Graduation, Augustana College, 1943
Included in my piles of old photographs were one pose of my mother, captioned "Co-ed, 1931" and another marked "Augustana graduation, 1943."
My mother began teaching by attending a normal school (teacher's college) for one year at Normal, Illinois. She taught all-ages in one-room country schools and took courses at Augustana College.
The twelve-year span between starting school and finishing a degree is a measure of how difficult things were during the Great Depression.
My mother was devoted to teaching and loved her students. She was at Garfield first thing in the morning, long before anyone else. She took a nap in the nurse's office each day, with permission from the principal. Some teachers told on her, so he replied, "If you came as early as Gladys and stayed as late as she did, you could all take naps every day too."
I grew up with kids introducing themselves to me by saying, "I had your mother as my teacher! She was the best one I ever had!" My mother was the rock star of teaching. She went to night school to get a master's plus, and that included stints at the University of Illinois, summer school.
She also taught Sunday School without complaint. Vacation Bible School - she was glad to teach there, too.
I had my mother as a teacher only in English class, due to nepotism rules, but she was my teacher at home. She kept the house stocked with books for all ages. Although I was ejected outdoors to play, I never lacked for reading material. The small library at Garfield was handy for those extra hours I spent at Garfield. Many children's classics were kept there or in individual classrooms.
My mother had a positive, can-do attitude about everything. Ornery students were simply kids with great potential and a need for a few head-raps and phonetic reading lessons. The knuckle-raps were rare, but never withheld when needed. She never tired of learning more so she could teach better. And she graded papers all the time, relentlessly.
"Be quiet, I am grading papers."
"I am grading papers."
The other teachers in the Moline system met high standards too. They prepared us well for college. We had, in effect, private school quality and safety we took for granted.
I tell people about MHS graduation rehearsal, when someone smarted off to the vice-principal. Everyone saw the vp grab the boy by his shirt and say, "Don't talk like that to me." Halos appeared above 750 heads as we became silent and attentive.