A Nostalgic Glance Back to Henry Johnson School, 1950-55

I attended the first grade at West Side School (1949-50) and grades two through six at Henry Johnson School  (1951-55). PTA was held on the third Wednesday of each month. We usually decorated the rooms for each meeting, which usually consisted of posters we researched for assigned projects.  I had some really great teachers for my grammar school years. Let me briefly comment on those at Henry Johnson.

Henry Johnson School

Plaques on each side of the front doors

Second grade (1950-51), Mrs. Linnie Rowe: She really knew how to motivate me. I routinely wrote little “stories” on small pieces of paper and gave them to her to read. Not long after, she began reading them to the class, which thrilled me immensely. Her husband, Mr. Everett Rowe, would become my Junior High School principal preceding Tyson Jones within five years.

Third grade (1951-52), Miss Margaret King: She is best remembered for her interest in Cherokee Indian culture. It was during this time that I developed pneumonia and was not allowed to return to school for 15 days. My teacher, being so “thoughtful,” sent me homework assignments to do each day.

Fourth grade (1952-53), Mrs. Alf (Fannie) Taylor: She is remembered for her love of reading books to her young students. She allotted about ten minutes at the end of each school day, continuing the next day where the previous one ended. I fondly remember two books: The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) and Uncle Wiggley (Howard Garis). These books now grace my home library.

On one occasion, Mrs. Taylor learned about an incident that one of the boys did at recess. She asked us to identify the guilty perpetrator, but nobody would squeal. When school was concluded, she dismissed the girls and kept the boys in their seats. After a futile effort to get us to open up, she led us into the hallway and proceeded to whack each boy on the behind with a ruler. Her rationale was that this would at least punish the offender even if the rest of the class received the same discipline. 

Fifth grade (1953-54), Mrs. Dayton (Dorothy) Pierce: My memory comes up a bit short on her. However, my most vivid one was being sent to the basement and ultimately outside by the janitor to bring back some greenery to decorate our room for Christmas. I was the envy of my classmates. Each of us got to help deck out our room for Christmas, a chore I adored.

Sixth grade (1954-55), Miss Sophia Boring (homeroom teacher): She wrote an annual play for the school. The sixth grade class members were the “seniors” of Henry Johnson School. One of the scripts ranged from part of the class doing  the Virginia Reel to a tribute to coonskin-cap clad, Davy Crockett. Miss Boring also read stories to her class and occasionally acted them out, frequently standing on her desk to dramatize a scene. That got our attention. She introduced us to pen pals to whom we wrote. I eventually had two of them, one from Ceylon (later became Sri Lanka) and another from Australia. Miss Boring stands tall in my memory.

Sixth grade, 1954-55, Miss Gordon Browning (geography teacher): Her main contribution to my remembrance was her “Super Sticker Stamp Club.” This clever venture was designed to get students interested in geography by attending a volunteer after-school stamp-collecting club. I was elected president and presided over the meetings. Miss Browning insisted that we learn Robert’s Rules of Order and used them during the formal portion of our meetings. She cunningly had us talk about countries by using stamps, an activity which also enhanced our public speaking skills.

Music Teacher, 1950-55, Mrs. Mary Jordan: She taught all six grades using the popular New Music Horizons series. She instructed us in the basics of reading music, introduced us to several light classical favorites including her favorite, “Peter and the Wolf” and even gave us a French music lesson with the song “Alouette” (“Alouette, gentille Alouette”).

School Principal, 1950-55:  Miss Margaret Crouch was a friendly always-helpful administrator. I can still recall how pleasant she made my transition from West Side School to Henry Johnson School. I won't tell you what it means; look it up. Ah, those were the days.