|Meadows of Dan Elementary School, Meadows of Dan, Virginia|
Have you ever had anyone ask you if you had a teacher who really made a difference in your life? Well, I have had several influential teachers, but there is one who really opened up a whole new world for me. Even though I did not know it at the time, so many of the things that I learned sitting in her classroom would go on to influence numerous areas of my life in the future. This person was my 5th grade teacher. She also taught science and art to the 6th & 7th grades and worked with the Gifted & Talented program.
Now, I am here to tell you, she DID teach us some manners! I always had a big problem keeping my mouth closed. I LOVED to talk! Those of you who know me personally are probably laughing right now thinking to yourself that I still have a tendency to jabber on and on! One of the punishments for talking in her class was writing sentences. "Thou shalt not talk in class." 200 times. I wish that I had $10.00 for every time that I had to write sentences! We did have classroom rules and any infractions were punishable by writing sentences.
If we finished our assignments early, she would let us do chores in the classroom. One of the things that I loved to do was straighten up the supply closet. The reason that chore was so enticing was that there was a ladder bolted to the wall in that closet that led to the attic. Aaaah!! The mysterious attic! I wondered and wondered what was up there. I always thought that I would work up the nerve to climb that ladder and take a peek . The one and only thing that stopped me was the promised punishment. She told us that for every rung of that ladder that we touched, we would have to write 1,000 sentences. "Thou shalt not touch the rungs of the ladder." The thing that would betray us was the transom window above the closet door, so she would have surely seen us when we climbed up the ladder which was located just inside the door. Here it is 36 years later and I still dream about that closet, the ladder and the attic and I do regret not taking the chance!
She used an awesome grading system for our assignments.
check plus plus plus; (highest score)
check plus plus;
check; (average score)
check minus minus;
check minus minus minus. (lowest score)
There was always that happy looking little check mark and never an ugly "C", "D" or "F"! She always offered to give us extra credit if we were willing to do special projects. Best of all, she allowed us to be creative!
Some of the things that I learned and enjoyed in her classes:
--Learning to "color" with colored pencils and using pastels.
--Learning about different local plant life and being able to identify trees. One assignment was to see who could bring in the biggest variety of tree leaves. We pressed them between two sheets of wax paper to preserve them.
--Calligraphy! I remember she placed orders for us if we wanted to get calligraphy pens and ink. I ordered two pens and six bottles of ink. (I really didn't realize how long that ink would last . . . I STILL have 2-3 bottles of it!!!!)
--I loved to do the science experiments. She let us bring in samples of water and view it under the microscope so I brought in some water from Tory Creek, which ran right behind my home. Wow! Who would have thought that all of those little critters were in the water that I so loved to play in! She made science fun and I loved keeping a notebook of all of the results of our experiments. I remember her reflecting the light through a prism and making rainbows dance on the classroom walls. I fell in love with drawing pictures of paramecium and amoebas for extra credit.
--She had us decorate a blank journal book and then write, draw or paste special things into the journal. I still have mine!
--Even though I have never been very good at drawing, I always had a sketch pad. One time, I asked her to draw me a picture of a girl in it. She did. The girl in the picture was me. I still have that too.
--She read The Hobbit to us in the afternoons until the book was finished. Her Gollum voice was great! I went on to read The Lord of the Rings that same year.
--She introduced us to The Jack Tales and Grandfather Tales. I used to look forward to the days that she would read another story or another chapter. She would take requests for which Jack Tale we wanted to hear, but she refused to ever read "Soldier Jack" because she said that it would make her cry. I have read Jack Tales and told the stories to hundreds of kids over the years and I always think of her and the way that she made the characters come alive. I have never read "Soldier Jack" aloud either.
Miss Ruth Jean Bolt was a wonderful teacher and she ran a tight ship when it came to teaching us how proper boys and girls should behave in the classroom. I still think of her often. About 10 years ago, I ran into her at the local drugstore in Laurel Fork. I recognized her right away, but I thought that it would be awkward to speak to her because I figured that there would be no way that she could possibly remember me. When she turned around, she looked at me and said "Well, hello Kim!" I would not have been any more honored if the Queen of England acknowledged me!!
|Meadows of Dan Yearbook 1976-1977|
I know that Miss Bolt received quite a few awards for being such a great teacher. She deserved every one and then some.
One of my friends, Carolyn, lived 2-3 miles from Miss Bolt. I remember that one time we became overly ambitious and we walked all the way to her house. We were hot and tired. Miss Bolt took us in and gave us something nice and cool to drink. I remember that she had a beautiful teapot collection sitting on some shelves in her home.
I think that one of the reasons that it just broke my heart when Meadows of Dan Elementary School caught on fire this past summer was because I so closely associate the joy of being in Miss Bolt's classes with the school itself. As I watched a video that was taken of the ruined interior of the school, it showed Miss Bolt's room. Seeing the ruins of that particular classroom and the closet which held the mysterious ladder made me cry even more.
|Looking down into Miss Bolt's classroom. That white arrow|
marks the entrance to the closet and THE LADDER!
There are not enough words to express my gratitude to you for being such an excellent teacher, Miss Bolt. Thank you, for encouraging us to explore and be creative.