Martin Henley was born in New London, Connecticut where his father, John, served as an instructor at the Coast Guard Academy. After World War II his family moved to Syracuse, New York. He and his siblings Judy and John grew up in a middle-class Irish and Italian neighborhood during what today sometimes seems like the “idyllic” 1950’s.
In 1966 he graduated from the State University at Oswego, N.Y. with a B.A. in history. Subsequently, Henley joined the Navy and served in Vietnam aboard an ammunition ship, U.S.S Mauna Loa. After an honorable discharge, he taught in urban schools for several years. His passion for teaching inner-city youth led him to a federally funded M.Ed. program for teaching disadvantaged students. After graduation from Syracuse University, he taught special education for two years. Administrative positions followed, first as a Head Start Director and then principal of an inclusive school for students with autism.
After earning a Ph.D. in special education, he accepted a tenure-track position at Westfield State University, Westfield, Massachusetts. During his 31 years at Westfield State, he served as director of special education programs, head of the university honors program, and chairman of the Education Department. He retired in 2009 as professor emeritus, and since that time he continues to teach online courses at WSU on classroom management and special education. Although he has authored several books about teaching at-risk youth, the narrative non-fiction Scoundrels Who Made America Great is his first history book.
He resides in Westfield, Massachusetts with his partner Patricia Montagna. His daughter, Margaret, a social worker lives nearby. Presently, he is researching and writing a new book: Champlain – The Lake that Shaped a Nation.