Hazel Showman/Deweese – School Teacher

Upon graduating from high school (What Cheer, Iowa) mom entered ‘normal school’ in Cedar Falls, IA.  My understanding of ‘normal school’ is that it was a ‘technical school’ for teachers.  It was a non-degree program.  I don’t know how long the program lasted, but my guess is that it was less than a year.

I believe she started her teaching in Burr Oak, a small country school near her home (5 miles?) and I think she quit teaching when she married dad.

Then while dad was away in the Army, she received a call from the county superintendent of schools.  It seemed they had a school with discipline problems and apparently mom had impressed someone, because he felt she could handle it.

It had to be 1943, I would be 5 in December so I was too young to start school, but mom’s only demand for taking the job was that she be allowed to take me with her.  It was too far to travel daily, so we boarded with a local resident and that is how I started school before I was 5 years old.

Frankly, I don’t remember a thing about that year and the next year mom got the job teaching at a school (Mayflower) only 3 miles from our home.  She taught there in 1944 and 1945.  I continued to attend her school until dad returned from the Army and I started attending Springfield (which I learned was the same school mom had attended).

I can’t recall when she went back to teaching at Burr Oak.  But I believe she was teaching there while I was in Junior and Senior High (1949-1955).

Burr Oak was a small country school, grades 1 – 8, with a maximum of 10 or 12 students.  Her 8th graders consistently ranked among the very top in the county.

She was apparently an excellent teacher and she took her job very seriously.  She took night classes virtually all of the time.  Some of these classes were offered by William Penn in Oskaloosa and others were in Ottumwa.  I would sometimes ride with her to Ottumwa and then visit my Aunts, Betty and Wilda, who lived a worked in Ottumwa at that time.

I believe they closed the Burr Oak school in 1956 or 1957, the year I started college and I believe mom taught for the first time in a ‘city’ school.  She taught for some time, I really don’t know how long, in What Cheer.

There was a period of time in the 1960’s that she didn’t teach, but when dad took a job with the Meat Animal Research Center, in Clay Center, Nebraska she returned to teach at the Clay Center Community School.  She also took the opportunity to return to school and was finally able to get her Education Degree from Kearney, Nebraska in 1976 or 1977.  She would have been either 64 or 65 years old when she finally got her degree.

It’s ironic that she never earned more than $4800 in her teaching career because she didn’t have a degree and she obtained her degree the year she finally retired from teaching!

I had mom as my teacher for 3 years, although I have memory of only 2 of those years.  I don’t know how she did it, but she commanded respect without the need to be harsh.  She had no musical ability but had to teach music and although she didn’t have an aptitude for math she successfully taught math.

She was the kind of teacher we all hope for our children.  Looking over her career it is obvious that she taught because she loved to teach.  It certainly wasn’t an occupation for earning a lot of money!  She used to tell me that she liked working with the very advanced and those who had trouble learning.  She found both ends of the spectrum rewarding.

I had the pleasure to take her back to Iowa when her students from Burr Oak organized a reunion in her honor.  It was very obvious that these students held her in very high regard.

Unfortunately mom apparently suffered a minor stroke shortly after that reunion which wiped out all memory of the event.

After she passed away I discovered that she had maintained contact with many of her students over the years.  Several had kept her updated with their progress through life.

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