Teacher Eulalia Bourne, whose career spanned more than four decades, taught elementary school in rural areas, mining camps, and Indian reservations throughout Arizona during some of our country’s most challenging periods: World War I, the Depression, and World War II. This women’s libber was ahead of her time, becoming one of the very few women in her day to own and run her own cattle ranch. Eulalia thought outside the box in many ways. Every year on the first day of school she would wear a new dress, usually blue to complement her eye color. Every day after that, she wore jeans, Western-style shirts, cowboy boots, and Stetson hats to class. She was once fired for dancing the one-step, a new jazz dance, at a birthday party some of her students attended, because the clerk of the board considered the dance indecent! She even learned to speak Spanish fluently and, when confronted with non-English-speaking students, taught her classes in Spanish, even though it was against the law to do so. But she is probably best known for producing a little classroom newspaper entitled Little Cowpunchers which featured student writings, drawings, and news stories about classroom events. Today, these little newspapers are recognized as important historical documents of Southern Arizona ranching communities from 1932 to 1943. Additionally, Eulalia published three critically-acclaimed books about her teaching and ranching experiences: Ranch Schoolteacher, Nine Months is a Year at Baboquivari School, and Woman in Levi’s. These volumes, although now out of print, can sometimes be purchased at used book stores and sometimes can be found at online sites featuring royalty-free works. The read is well-worth the search, particularly for those interested in Arizona history.
On September 15, 2012, I was fortunate enough to appear as a guest author at the Glen Avon Public Library in Jurupa Valley, California. This was a great opportunity to share my recently published book, Chalkboard Champions, with other local authors and library visitors who attended the annual event. The Glen Avon Friends of the Library took very good care of us, providing a sack lunch from Subway plus other snacks and goodies. I also got to learn about some new technology which the Riverside County Library System (RCLS) has added to its catalogue of patron services. In addition, I’m very excited that the RCLS has added seventeen copies of my book to various branches within their network. I hope to be invited to more of these author events in the future!
Between the years of 1847 and 1858, more than six hundred women left their comfortable, civilized homes and traveled across the country to teach in America’s frontier schools. These women dedicated their lives and their talents and overcame untold hardships to educate the children of the Wild West. The true stories in this book, Frontier Teachers: Stories of Heroic Women of the Old West by Chris Enss, spotlight twelve of these most amazing teachers.
One of the most compelling tales is that of Olive Mann Isbell and Hannah Clapp, who opened school each day armed with guns to protect their students from hostile natives, and Sister Blandina Segale, who became a teacher to outlaws, including Billy the Kid, and Eliza Mott, who taught her students the alphabet using the inscriptions on tombstones because she didn’t have any textbooks or supplies.
In addition to these compelling stories, the volume possesses numerous high-quality black-and-white photographs of the teachers and their classrooms, plus a handy appendix furnishing additional details about teaching in frontier schools. The book is a treasure-trove of information for anyone interested in the history of education during this particular time period.
If you’re interested in finding out more about these historic women, you can find this book at amazon.com through the following link: Frontier Teachers.
This beautiful lady is teacher Gladys Kamakuokalani Brandt, a Native Hawaiian old enough to have attended the funeral services in 1917 of Queen Liliuokalani, the last reining monarch of Hawaii, and yet young enough to witness the unprovoked attack upon Pearl Harbor in 1941 which precipitated World War II. Gladys began her career as a teacher, working in public schools and eventually becoming an instructor at the prestigious Kamehameha Schools, a private institution set up to educate Native Hawaiian students.
As a youngster, Gladys was deeply ashamed of her Hawaiian heritage, so much so that she rubbed her face with lemon juice to lighten her complexion. By the time she became the principal of Kamehameha Schools, however, she fought tirelessly for the inclusion of courses to preserve Native Hawaiian culture, supporting instruction in Hawaiian language, song, and the controversial standing hula dance which had been forbidden by the school’s trustees. The story of her work is an inspirational one.
Equally inspirational is the story of the dedication and sacrifice of Hawaii’s teachers in the days and weeks following the bombing. From serving as ambulance drivers, setting up shelters for survivors, teaching their students how to use gas masks, taking their students into the sugar cane fields to harvest the crops, and re-establishing some semblance of order for their students when school resumed, their deeds are truly remarkable. You can read about Gladys and her fellow Hawaiian teachers in Chalkboard Champions.
Here is a teacher who is truly inspirational: Stacey Bess of Salt Lake City, Utah. As a first-year teacher, Stacey landed in a classroom set up in a storage shed in an area homeless shelter. The facility was literally referred to as the School With No Name. As you can imagine, her students wrestled with a variety of issues, including unstable living arrangements, domestic abuse, poverty, and alcohol and drug-abusing parents. Not the most desirable circumstances for learning. But this remarkable teacher created a safe and loving classroom environment for her kids. She went to battle with the local school board for a more suitable teaching space and better resources. And, oh, yeah, she raised her own family and defeated cancer at the same time.
You can read the story of the dynamic Stacey Bess in Beyond the Blackboard, available through amazon.com.