Schools of Thought

Or vice versa, actually.
We have been talking about school memories this week and boy, mine are generally not happy ones. I won’t dwell on it or bore you and I am not looking for sympathy. I was a shy, over-achiever in a strict elementary school, and I was often ill. Later on, we had extensive family problems and my teen years were spent dealing with my dysfunctional family and other people’s problems…and washing my nieces’ diapers.
I will say that I do have one heck of a story but I’m not sure that I can tell it to you. Several years ago after I started writing again in earnest, I read an article in USA Weekend Magazine that asked for like stories and knew I had a perfect one for them. They had posted the address of the writer’s blog and asked for submissions to be made there. I posted it and they loved it, so much so that a USA editor emailed me several times about a follow-up article featuring me and the other person in the story, an old schoolmate. (It involved her late mother as well, a teacher of mine.) Unfortunately, the follow-up article was killed. I never remember when it is convenient to look up the writer and the blog to get my story back. It is a “Chicken Soup” quality story if there ever was one, and I’d love for you to read it. Hopefully, you will be able to sometime.

(If I sound like I have had a hard life I can only say it has been interesting. When I had a rare medical problem, I told the doctor that the words “average” and “normal” have never been applied to me. But I think, well, maybe that is conducive to writing. My life hasn’t really been exactly Dickensian, but I’ve had a number of ‘times and troubles”.What doesn’t kill you can still wear you down, yet I know I have become far more understanding. And  a bit of ill health helped Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Louis Stevenson’s work, I’m sure.)

One of my favorite school stories is amusing, and possibly inspirational, although the beginning may not seem so; (bear with me).
When we were married my husband was teaching in a small, private, religious academy. We went through many trials for years and a few times the school was miraculously resurrected, but the last year it failed completely and would have closed mid-year but for the tenacity of some of the staff members. Bad managing, outright fraud and deadbeat parents ruined the place financially. Several teachers seized funds and some left as all were behind in being paid. My husband was one of the those who got totally shifted,(five months’ pay worth). However, he and a couple of others had side jobs and until the end of the school term he continued teaching because he was afraid that other schools might not accept all of his senior student’s credits, and he was determined that they should graduate. He had genuine affection for them and a few of them he had put extra time and effort into for years, ever since he had been the teacher for their fifth grade geography class. We lost a number of students, but a surprising number remained, their families faithful to what the school had meant to them for years,(and I suppose some with false hope that it could bounce back once more).
On the night of graduation, what remained of the polarized Board of Directors and Staff gathered with parents, family, friends and a few prestigious guests, including a retired bishop. The man was all that one should be able to expect, but we don’t always get. He knew the problems and he made an effort to be inspirational, warm, encouraging and a peacemaker. But at the end, as he stood and gazed at the graduating class seated in cap and gown in the front row, he looked to student strategically placed in the middle. He said, “They say no man is an island, but I am not sure that that isn’t true of Michael Frances Park!”*
Indeed, he praised “Michael” as a brave young man to stick out the year as the last remaining male member of his class.
I pray that the fellow has remained as self-confident and steadfast through the passing years into adulthood.

[* The name has been changed.]


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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13 Responses to Schools of Thought

  1. jeff7salter says:

    Sorry to learn that your life has had so many troubles. It takes an enterprising and postive spirit to rise above such circumstances.
    Congrats to your husband for his dedication in remaining on (unpaid) duty through that year so those kids could receive what they’d worked for. (The kids bore no responsibility for the decline of that school and, thankfully, your hubby & a few other teachers recognized that and made the sacrifices necessary to let them graduate.


  2. Thanks,Jeff.I have always been proud of my husband’s ethics, one of the traits I married him for.I can’t say it wasn’t a sacrifice and struggle; money was more than tight,I can tell you.(One of the families would bring us groceries!)
    My life has formed me and as I get older,I see that there may well be a PLAN in all this and I am pleased that I learned a few lessons on the way.(Don’t ask me if I would chose to do it all again,though!)
    I thought the “no man is an island” quote was too good not to tell.


  3. Iris B says:

    So sorry to hear about your difficult upbringing, but you obviously rose (sp?)to the occasion and conquered life.
    Congratulations and admiration to your husband to stick by the school and students. Truly wonderful story!


  4. I too am sorry to hear of your difficult growing up-you have the grace and strength that was never diminished! Good for you and hubs ethics, too. Very admirable!


  5. Sorry ,People! I didn’t realize that I came off sounding so pathetic.I will try to avoid needing violins in the background from now on!


  6. jeff7salter says:

    I thought the bishop’s remark was clever and touching at the same time.
    And I think it was quite appropriate to make note of the sole male in the group. Surely, it was a clear symbol of what the school had been through. And he did it in a positive way … still managing to make it humorous.


    • Yes, Jeff, thanks, that’s what I meant.It was a real show of character for the boy to stay and not be intimidated or embarrassed.(He was a good kid; planned on going into the Air Force…I hope the Force was with him!!!)


      • jeff7salter says:

        I bet he had no shortage of dating prospects either …


      • You know, Jeff, they were all so much like family by then,I think he brought an ‘outside’ girl in for the prom!
        We only had a couple of matches made through the school, although sometimes people married siblings of their classmates.Big city, [Denver],small world!


  7. Micki Gibson says:

    Wow. I’m not surprised that some teachers (including your husband) stuck it out with little or no pay because no one goes into the teaching profession for all the big bucks. They do it for the kids and because they love teaching. Still, major kudos to all who persevered!


    • Thanks,Micki; I wasn’t looking for praise,( but THANKS, All!) I wanted to explain why it was such a show of strength for the boy to be there, not like it was a tiny town and he was the only boy in that age group. Since we’ve gotten this far into it, though, I can’t tell you how many people thought my husband was a fool and me ‘abused’ for letting him stick it out…and I can’t tell you how very , very few seemed to appreciate what he, (we), sacrificed to get through those months.[The “Board of (Mis)Directors” would not let the remaining teachers be presented with certificates of appreciation at graduation from the few parents who cared.But that is enough whinging from me!]


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