and their families and her ability to empower each, was her life’s work.
My teaching career began in Hamburg in 1970 after graduating from SUNY Brockport. I completed a dual certification program earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Health Education teaching certificate. Continuing my professional growth, I earned a Master’s degree in Physical education with an emphasis in Athletic Training from Canisius College. During the same period of time I completed certification requirements for NYS Department of Health, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, Senior EMT Instructor and Basic EMT prehospital care provider status.
From 1970 to 1985 I taught Health Education to seventh, eighth, and ninth graders in a team teaching situation. The EMT program began during the ’79-’80 school year. The EMT course is a school to work program that offered students opportunities to market themselves to the medical and allied health fields. The EMT program continued to grow with the support of the community and the entire Hamburg Fire/EMS District to the point that the majority of my teaching was with the EMT classes. The EMT Department at Erie Community College continued the support of the High School program as the NYS course sponsor.
In conjunction with my teaching responsibilities I served on the District Comprehensive Health Curriculum Committee, District Health Council, Community Intervention Programs, Drug Free Prom celebrations, Co-advisor to SAAD activities, School wide Health fairs, and volunteered call time with Boston Emergency Squad.
I have been fortunate enough to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in Health Education from NYSAHPERD in 1997, the EMS Educator of Excellence presented in 1999 by the NYS EMS Council, and Outstanding Service to the Community and the Students at Hamburg High School in 2000 from the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department. In 2005 I was made an honorary member of the Hamburg Fire Department.
I retired from Hamburg High in 2002 but have continued to substitute teach for and support the EMT program. As I continue to teach the EMT course at Erie Community College today, I find that students and their learning still make my day. My success is based on the success and growth of my students. I cherish the long term relationships I have enjoyed with them throughout the years.
Charles moved to Lancaster as a child and graduated from Lancaster High School in 1958. He attended Syracuse University majoring in Social Studies and graduated in 1962 with a BA and a MA in 1966. Upon graduation in 1962, he began his 38-year career in Hamburg.
While looking for his first job, he had scheduled interviews in Frontier and Orchard Park, and decided to stop in Hamburg and see if there were positions available. Given an appointment on the spot with Mr. Ravel, he was hired a few days later. It was his second year that convinced him that he had chosen the right profession. During his time in Hamburg, he taught Regents American History as well as senior electives in International Relations and American Politics. But his real love was when he had the opportunity to teach Advanced Placement US History which he taught from 1972 until he retired.
In addition to serving on a variety of curricular and school committees, he became involved in a variety of student activities. Among those, for 18 years he worked with Student Council where he helped students develop leadership skills and participate in opportunities that a good high school offers.
In retirement, he knew he would miss teaching but in a conversation with Dr. Roswell, superintendent then, Dr. Roswell encouraged him to substitute teach, something he always vowed he would never do. For several years he subbed in Hamburg and has continued to sub even after moving to Illinois. He still subs in his local high school district in suburban Chicago. He always enjoyed traveling and has done several long voyages to nearly all parts of the world, including four world cruises, two trips around South America and Antarctica and many visits to Europe.
That date, long ago, when he stopped at HHS and asked for the interview that provided his teaching job, changed his life. He is forever grateful to the Hamburg schools and community for the opportunity to live and work there with so many of the excellent students that it has produced. He will forever call Hamburg “home”.