I remember with delight the first school I taught in the winter. Friends were unwilling to have me try it. They said I could not wade through the snow drifts and the large boys would not obey a child like me, but I got a pair of boots such as the men wore, pinned up my dress and started early, for the snow was deep. I succeeded and always after liked the winter schools the best. I early made it a matter of conscience never to be late to any engagement. Teacher, it will save you much trouble if you will be first at your school. Even though the door be locked until you come. I either made my own fires or was there to help make them. There were no janitors for our schools. I usually got the most troublesome boys to come and help arrange the school room. It did them good.
MY FIRST CONVERT.
It was as a teacher that I had my first experience in leading a soul to Christ; the school was in winter time in Redbank Township, a German settlement. They had never had a Sabbath school there, but I succeeded in organizing and conducting one that was greatly blessed. One of my pupils who was about eleven years old had a drunken father. The dear little fellow used to come early to school so that he could help the teacher and have a quiet talk and sometimes a prayer. During the holidays I went to Clarion town to attend a teachers' Institute. While there my dear boy Willie was taken sick. They sent for me to my home which was four miles distant, but Clarion was twelve miles farther away and the snow was very deep. Therefore they did not send to that place for me. There were no railroads. The dear boy called for me until the very last day, then he said, "Tell my teacher that she will find me when she comes to heaven," and with that sweet message he said good-bye to the sickness and sorrow of earth, and entered the joy of heaven. Oh, how long he has been there waiting for his teacher to come. I was greatly grieved because I was not sent for.
Teaching school was always a delight, and yet, I had many trying times. I never could leave all the cares of the school room behind when I started for home. No, indeed, I carried them to my bedroom and often lay awake half the night studying what to do with bad boys or girls, or how to make a hard lesson plain. To-day I thoroughly believe that the way to succeed with any vocation is to make it a part of your very self and weave it into your every thought and prayer. I have no sympathy with those who take hold of any kind of work with the tips of their fingers. No, no! Grab hold of it with both hands and hold on as if your very life depended upon its success, for it does.
In those days the rod was freely used in the schools, the teacher marched around with one in his hand, all day, often slashing it upon the seat to frighten the pupils. Against this I protested with all my might in our teachers' meetings and elsewhere. I only used the rod three times that I can remember in all my fifteen years of teaching, and then it did no good. They said I did not know how to administer such punishment, and perhaps they were right. My schools were never very quiet; there was freedom, but not real disorder. As a general thing I loved my pupils and they loved me and we did not try to worry each other. I know I made mistakes for which I shed many tears.
Shortly after I united with the church I felt it my duty to read the Bible and pray with my pupils. In Pennsylvania public schools this was not forbidden, but I had never prayed in public and feared I could not. One morning I said, "Children we can't be good to-day unless God helps us. Let us kneel and pray." All got on their knees and I said, "Our Father which art in heaven," and there I stopped. I could not repeat another word, not even the prayer I had said every day from a child. After a time of quiet we arose from our knees. The children were much impressed. I thought they would smile at my failure; but no, it had a good effect and perhaps was the best prayer I ever made, for I was so very much in earnest. I think the children thought my short prayer was what I wanted. I have always taught the Bible as well as prayed in my school; yes, taught it, not simply read it. Once in Illinois the directors said, "We do not allow the Bible taught in our schools"; then I said, "I will leave"; but they replied, "Oh, no, don't leave." So I had my way. To God be all the glory.
It is very encouraging to remember how God has always helped me. Just here let me tell you another experience that may perhaps help some fainthearted teacher. There was a large troublesome school near Clarion town. The winter of which I speak the teacher left after teaching one month?rather the scholars drove him out. They came for me to take the school. I said, "Yes, if you will wait until I finish this school I'm teaching." They waited and I went. The school numbered about sixty. The house was crowded. We had no graded schools in the country. Many of the pupils were between the ages of 16 and 20. Some were very unruly. I began with my Bible lessons and prayer. The order was not the best. I kept some after school, wrote little letters to others, praised those that were good and tried to be patient. I had several talks with about six of the large girls. They were not all good, but I thought I would tell them how they could help me; perhaps that would make them more careful. Dear reader, I want you to know that there are a great many people in this world bad because no one believes in them. But notwithstanding all my plans, the school was far from what it ought to be. When I had taught about two weeks several of the large boys came to the door while I was praying. The door was shut as it always was during devotions. They began to mock my prayer, repeating part of it and saying "Amen." The prayer ended, the door opened and in walked my bad boys. I said nothing, but called a class to recite. I had been trying hard to keep the tears back and could bear it no longer, sank on a seat and cried like a child. Mary Wilson, one of the large girls came up and took the book and heard the class recite. I tried a half-dozen times to dry my tears that forenoon and failed each time. Now this was an entirely new experience for me. I never had done so before nor have I since. It was not a bit like me. I had not planned it. If I had it would have lost its effect. The girls heard the classes and managed the recess and I sat there and cried. The pupils knew I was making a great effort to be calm. Every one was very quiet and orderly. The girls told me that the bad boys never once looked up. At noon we went to a little stream of water in the woods. The girls bathed my face, combed my hair and comforted me. They said half the school had been in tears in the morning. Well, I taught that afternoon, never referred to the morning, nor did I at any time afterwards?buried it all?never by word or look reproved the bad boys, nor did they make any apology; but they came to school and behaved themselves most of the time. The battle was fought and won, and I had nothing to do but trust and pray. I finished that school and taught the next winter. We had a reading circle, that met some evenings in the week and a great exhibition at the close of the school. It was one of my best schools; there were many intelligent pupils. Surely God can use the weak things of this world. The last school I taught in Pennsylvania was a select one. It was really the first session of what is now called the Reeds Institute, Reeedsville, Pa. The day after the closing exhibition we met in the church to say good-bye, not to meet again, as I was going west. Rev. Benjamin H. Thomas, the pastor of the church, said he called, opened the door saw us all on our knees, most of us in tears; he felt it was too sacred a place to intrude, so left. Those were certainly the most devoted pupils I ever had, intelligent and faithful.
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