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Teaching courage: some who inspired

Letter to the Editor

At an English boarding school, a short boy sits silently memorizing poetry, hesitant to rise because painfully aware that he is an odd outsider: He speaks with a lisp that will plague him all his life. Neither his American mother nor his father in Parliament ever take time to visit him. On official visitation days, only his nanny arrives, but he leads her about campus, proudly proving someone cares. The boy is Winston Churchill. Decades later, he will use the memorized text to rally his war cabinet to stand up to Hitler: “Then out spake brave Horatius, / The Captain of the gate: / ‘To every man upon this earth / Death cometh soon or late. / And how can man die be better / Than facing fearing fearful odds / For the ashes of his fathers / And the temples of his gods.’”

We owe gratitude to teachers who challenge students to memorize and who inspire courage by personal example.

Fifty years ago in the Grangeville school district, our brave teachers taught courage by content and personal example. Space here allows mention of four.

First, we remember foreign language teacher Zona Chedsey, daring to record herself singing Mexican folk songs and leading in-class Christmas carols in Spanish.

Second, we recall Betty Cole, who saw—and shared—the Christian symbolism in poetry such as Frost’s Death of the Hired Man.

Third, we cannot forget champion band teacher Buck Cole. His leading of our fight song rallied GHS “to win a victory or die.” Because of Buck, our Christmas concerts focused on Christ.

Fourth, in Mrs. Frazier’s seventh-grade English class, I tried to memorize Charge of the Light Brigade. It was half a league beyond me. She graciously allowed me to memorize and recite Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd . . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me …” I don’t remember if thugs threatened her for letting me memorize Bible verses, but being so brave, she probably graciously yawned.

Gary Altman



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