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LETTER: Reminiscing on years of teaching

To the Editor: It was an interesting and historic account of Warren Thomas' journey from the Mitchell classroom to combat in Korea. It is worthwhile to remember those who served Mitchell years ago and the kind words nearly 70 years later about Ge...

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To the Editor:

It was an interesting and historic account of Warren Thomas' journey from the Mitchell classroom to combat in Korea. It is worthwhile to remember those who served Mitchell years ago and the kind words nearly 70 years later about Gertie Belle Rogers. Few are still alive that were the "new teachers" in 1950. One was a blue-eyed blond 19-year-old kindergarten teacher from Iowa. A year later, The Daily Republic ran a story about that teacher and her twin sister. I met Donna Haefner after reading the story but was in the Army three weeks later. Letters were exchanged between us then and now, 66 years later.

In 1957, I had entered elementary teaching. After having student taught in the sixth grade, I did the unthinkable, I asked for first grade student teaching and requested that I be assigned to Rose Marie Moran's classroom. Gertie Belle Rogers approved both requests. That summer Superintendent Lloyd Uecker hired me as the first new Mitchell teacher. My salary was $3,875, which included $300 for being male. Joe Quintal was unable to make me into a football coach. Ardath Van Tassel was then assistant superintendent. In the 1960s Van Tassel and I were both consultants in Iowa.

In 1970 I was elected to the state Senate, where I served with Sen. Quintal. Retired Superintendent Lloyd Uecker asked me to do something about teacher retirement. Three years later I was on the LRC Executive Board. Sen. Harvey Wollman gave me a leadership position to create SDRS. Now, 40 years later, there is more than $10 billion that will go to retired teachers and other public servants. Sadly, the secretaries, aides and custodians of Mitchell Public Schools and perhaps six other small schools deny their dutiful workers that wonderful benefit.

As we old teachers move into the late 80s, memories mean so much. I will send the newspaper copy of Warren Thomas' letter to that "twin teacher" of the 1950s. Donna might smile when she reads about Phyllis Cole whom she worked with a lifetime ago.

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Rod Hall

Mitchell

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