I plan to occasionally focus my Yesteryear spotlight on some individual and indicate why he or she deserves such an accolade. My first offering is Miss Gordon Grubbs, one of my two sixth grade teachers at Henry Johnson School during 1954-55. Miss Grubbs taught geography, one of my least favorite subjects.
This stately lady devised an ingenious scheme for getting her students to better appreciate the class. She announced the formation of the Super Sticker Stamp Club, a weekly voluntary gathering that met after school in her classroom. This teacher astutely coupled our need to learn about the diverse physical, biological, and cultural features of the earth's surface with our enjoyment of a hobby that included the swapping of postage stamps from all over the world. Those students who did not have stamp albums quickly acquired one so they could partake in the exciting world of philately.
Our first order of business was to choose club officers. I became president, probably because of my reasonably large stamp collection, obtained primarily from Pat’s Trading Post on Spring Street. Miss Grubbs asked me if I understood Robert’s Rules of Order. For some strange reason, I responded in the affirmative, although I knew nothing of Robert or his orderly rules. After I attempted to convene my first club get-together, the first order of business quickly became for me to learn the proper way to conduct a meeting.
Our club’s setting became spontaneous and laid-back, nothing like our geography class. Everything was relaxed and informal – talking softly without permission, wandering around the room at will and making short impromptu presentations.
Miss Grubbs wisely and discreetly maintained a list of discussion questions to keep the meeting moving at a reasonable pace: What is your largest (or smallest) stamp? What is your prettiest (or ugliest) stamp? “What country represents a place you would like to visit? Show us a stamp from a country that you have visited. What country do you know the least about? This process evoked numerous responses from students as we hovered around each other in somewhat of a “show and tell” format. This was absolutely more enjoyable than sitting through a stiff geography class.
The Super Sticker Stamp Club afforded us time at the end for trading stamps. Our teacher basically turned the meeting over to us at this point. On one special occasion, Miss Grubbs had each of us give her a self-addressed envelope with our name and the school’s Market Street address on it. Shortly, the envelopes returned to us via U.S. mail, containing a new twenty-cent “special delivery” stamp, postmarked as a “First Day of Issue.”
A Young Miss Gordon Grubbs, A First Day of Issue She Acquired for Her Students
A regular three-cent Jefferson stamp was also affixed to it postmarked “9 am; October 13, 1954; Boston, Mass.” Our selfless teacher spent her own money on her students. Inside my envelope was a letter that read: “Dear Robert: This ‘First Day Cover’ of the new Special Delivery stamp is a little gift from me to each member of the ‘Super Sticker Stamp Club’ … Very sincerely … Miss Grubbs.” It was dated October 4, 1954.
Today, I cannot drive by that old W. Market Street building without thinking about a gifted teacher with a creative imagination that transformed a potentially jaded subject into a pleasurable interactive learning experience.