Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A STORY OF "BILL" AND "WILLIAM"; by School Teacher Pearl Chenoweth; 1913

To win the confidence of a child, give him something to do and let him see that you expect him to do it well. Then when he does, be sure to express your appreciation. I once got around a big difficulty by following this simple rule. Our County Superintendent of Schools had said to me, "There is a rough school over in District 14. Every teacher has had trouble there. The last one was routed completely. I would like to place you in charge, I believe you could manage it."

You see someone had confidence in me and I determined to be worthy of it. I secured board with a nice family who had no children in school. For a few weeks all went smoothly. I had kept good order from the beginning and my pupils had settled down to interested study.

One night at supper I remarked that I could not understand why that school had such a reputation. "Just wait till Bill Rawlins starts to school," I was answered. "He is the meanest boy that ever lived and he leads all the others, you'll have something to do when he starts, you may be sure."

Bill was fourteen. His cousin told me the day before he started to school that he said he meant to "put me out, body and soul," so it was not without some fears that I watched him come over the hill that Monday morning. It was quite an hour before school time. I was building the fire. He walked in with an important swagger, threw his books on a desk and spat halfway across the room. I quit shaving kindling, went over and shook hands with him, saying, "You are William? I am glad you happened to come early for I am out of coal. It is rather far for a woman to carry, you know."

He brought the coal gladly, then I gave him all my pencils to sharpen which he did more neatly than I could have done, and I took pains to let him see that I fully appreciated it. From that hour he was won. He was my knight errant to the end of the term. He did lead the others but he did not lead them astray. Bill told me on the last day of school that I was "one white guy," and because I understood him fully, I considered it a great compliment.