Along The Way, Lessons Learned
Each of us, most likely, has been influenced by teachers. They are those people who chose to make educating others their life’s work. In school, teachers taught us how to read and write, as well as to understand our country’s history. Beyond the fundamentals of our book learning education, they also helped to shape us to become the people we are today.
For myself, I believe the most important things I remember were lessons not in the books – things that, in many ways, helped to guide my life. It took me a long time to understand the importance of life’s lessons that went beyond the class room.
In the early sixties, Mr. Rupert Shreve was my science teacher. I don’t remember the exact year, but I know he taught at the old Central Grade school. By chance, a few years ago, I met one of his daughters. We were waiting for jury duty, and I described a teacher who made a big influence in my life. When I mentioned his name, the lady turned and explained the teacher was her father. I also learned that Mr. Shreve had passed away in 199.
When I decided to write this story, I realized I wanted to know a little more about the man. I wanted to know who he was as a person. I contacted his family and they were very helpful in telling me about the man they knew. Mr. Shreve graduated in 1935 from Smithfield High School. He went on to West Liberty and graduated from Salem College. Gained his Masters from WVU. He also was a member of the United States Army Air Corps. Mr. Shreve married Amanda Horner and they had three children, Karen, Robert and Peggy. He began his teaching career in a one-room school in Archer Fork. I learned he had a diverse life in many different careers. But, I believe he enjoyed being a science teacher most of all.
That fact is why I remember him to this day, and believe he made a difference in my life. Mr. Shreve had a way of teaching that went beyond the books. He showed me science could be found all-around us, and its wonders were what made life an adventure.
He taught me that the human body is complex and has many mysteries. To illustrate this point, he held a watch in his hand, (a wind-up watch). As he held it, he explained about the body’s ability to create magnetism. Everyone’s body produces tiny amounts of electricity from their nervous system. In Mr. Shreve, this electrical field was strong. By holding the watch, his body’s magnetic field stopped its movements. Another time, in his class, he showed us a jar of water from the fountain. He placed a drop on a microscope slide and asked each of us to look at it through the eye piece. We saw nothing in the drop of water. He then took the water and placed dry straw into it. A few days later he repeated the process and we each again looked into the microscope. This time, we saw a world of strange living creatures. In one of his classes, he asked us to go outside that evening and look up at the night sky. The next day he explained the light, we each saw, began its journey at the same time Christopher Columbus set out for the new world. I must confess, it took me a few more years to completely understand all that he taught me.
Later on in high school, I had another teacher that taught me something else that helped shape my life. Mrs. Velinda Phillips was my typing teacher in high school. I figured if I went into business, I should know how to type. That’s how I ended up in her class. Now, I will have to say, I remember her as a teacher who knew her job and expected you to pay attention and learn the lessons she was teaching. She wanted to be sure you learned the home keys without looking.
Later on in life, I was fortunate to have Mrs. Phillips and her family as neighbors and friends. She is a kind and caring person who has spent countless hours helping others, along with many different organizations. A few years back she was recognized for her dedication in helping others at the annual senior gathering during a Town and Country Day’s luncheon.
Velinda (Allen) Phillips attended Mobley School for the first six years of her education. If you don’t know where Mobley is, go to Pine Grove, take a left, and travel fourteen miles. It is a good ways off the beaten path. After finishing at Mobley, she attended high school in Pine Grove. Then she attended Fairmount to gain her teaching degree. After completion, she went on to West Virginia University where she received her Master’s degree.
Early in her career, she taught at Hundred High School for a period of a year and a half. Next she was asked to be a Home Demonstration agent and worked as the county’s 4-H agent. Eventually she ended up coming to New Martinsville and teaching business classes at Magnolia. Home economics, business education, accounting, short hand and computers were some of the classes she taught.
Along the way, Velinda married Ralph Phillips and in time they had two sons, Allen and Jon. Like Mr. Shreve, her life has been made up of different twists and turns along the way. But for me, the time she spent as my typing teacher made a difference for me. She not only taught me how to type, she taught me self-discipline towards learning. She accepted only that you try to learn in her class and that took personal discipline. Repetitiveness to knowing the keys’ locations without looking, became part of my subconscious. Only then could I understand the discipline of learning a challenging task. Something I carried with me into adult life.
Mr. Shreve taught me the mysteries of the human body. To look with curiosity at a pool of water and the hidden life that may be there. He also taught me to look beyond the stars to the possibilities of what may be in the vastness of the heavens. Mrs. Philips taught me, that with personal discipline, all things in life are possible if you are willing to work for them. Without her teaching, the estimated one million words I have typed would have been difficult, if not impossible.
Two dedicated people taught me all is possible if you learn self-discipline and have a curiosity of the world around us. Mr. Shreve and Mrs. Phillips showed me education is not just in books, it is the path to becoming who we were meant to be with the help of a teacher. That’s the way I remember two great teachers’ gifts of learning as I look back Through the Lens.