A major ice storm passed through Springfield this past weekend.  Though the roads didn’t get all that bad, the ice accumulated on the trees and power lines.  The former were severely damaged.  In front of our townhouses, there is a tree that was literally torn apart by the weight of the ice.


The power lines’ ice buildup caused over sixty thousand people to lose their electricity.  We lost ours on Saturday and went to nearby Ozark to stay with our dear friends, Brooke and Mike Burlison.  With the trauma of so many people being out of power and, thus, heat, many churches in the area scrambled to be what God has asked for us to be-beacons of light and hope.  They opened their doors to people with nowhere else to go.  They gave them warm places to wait out the power outages, along with warm meals and companionship.  This help crossed denominational lines.  Baptist, Assembly of God, Methodist and Lutheran, just to name a few, became examples of Christ through this disaster.


My wife and I returned to our home on Sunday to discover that the electricity was back on.  We didn’t have a phone or (gasp!) internet service, but we had heat and the ability to cook.  And we praise God for that.  We thank Him for Brooke and Mike, who didn’t lose their power at all through this mess.  We thank Him for helping us to keep power through the last waive of the storm that hit on Sunday evening.  We thank Him for the warmth that His church provided for those in need.




Also due to the ice storm, the electricity to our church is still out.  This has canceled the daycare for the remainder of this week.  I’ve noticed that my daughter seems to miss preschool.  This is a feeling that I hope she keeps throughout her childhood and teenage years.  I sure didn’t.


I can look back and see several points in my childhood that really made me hate school, but I attribute most of them to two particular elementary teachers.  I remember “Mrs. N,” my first grade teacher.  The woman never smiled.  She seemed to have none of the talent for dealing with children that her position required.  There was no sense of humor-or patience-at all.  Our daily writing assignments were to copy down a board-full of sentences that she put up.  Of course, I could do this now in five minutes, but it was an abominable task to a six-year-old.  The funny thing was that the other first-grade-teacher only had her class write ONE SENTENCE!!!  And-wouldn’t you know?-the majority of the children who grew up to be in our graduating class’s Top Ten were in her class.


When my parents and I moved to Campbell in January of 1984, where we lived until returning to Van Buren in 1989, I was placed in the classroom of “Mrs. H.”  The thing that I didn’t like about her was that she, too, had no sense of humor.  Her punishment style was horrible.  In Van Buren, corporal punishment was carried out by the principal in his office so that the other students didn’t hear it.  Mrs. H took the student out into the hall, right outside of the door, and paddled them there.  I can still remember jumping in my chair every time I heard the BAM!


And the homework?  Everyday, I would get home from school and work on my assignments until bedtime (sometimes later), taking only a break for supper.  Now, I’ve heard that sociologists suggest that more than an hour’s homework per night is counterproductive.  I would agree with them and I truly wish that they would have figured this out twenty-two years ago.


The next year, Mrs. H moved up to being a fourth grade teacher and (wouldn’t you know?) I got her again.  I remember actually asking my mother to talk to the principal about switching classes.  She never did, though.  She didn’t think that they’d let me.  This was the year that a boy who had ADHD (we didn’t know what that was then) was punished for acting out.  The teacher instructed us to pretend that he didn’t exist.  Of course, we plunged into our parts in this with gusto.  By the time the day was over, I remember feeling horrible about the way that we had treated him.  The poor boy, having been robbed of all human companionship for the afternoon, had been reduced to a blubbering mess.  His eyes were red and swollen from constant crying.  His nose was running and he could barely talk.  Today, a teacher who instituted such cruel punishment would be fired on the spot.


I had other teachers that I really liked.  I remember my fifth grade homeroom teacher, Mr. Felker, who told jokes regularly and gave us a grade on a history project that we could completely make up on our own.  I remember our sixth grade science teacher, who had the courage to tell us that he did not believe in evolution.  I remember my high school science teacher, Mr. Freeman, who made science fun.  I remember Mr. Hager, my high school Speech and Debate teacher, who argued intelligently with me about why my (at the time) liberal beliefs were wrong.  Unfortunately, having bad teachers so early in life can really destroy the school experience.


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2 responses to “

  1. My only bad experience with teachers was during PE (or PhysEd, as I hear it’s called in the US). In junior high, the PE teachers were fine, but high school was another matter.

    The general punishment for any form of mis-behaviour was “Ten push-ups!” That was fine for the athletic kids. But if you were fat like me, everyone (teacher and kids) had a good old chortle at your pathetic efforts.

    I always felt a slight dread PE because of this, and did my very best to stay out of trouble. Never got through completely unscathed, though.

    If you’ve read Ulterior, there’s a chapter in there that’s about this very experience.

  2. We call it “PE” here, too-just as an abbreviation.

    I didn’t take PE in high school. Our school seemed to understand that some of us just weren’t as athletically inclined as others, so they had a variation called “Life Sports,” which switched to games like golf, croquet and, yes, even darts. We also played chess and Spades. I got an “A,” even though I’m not really good at chess.