Tag Archives: teaching as a profession

Author Guest Blog: Dear Miss Schneider, Please Excuse Walter

The Little Bookstore receives requests from authors to showcase their work. As a bookstore we enjoy supporting writers, creativity, and spunk, so we offer guest blogs when possible. Today’s is from┬áLinda Schilling Mitchell, author of:

“DEAR MISS SCHNEIDER, PLEASE EXCUSE WALTER…”

Times were tough during the Great Depression. It impacted every facet of family life. Fathers lost their jobs and Mothers had to go to work, often for the first time in their lives. But what about the children?

“Dear Miss Schneider, Please Excuse Walter…” takes you back to Miss Victoria Schneider’s classroom from 1937-1940. “She is 19 years old and stands a mere 5’2″ and weighs in at 78 pounds soaking wet. She is hardly bigger than some of her third grade students. But she is prepared….she thinks.”

“Thirty one faces gaze back at her. Boys and girls grouped together from various backgrounds and circumstances. Little girls dressed in their best first day of school dresses, hair ribbons neatly tied and pig tails perfectly platted. Little boys with fresh haircuts, shirts attempting to stay tucked into their pants.”

But what was life really like for these children during those difficult years? We find out through a collection of notes Miss Schneider compiled in a special scrapbook. Notes from parents explaining why their children were absent from school. Humble, heartfelt and often humorous notes, giving us a key hole peek inside the lives of these families.

“Walter has no shoes only Tennis Shoes and it snow Monday an was wet and He has a Cold any way and I could not send him,” reads one note.

Parenting methods of the day are also noted: “Miss Schneider, take you a stick and give Clarence a good beating and he will mind you. That’s all it takes to make him mind.”

In addition to the collection of notes, “Dear Miss Schneider, Please Excuse Walter…” contains photographs and memorabilia from Miss Schneider’s childhood and schooling in the northern Kentucky town of Newport.

Author Linda Schilling Mitchell is Miss Schneider’s daughter who now shares her family keepsake with people everywhere. It makes a wonderful book for all teachers, anyone interested in history, or those who remember those times.

It was a lifetime ago. Their story has been waiting to be told.

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Wisconsin Teachers Rock!

Jack’s weekly guest blog

I love singing and telling stories in schools, something I haven’t done in a fairly long time. This week Wendy and I are in Appleton, Wisconsin doing school and library appearances as part of The Fox Cities Book Festival.

DSCN0174Back when we lived in Scotland I used to do quite a bit of song-writing sessions with kids in the upper classes of primary schools, and got a tremendous kick out of working with that age group. The equivalent over here is grade 4 or 5 in elementary schools. It’s my favorite age group because they still have enormous curiosity and enthusiasm, and haven’t yet glimpsed the approaching diversions of the teenage years.

During this week we sang songs with them and told stories, and then fielded a host of wildly different questions – “How many cats do you have? Do you wear a skirt in Scotland? Is a loch something you find on a door? Have you seen the Loch Ness Monster? How many books are in your shop? Etc, Etc – – –

It’s become obvious to us why Wisconsin schools have such a high reputation! The ones we visited were bright and cheerful, with enthusiastic and engaged teachers, artwork adorning the walls, kids controlled and respectful while also cheerful and inquisitive.

And yet, this is the state where “collective bargaining” for teachers turned into AWOL senators, people taking the doors off the Capital’s central chambers, and names hurled with more fury than accuracy on all sides. It might puzzle some people why teachers so maligned in those days remain committed to their profession. Seeing them in action this week, we can say without a doubt that their first allegiance is to the children. God Bless the teachers of Wisconsin! (And the rest of the world, come to it.)

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