Vera Corda [1913-2002] had successful careers in ballet, graphic arts design, nursing, and teaching before beginning her pioneering work in early childhood education and family development. As an artist, she illustrated children’s books with watercolors, designed and silk-screened scarf designs, and studied dance with Ruth St. Denis. She devoted her later years to her work as an educator and spiritual counselor. One of her greatest contributions was as a spiritual guide to parents and children. Beginning her training in the care and education of young children at the age of ten at the innovative Canon Kip Nursery School in the south-of-Market area of San Francisco, she went on to receive an Associate degree in the field of graphic arts at the age of sixteen. She later received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and completed a Master of Arts degree in the Education of Exceptional Children at the University of California at San Francisco. While receiving additional training at Columbia University in New York, she studied with the leading pediatric specialist, Arnold Gesell. She was a Joel Katz Memorial Scholar at Columbia Pacific University, where she earned a Ph.D. degree in guidance and counseling.
Dr. Vera Corda taught in the public schools for fifteen years and held a lifetime teaching credential in California. Early in her career she worked at the San Francisco Youth Guidance Center and at Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, where she employed art therapy techniques with at-risk young people. She was also a registered nurse and practiced psychiatric nursing at DeWitt State Hospital in Auburn, California. In addition she was also a practicing healer in the Sufi Order, the Sufi Ruhaniat Society, and the Order of St. Luke.
Murshida Vera Corda was a Sufi disciple for over fifty years and was given the title of Murshida, or spiritual teacher, when she began guiding other disciples in the Sufi tradition. During the early seventies she founded the New Age Seed Schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, based on the teachings of the Sufi master, Hazrat Inayat Khan. She developed a complete curriculum from infancy through elementary school and trained teachers and parents in the spiritual, intellectual, social, physical, and moral development of children. After retiring from full-time teaching, Murshida Vera Corda tutored children with special learning needs at her home in the Salinas Valley. She continued to travel and teach until she left the body on April 7, 2002. Her work lives on in those whose lives she touched.