The Paw Paw River Journal
Teaching young ladies A new semester starts and the teacher is confronted by classes of students. There is an awful temptation to view them as masses of people… sort of confusing at first. So then out of the 100-125 people to be taught, they can be sorted into all sorts of demographic groups… ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic circumstances, mental capability, emotional maturity, and finally whether they are boys or girls. This last division is the one I’d like to discuss today. I never tried to categorize my students, but as the year progressed they would sort themselves out. And I tried very hard never to treat them differently. There was always something a little special about the girls I’d meet in my classes. And I did have to treat them a little different physically. For instance, I made it a strict policy never ever to touch a girl student. Hard sometimes not to put a comforting arm around a suffering girl, or even give them a friendly pat to let them know I was there for them. No, I had to do it all with words. And perhaps those parameters made me become more skillful using words to help them. Large city high school, and I was an almost new teacher there. I had several 9th grade classes. That means the kids were all in the throes of puberty. Growing pains… too old to cry and too young to swear. Desperately trying to be cool and not knowing how to do it! And I had one girl who was a real trial. She evidently had many problems at home, and would act out her frustrations in school… especially in my class. Now, mind you, I felt I could not touch her. One day I just had it with her shenanigans, and I told her to pack up her books and leave class. This was a desperate measure, and one I did not use often. Any teacher should be able to deal with most of his/her problems. In this case the girl just gripped the arms on her desk chair and said, “No! I ain’t going to leave!” Her jaw was set at a determined angle… so was mine. I looked at her a moment, then walked out of class and down to the principal’s office. Mac was a huge man and a former coach. I told him what the situation was, and he also set his jaw, saying, “Well, we’ll see about that.” And we marched down to my classroom. There she sat, still gripping the sides of her chair. Mac pointed at her and said, “Young lady, pick up your books and leave… right now!” She repeated her grim vow, “No, I ain’t going to leave!” Mac turned and looked at me in frustration… I looked back at him the same way. Just then the bell rang, and all the students who had been watching this drama intently just got up and filed out the door. And the young lady did too. Mac and I both looked at each other in relief. Saved by the bell! Next day the kids were all there and quiet as mice. So was the determined young lady. And she didn’t cause any trouble after that either! Another time in that same school, I had a 9th Grade Civics class… all girls and evidently all leftovers in the planning schedule. They were a rough bunch and I had my work cut out for me. So I set about civilizing them. Then tragedy struck… I got the flu and was out for several days. When I came back, at the office they told me they had all but run the substitute, a mild mannered young man, out of the class room. When they all filed in that day, silence hung heavily over the room. They all had hangdog looks… they knew I was going to be very upset. So I started the class by telling them I had heard about their bad performance while I was out. More silence. Then I said, “Well, would you like to talk about it? No use going into the books unless we get this settled.” More silence. Then one by one they began to talk. They told me about the horrible reputation they all had at the school. How their parents were all down on them. Life was just a stinking situation. And I responded by telling them they had their fate in their own hands, and their life could be what they wanted it to be. As we got warmed up, they began to become enthusiastic and finally I said to them, “If you will all turn over a new leaf, we can put this behind us.” Surprise! They were willing to try it. So we went on with the subject matter, but I set aside one day every week to talk about problems. As they tried to change their lives, we marked their stories with encouragement. One girl said, “I tried something new. For a day I tried to do everything my mom asked. She was so amazed; she took me down town and let me buy a new record album I’d been wanting. I’m going to try it again!” So they went on and we cataloged their successes and failures. The good times began to tip the scales. And Christmas was approaching. One day as class ended, one of my most rebellious ladies stopped by the desk. She said, “Mr. Davis, I don’t live with my folks… I’m in a home for girls with problems. We are having a Christmas party. Would you and Mrs. Davis like to come as my guests?” I was so pleased… and my Chief Accountant was enthusiastic. We went, and the home was decorated with a beautiful tree in the foyer. Our young lady had her hair done and wearing an attractive dress. We had a great time! We were proud of her. And thereafter the semester ended on a successful note. I’d be lying if I said I always won all of those battles, but I didn’t lose too many. I wouldn’t have stayed in teaching all those years if it had been any other way!
Watervliet District Library News Local history displays Paper Mill Memories – Celebrate Watervliet’s community history, share your Paper Mill stories, and peruse our local history resources! North Berrien Historical Museum display – Big bands, big venues.
Hopie Jo live @ the Library Thursday, July 26, 7 p.m. Hope Thomas, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and ukulelist, brings her unique brand of alternative folk to the Watervliet Library. Vocals as smooth as silk and sweet acoustics make Hopie Jo’s performance a musical treat!
Summer Reading Program July 12 Dr. Zeemo’s Science Palooza; July 19 Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra Instrument Petting Zoo; July 26 Ice Cream Party Make-It Music Mondays Musical instruments to make-n-take for K-6th graders & family from 1-2 p.m., July 16, percussion and drums and lots of loud stuff!
In Stitches Knitting Group July 13, 2:30-4:00 p.m. Second Friday of every month – it’s never too hot to knit! Third Monday Book Club July 16, 7–8 p.m. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd Pinteresting Monday, July 30, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Arts & Craft for Grown-ups: Distressed Wood Flag
Volunteer Nothing looks better on a resume! Best times to help out: Mondays & Thursdays, program times. Stop by to pick up a form.
Library Garden Park Purchase a Legacy Walk brick and celebrate a memory! Bricks are $75; 13 characters, 2 lines. Pick up a form at the library.
Yoga Monday 9-10 a.m.; Wednes