Sunday, October 24, 2010


I entered Earlham College shortly after my 17th birthday and planned to be a math teacher. The following four years were full of challenges, opportunities and wonderful events.

The summer after my first year I went to work at Quaker Haven Camp in Indiana. There I met Judy Rogers. Our relationship began as a joke when she would say to me quite loudly in the dining room, “No. For the last time, I will not marry you.” However, about a month after summer started we came to realize that we wanted to spend more time together. Within another month, I asked her to be my wife. Fortunately for me, she said yes. We were married at the end of my Junior year after she had been teaching elementary school for a year. For financial reasons she had completed the requirements for a “Cadet Teacher” certificate to teach in Ohio public schools at the end of 3 years of college.

At the beginning of my Sophomore year I was fortunate to have an opportunity to play goal keeper for the alumni soccer team in the annual alumni-varsity game during pre-season practice. I was 5’ 4” and most people didn’t think I could make a good enough keeper to pay for the varsity. The keeper from the previous year had broken his arm and was going to play in the field so a “new” keeper was needed. Apparently I did well enough in that game and in pre-season that I was selected as the starting keeper for the season. We had a good year and the following year, my Junior year, the soccer team was National co-champs of the small college division of soccer. My senior year I was elected Captain and MVP of the team. I was very fortunate to be part of a team that respected each other, worked at our individual skills and positions, and played as a team. The coach, Charlie Matlack, always stressed that we needed to develop individual skills but that even more important was that we be willing to work with the team. He exemplified the concept that, although winning was great, our integrity as individuals and as a team were more important. Competition with others was less critical to our development as competition with ourselves to improve our skills and teamwork.

I had been an excellent math student in high school and intended to be a math teacher. However, my second course in Calculus was with a professor who stressed, at least in my perception, memorization and rote repetition of the voluminous notes from the chalkboard that were written during class. I did not do well. At the same time I took a Chemistry class from Ted Benfey and discovered that the subject was not just memorization and rote repetition of the Periodic Chart and other “facts.” Science was taught as a search for a sense of what the natural world was like at its basics. I decided to be a Chemistry major and a teacher of science as a result of that course. Several members of the Chemistry faculty at Earlham at that time were Friends, T. Benfey, L. Strong, W. Stratton. Their approach to chemistry and science seemed models of the way to approach both the natural and spiritual worlds.

My senior year was full of changes and opportunities. Judy and I lived in married student housing and she taught in a rural Ohio school. I did my student teaching in the high school associated with the school where Judy taught. The spring of that year I was offered a part time teaching position in Hagerstown, IN, where my uncle was on the school board and my cousin was in a physics class. The physics teacher spent most of the time talking about his hobby of raising bees and rarely brought up much physics. I was asked if I would teach the class. It was my first professional teaching position and the start of 42 years of teaching in many ways and in many places.

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