Michal Dzurňák (September 8, 1923, in Spišský Hrhov – March 1, 1994, in Levoča), was an important special pedagogue, director of the Apprentice School for Youth with Visual Impairment in Levoča. He founded the Museum of the Blind and the Museum of Special Education in Levoča.

This native of Levoča combined his special-pedagogical career with the Apprentice School for the Visually Impaired and with the Museum of Special Education in Levoča.

He graduated from the Teacher’s Academy in Spišská Nová Ves. In 1945-1951 he worked as a teacher at the National School in Beharovce, then at the Secondary School in Kuraľany (Levice district) and in Spišský Štvrtok, where he became the director after a year. The following year, he was appointed head of the ONV education department in Levoča. His further education was expanded by distance learning at the Faculty of Education in Košice (1960-1963), where he obtained a qualification in mathematics – physics – work in a workshop. He studied typhlopedia and special methodologies at the Faculty of Education, Comenius University in Bratislava.

He and his wife Elena (maiden name Chroma) raised two daughters Katarina and Elena and a son Michal.

After the death of Jozef Vrabel (1964), he took over the director’s position at the Apprentice School for the Visually Impaired in Levoča, where he remained for 20 years. He was responsible for the construction of a new school building. Its foundation stone was laid on November 15, 1968. The school was handed over for use on 12 November 1971. He promoted the school at home and abroad. He established the following educational disciplines: bookbinder, machine mechanic, and natural tissue processor. He organized international events aimed at improving the preparation of blind youth for life.

At the beginning of the ’70s, M. Dzurňák with MUDr. Alojz Rosina set out to work out the theoretical foundations and practical training of a new field of employment for the visually impaired – a masseur. They established a Medical-Vocational School for Youth with Visual Impairment with the support of the then director of the Secondary Medical School in Levoča, Ladislav Sivák. It was active throughout the then Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. The first students started in the school year 1972/73.

Later, he came up with the idea of ​​collecting historical teaching aids and documents of the school for the blind. He transformed the idea into reality and founded the Museum of the Blind (1974). It was located in the reconstructed historical premises of the shooting bastion in Levoča. M. Dzurňák sought to expand the thematic scope of the collection, which was successful.

The unique Museum of the Blind maintained its first place until November 1990, when it disappeared due to the unsuitability of the bastion premises and poor accessibility. M. Dzurňák and O. Tinajová made great efforts to acquire the premises of a burgher house on Námestie Majstra Pavla 28. The Museum of Special Education in Levoča has been housed here since 16 November 1990. Already as an active retiree, he helped profile the content focus and activities of the museum.

Múzeum špeciálneho školstva

He also worked as an external teacher at the Faculty of Education in Trnava in 1984-86. He lectured here methodologies of vocational subjects and vocational training for workshop teachers of vocational schools.

He was a member of several expert commissions (content reconstruction and a new concept of special schools at the Ministry of Education, Association of people with disabilities, etc.). After the establishment of the Society for Special and Therapeutic Education in Slovakia, he was an active member and participated in the organization of several international conferences and symposia.

from left: Jozef Milčák – director of the primary school for the blind in Levoča, Miloslav Sojka – director of the Blind Printing and Library in Prague and Michal Dzurňák – former director of the Secondary School for the Visually Impaired in Levoča
from left: Juraj Mráz – former director of ZDŠI for the blind in Levoča, Michal Dzurňák, Branislav Mamojka – chairman of ÚNSS in Bratislava

If you remember the teacher Michal Dzurňák, you worked under his guidance, he was your colleague or friend, share your memories and send them by e-mail to the museum address: mss.levoca@gmail.com

We collect materials and prepare a publication about important personalities of special education in Slovakia.

Author: Štefánia Petreková

Source: Archive of the Museum of Special Education in Levoča