I’ve received many letters from readers who identify a teacher like Grace – one who had a life-long love of teaching, learning, and contributing to community. One letter was from Gail, whose mother-in-law lived almost a hundred years (1911-2011) and was a teacher in Wisconsin. Lorene graduated from a one-year teacher training program in 1929, taught school in rural Wisconsin, married a dairy farmer, and raised five sons. Below are excerpts from her letter.
“During Lorene’s first year in the classroom, she wasn’t paid until the end of the school year (1930) when the community was finally able to come up with her salary. She sent most of her pay home to her parents to help keep their farm afloat. Many of the families in her school community spoke Norwegian at home – so Lorene asked her parents to help her with Norwegian (their first language) so she could work with her students.
Lorene was five feet tall and a bundle of energy and wisdom. After her marriage (1937) she made countless contributions to her community. She loved to go to auctions, often helping out by purchasing items at the church bazaar that no one else wanted. She never wanted donors to feel unappreciated.
At the age of 58, she began attending summer school to earn a teaching degree. At the time of her graduation, she was the oldest person to get a degree from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. During her last few years as a teacher, she had a class of special education students. Years later some of these students would see her on the street and come over to give her a hug.
I believe there were many many Graces and Lorenes who made significant contributions to rural communities in Canada and the US. Thank goodness for them. It was wonderful to read your book.”