Our Country School Teachers

From what I remember, Mrs. Hopkins was my first-grade teacher. Her teaching style is a bit fuzzy in my memory, but I can see her physical image even now. Her facial features are no longer clear (as the years have clouded my memory), but she was tall, slim, dark complexion and had a kind, sweet demeanor. I remember seeing her after she left our school. Sometimes, we would run into her up town, and she still remembered us.

This woman wasn’t from our community. Come to think of it, our community didn’t produce any school teachers. They all came from some place else. In later years, some of the older students in our school did go on to college and become school teachers.

Mrs. Yerger taught the older class while Mrs. Hopkins taught first through third grades. When I was in Mrs. Smith’s class, my older brother and sister (not twins) were in Mrs. Yerger’s class, but before I reached her class, she and Mrs. Hopkins were replaced by Mrs. Smith (my teacher) and Miss Holt (my brother and sister’s teacher). We pronounced her last name “Hope,” but I’m almost sure it was Holt. I was a student both in Mrs. Smith’s and Miss Hope’s class.

Southern (and especially) country people have a way of changing anything that doesn’t fit with the way their tongue forms words. The name has to be convenient to the lips, pleasant to the ears or familiar to its surroundings, so, if it takes too long to pronounce or if it’s just downright too difficult to say, then, we change it “to suit our fancy.” In school though, we called our teachers “Miss Teacher.” That was simple and easy to say … and respectful and acceptable, too.

Mrs. Smith replaced Mrs. Hopkins. Then, female school teachers could not become parents (at least not while they were teaching), and as far as I know, none of our teachers ever had children. Pregnant women could not teach in the classroom. I guess they can today, but then, they couldn’t.

Mrs. Smith is the teacher who gave me “my most disappointing childhood gift.” She was a sweetheart, and even after I was grown, I would visit her and her husband. She never had children. Her smile was so gentle and sincere. She was kind and patient with all of us, and we just loved her to death.

I don’t remember that much about Mrs. Yerger’s personality except she was pleasant and not as stern as a teacher should have been. She was replaced by Miss Hope who was intellectually bright but a no-nonsense person.

Whenever I think about her, it’s always funny, because she is the one who beat the school bullies into submission. The first day she came, these guys came to “try out” the new teacher. She reached behind that blackboard, pulled out that big, thick paddle and whipped them to a frazzle. Then she told them in no uncertain terms, “I’m now the one in charge here … not you.” And for now, I’ll leave that alone, lest the bullies come across my blog and …

I’ll blog about Miss Hope later, because she’s the teacher I would spend nights with.

Published on Nov 12, 2013

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