|Mrs. Sharpe's house was like this.|
My 5th grade teacher at Byesville Elementary was Mrs. Winnie Mae Sharpe. She was the wife of the mayor, O.J. Sharpe. They lived in the biggest house in town, a large (palatial to us) colonial with green grass in the yard and a garage that was used for putting cars into. This was different from other houses in Byesville.
|Whereas our houses were more or less like this.|
Mrs. Sharpe was formidable for reasons beyond those trappings, though. She was considered the meanest teacher you could have at Byesville Elementary. (Personally, I favored my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Thorla, in that spot and not just because of the name--Thorla vs. Sharp would be a hard one to call. No, I was going on first-hand evidence from when Mrs. Thorla shut my hand in the classroom door, on purpose.)
Mrs. Sharpe traditionally assigned seats at the beginning of the school year. You were to sit in one of five rows, lettered A, B, C, D, and . . . F. Hm. Mrs. Sharpe explained that the very best pupils in the class would be in the front seat of each row. If you were at the front of A row, then you helped all the A students who sat behind you. And so on. Down to F row. Being in 5th grade already, we caught on almost immediately. Mrs. Sharpe was very careful to explain that the "front-row person" (that was the official title, we were soon to gather) of the F row deserved our respect because it was very hard to help all the F students.
At this point you probably think I am making this up. I am not. This was 5th grade in Byesville, Ohio, in the 1970s. And it's not like these kids weren't already carrying around emotional and intellectual baggage. On top of the fact that they probably didn't have enough to eat. Or warm enough clothes. Or eyeglasses if they needed them.
To the point where American education had progressed in Appalachia by then, no one questioned the schools about anything. Teachers were the only college-educated members of our community. Usually they were clueless first-year teachers who beat it out of there after a year's experience. But there were also a few lifers like Mrs. Sharpe, who became "pillars of the community." What with being all that and the mayor's wife, Mrs. Sharpe could have eaten a kid for breakfast and no one would say 'Boo.'
|Dunce by Shadowland-Dreamer|