A Lifetime of Teaching


[ Teaching in Erie ]

November 23 – Just a follow-up on my teacher/volunteer post from earlier this week. I have been a teacher all my life, and have taught in various places for many years: from college graduation in 1949 and my first teaching in Pittsburgh to further teaching in Erie, PA and also in Africa.

Now that’s a story in itself! While teaching in Pittsburgh, I received a call from the mission board in Washington, DC, asking if I would go to India to teach while the position was still open. Well, I was delighted, because I had always wanted to end up overseas where I could work with kids who needed a lot more than a teacher who was interested in them. So, I accepted the appointment, but the school board in Pittsburgh just couldn’t understand why I would leave in the middle of the year. Their message? “Could you please stay till the end of the year and then go to India?”


[ My classroom in Lower Gwelo ]

Well, sure, I would be glad to be part of the lives of the wonderful students I loved and appreciated for another few months! But, by the end of the year, someone else had been sent to India to take “my job.” I didn’t even get a chance to feel sad or disappointed, because a week later, the same man from DC, phoned to ask if I would like to teach in Africa instead! Would I? No question about that one.

So, at the end of the school year, I was off to Cape Town on a freighter with only four other passengers. In those days, hardly anybody could fly to the destination as the cost of a ticket was unbelievable! So I spent many, many days on that ship, making friends with the other passengers and crew, catching a couple small sharks when I tossed out a line supplied by the chief engineer, and eating meals with the captain and others who were the bosses over the rest of the crew.


[ Some of my 30-year old students! ]

After landing in Cape Town, I was met by a travel agent who sent me on my way north to Southern Rhodesia to teach at Lower Gwelo. (Gweru in Zimbabwe today). There, Prescott Fairchild was the school principal. Yes, he was Dale’s father, but I didn’t see his son at all since the family lived about twenty miles away in town.

Several months went by as I learned to love those students (48 of them in one room) in Standard Six, which is eighth grade. At the age of 25, I found that most of the students were older than that, some in their thirties!


[ Dale and friends in Africa ]

When it came time for Principal Fairchild and his wife to go back to the States on a furlough, they asked me if I would please keep their German Shepherd, Blitz, until they returned. Sure, I would be glad to. The first night he walked or ran or whatever it took, to go back to his home there in Gwelo.

When the principal brought him back to me the next day, he asked if I would keep the dog inside for a few days till he felt at home. About a week later, Dale came out to see the dog since both he and Blitz missed each other. His visits continued in the days and weeks to come, and he finally was driving his motor cycle, his only means of transportation, out to the mission more often. Finally it dawned on me that maybe he was coming out to visit with the dog’s caretaker, instead of the dog!

Yes, you guessed it! From a deep friendship to a loving relationship, and finally when the folks came back from the States, a marriage that has lasted for nearly 62 years! Teaching does have it rewards… – CHRIS

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