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Daisy Jacobs and the boy who threw rocks

April 12, 2017

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When Mrs. Daisy Jacobs taught our second grade class she spent time after school with the neighborhood tough kid, Sonny Johnson. He threw rocks at our feet. This kept him from getting in trouble because the bruises didn’t show.

Sonny chopped his brother’s index finger off with a hatchet. His brother Raymond was the nice kid in their family, but Mrs. Jacobs didn’t have him in her class.

I don’t know how often we filed home past Mrs. Jacobs and Sonny, who were whispered to be having a heart-to-heart about his behavior.

Mrs. Jacobs bought Sonny gym shoes because his parents couldn’t afford them.

My mother taught second grade also, after Daddy died, but not in the same school. I’m not sure how Mother regarded her, but I thought Mrs. Jacobs was a great teacher because she liked me. She correctly predicted that I’d be a pharmacist some day. Well, she said that my interest in chemistry could help me.

Moreover, she lived just a few blocks away, so I often walked past her house where she and her husband had their store, the “Food Center.” They had no children. She looked in my ears when she caught me walking past. Said she could plant potatoes in my dirty ears.

Mrs. Jacobs was mid-career in the early 1950s when I had her for second grade. I learned that during the 30s and 40s, teachers were exposed to the progressive ideas of a pioneering educator, John Dewey. He taught the concepts of respect for student diversity and student-centered learning, ideas congruent with the methods of Mrs. Jacobs. I learned about Dewey when I Googled “teacher training in the 1920s.”

I also learned teachers then were beginning to form unions. In Montana it was the Montana Education Association and the National Education Association. Mrs. Jacobs expressed pride in her profession and her loyalty to the union.

 

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