For the first three years of my education I attended a three-room school house in a coal mining town located in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania. Room 0ne was for grades 1 to 5. Room Two was grades 6 to 8. Room Three was high school. Miss Colcovage was the teacher of the five grades in room one, with five rows of desks representing each of the five grades.
The education was quite progressive. Each row was a grade, but if you were a capable reader you might be placed in another row for the portion of teaching for that subject. When Miss Colcovage was teaching one row, the other four rows of students worked independent and were self-directed. (One of reasons I can study/read/write in a noisy environment was being educated in a noisy environment. I’m just used to all the ambient noise.)
One of my fondest memory of Miss Colcovage was when she would decide to take the entire five classes on a nature walk through the woodland area. This usually happened on a warm sunny day. When we got back to the classroom after traipsing through the woods we would have to write our reaction to the nature walk. One could never see this decision to take a walk in the legalistic school environment of today. Permission slips, parent helpers, safety issues are just a few the things to consider today. And they should be. We live in a different world.
Well nothing ever happened. No poison ivy encounters. No law suits were filed. The minimum 180 days of school was not a factor in the decision-making. And I loved every minute going on a nature walk because it sparked ideas about unknown places, new people groups and horizons not confined to my small coal mining town. It takes a special teacher to cast that vision in a child.
On warm sunny days, I can still hear Miss Colcovage say, “Class, let’s go for a walk!”
We need more of this spontaneity in our lives. There are risks to our exuberance. We live in a world of laws and regulations. I started writing back in those early days. That spontaneity led to a desire to be a writer/novelist because the walks made me see another layer of life beyond the obvious.
But dreams don’t become fulfilled that easily. Life happens. The clock keeps ticking. Responsibility is thrust upon us.
Miss Colcovage’s mantra was: don’t give up. The embers of desire to write never went out. With a little fanning the embers turned back to flames. Books were written. Road traveled. Goals met decades later. Because of a sweet teacher who said, “Class, let’s go for a walk!”