Today is the first day of school in Norfork, where I live. I’m thinking about children, teachers, schools.
I am not numb to the blue skies looking like a flat-top table.
A day to recall memories of teaching grades 7–11 in Needmore, Indiana. Needmore is situated between Bloomington and Bedford. The main source of work in that area was quarry work, limestone quarries.
I was the new teacher in the school, and I had a Southern drawl. When I called roll, giggles and twittering broke out from the children.
I taught in that little school for four years. I don’t know if the students learned much from me as an English teacher, but I learned plenty from them about community, courage, and encouragement.
That simply means I stepped in plenty of crumbling black holes. I often felt dumbfounded, frozen, and unsure of myself.
I had five daily preps for five different classes. I liked teaching, but it was the children who were fascinating. Some were tough, some broken, some passive. A few very strong readers, a few who could hardly read. God walked me through it.
Outcome: I have high regard for teachers and students.
What I finally figured out during that first year was that they all loved basketball, and their families loved it, too. They were Hoosiers. Hey, basketball was in their blood.
This may be where I learned to sincerely listen.
I’m sharing a little poem with you today about my experience at my school in Needmore, Indiana. So many times, I have wished to recreate those wonderful years of teaching school. What a gift it was.
My Classroom in Needmore, Indiana
All hallways now resemble that one
leading to a room with high windows
and high ceilings, rows of desks
fastened one to another.
Each wooden desktop
displayed a hole, a black well,
adding dark mystery
for seventh grade girls.
My students struggled with grammar,
hairdos, jokes, pierced ears, hormones.
Not so in basketball.
No awkwardness, no missteps.
They had what it took on the court:
legs, opportunity, fluency.
The key to picking up great grammar—
my cheering them forward.
When I’m in a long hallway,
I sometimes hear their rolling laughter
and lightning words. If a door opens,
I’m going in.
From my latest book: Women, Resilient Women by Pat Durmon. Available on Amazon as print and Kindle versions.
May the school year be a blessed year in the lives of those teachers and students you and I know. It’s a place where people can learn they are lovable and capable.
Photo of a classroom taken in Norfork, Arkansas, June 2018, by Pat Durmon.