On Jim Frey and his legacy: A 40th anniversary Frey Day tribute

Giving thanks!

At ECE, we have our own special holiday. Every year we celebrate Frey Day, a day off on the Friday following Thanksgiving. The day honors the legacy of our founder, Jim Frey. He created a company that continues to grow and succeed decades later. Frey Day is a day for us to spend with our families. But it is also a day to reflect on our work. 

Thanksgiving wreath image
We celebrate the collective efforts of the ECE staff who prepare quality reports year-round and offer exemplary customer service along the way. Our evaluators also rely on our colleagues in the IT, scanning, and mail departments as well as everyone else who goes into the office to support all of us at home. They have been our foundation during this pandemic. We couldn’t help our customers without the team effort. In this pandemic year, during our 40th anniversary month, we can’t help but be thankful to be able to continue our important work.

Jim's legacy lives on

ECE is a little bit younger than me, but, with 15 years of experience with the company, I am still a novice. The collective number of evaluation years represented by the evaluation staff is staggering, and the institutional memory is rich. Even though Jim retired years ago, his legacy lives on in our library, our policies, and even in our attitudes. For example, we take our non-profit status very seriously and offer a public service feature through The Connection platform to help educate others. The Connection is only the most recent iteration and we are happy to share it along with our expertise with our friends around the world. 

As we are working from home, we treasure our print resources more dearly than ever, relying on our librarian to scan the needed items. When Jim retired, his books were distributed amongst the evaluation staff. I know I have used some of his books over the past few months. And every time I do, I appreciate that he saw ECE as a knowledge company. 

ECE library photo

Our library is an invaluable resource and part of its strength comes from the priority it has been given over time. We have always subscribed to electronic resources and collected new books. We have a great deal of freedom to request and then obtain specific titles. We possess immense historical depth. When someone at ECE writes a publication, their research materials end up in the library. I love finding handwritten notes in the margins of old resources, from Jim or another evaluator. Sometimes we ask where a grading scale conversion came from and find the original 1986 decision penciled in a book. These are valuable resources. And these institutional ways of being trace back to Jim. We are grateful today for his foresight back then. They will serve us well for at least another 40 years.

Excerpt from a publication with Jim's penciled-in notes

Applause, please!

The original idea was to interview Jim for the anniversary. We wanted to ask him about the past, and maybe even the future. Then something happened to surprise us all. Jim Frey was recognized as one of the inaugural members of the TAICEP Hall of Acclaim. In addition to recognizing a lifetime of contributions to the credential evaluation field, the Hall of Acclaim will also act as a digital repository of relevant content generated by the person over their career. I love this idea for Jim because a lot of his content over time is in a physical form and a physical place – the books and other materials in the ECE library. But some of it is with us. I know I have a folder in my filing cabinet labeled Portugal. Inside is a typed manuscript on the educational system of Portugal with a cover letter dated 1990, along with lots of fun research materials from the time period. Jim had been working on a publication and it never came together. But I have used the details in that manuscript more than a few times to help me do evaluations. 

I hope that we can get some of this great content out of our filing cabinets and share it with everyone, especially TAICEP members. It is a testament to his legacy. And the awards ceremony gave everyone a chance to see him and cheer him. I was so happy for him. 

List of contents from Jim's Portugal manuscript

Enjoying retirement

As we planned to do a video chat, it became clear that Jim is retired now. He already put in the hard work years ago and doesn’t want to take credit for current successes. As technology advances, the daily job we do grows more removed from his professional experience. And that’s okay. We let him off the hook. The Hall of Acclaim awards ceremony was enough. 

Jim Frey posing for a picture somewhere in Milwaukee

On this 40th anniversary Frey Day, we can reflect upon our collective hard work over the years. We have all pored over old print resources or struggled to find something online. We have all tried to help a colleague with a tricky credential. And we have all gone out of our way to help one of our customers because we respect their human dignity. This is us living Jim’s legacy. May we continue to do so for years to come.  

Watch the celebration

With that said, join us in congratulating Jim on his lifetime of achievements! Watch the video from Jim’s recent award. We are all so proud of him! 

See also:

Martha Van Devender is a Senior Evaluator and has been with ECE since 2005. She specializes in education from Anglophone Africa and Latin America. She is also interested in online research and verification tools. 



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