Wednesday, October 27, 2010

College grad year

My first year out of college I was the science department chair of a small rural high school in Ohio. In fact, I basically was the science department. I taught Biology, Chemistry and Physics while the 9th grade general science course was taught by the Junior High School science teacher. I also began to teach an adult Sunday School class at a small Friends Meeting where I was nominated to be Clerk. I also celebrated my 21st birthday.

I undertook a serious study of the Bible with particular help from several resources such as the Interpreter’s Bible and Barclay’s Daily Study Bible Series. I also read more early Friends, especially studying Barclay’s “Apology,” and “discovered” Rufus Jones’ writings that “spoke to my condition.” My father’s personal library was very extensive, especially of Friends works, but also of other writings. I began to read other theologians such as Barth, Tillich and Bultmann.

I was nominated to be the Clerk of a Quarterly Meeting at the time that Indiana Yearly Meeting was transitioning to “less Quakerly” regional meetings. At the last official West Branch Quarterly Meeting I read a statement I entitled “The Myth of Midwestern Quakerism,” later published in Quaker Life. I also was presiding clerk when Ludlow Falls Friends Meeting was laid down. I began to have serious doubts with regard to the place of the pastoral system and several other aspects of the ways Quakerism was interpreted in Indiana Yearly Meeting. This included the peace witness of Friends. At Yearly Meeting there had been an attempt to publicly denounce “A Quaker Action Group” which was planning to send medical supplies to North Vietnam. The proposed minute would have disavowed the use of Quaker by the group. Due to the statements by several Friends the minute was not approved at the regular sessions but a special “called Meeting” was to be held to review the matter. A number of Friends in Indiana YM sent up a series of weekend meetings throughout the YM on the Friends witness to peace and medical assistance to even our “enemies.” Much of this work was based on Friends history but also the Biblical basis of “Love your neighbor/enemy” as well. I participated in some of these and was impressed by several Friends including Virgil Peacock and Sam Levering. The “called Meeting” decided, I believe at least partially through these efforts, no action would be taken on the proposed minute.

Toward the end of my first year of teaching I was invited to become science department head at Tipp City, OH, high school. This was the school that my wife, Judy, and her family had attended and where her family still lived. At the time the invitation came Judy had just gone through the fist trimester of pregnancy with heavy bleeding and the probability of a miscarriage. It seemed from a professional and personal point of view that it would be best to move closer to Judy’s family and to become involved in a larger science department. Tipp City, through the efforts of Bill Bechtol, Assistant Superintendent, who had been Judy’s teacher and then Principal when she taught for one year before we were married, was exploring ways to individualize instruction to best reach each student. I became involved in science curriculum development and instructional improvement for the entire K-12 range. This was quite exciting and energizing to be involved in “cutting edge” education.

However, the birth of our first son Scott was one of the most memorable times of my life. This came after a very trying last 6 months of the pregnancy during which Judy spent a great deal of time on the couch at her parents’ home where her grandmother also lived. Being young, “foolish,” and full of seemingly boundless energy I had also started a master’s program at Miami U. that summer. Thus in September of 1966, I was the husband of a wonderful person, father of a beautiful child, and a science educator with a bright future.

The following three years were very full. Among the experiences were: Judy and I had a second son, Geoff; I received an MAT in Chemistry; I loved teaching and working with teachers on curriculum and instruction; and I served as “weekend pastor” at Jamestown, OH, Friends Meeting.

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