Being A Teacher Is A Lot More Than In Contract
By W. P. Sissell
As I grew up on our farm out on The Mudline, I never dreamed of being a teacher – not even an agriculture teacher. My degree at Mississippi State was in beef cattle production, though I had grown up on a dairy farm.
One fall, shortly after the beginning of school, Nannette was stricken with inner-ear trouble. Since it was the fall and I had little to do on the farm in the winter, I substituted for her and loved it. We had just moved to the farm at Batesville, and were growing into the cattle business. We had two men who could handle the small beginning herd. Rather than let one of these men go, I looked into what I would need to do to qualify for the open science position at Crowder High School. Qualification was relatively easy and I completed the work in two semesters – which I could do in the summer and at night.
There were many things that I would learn about being a teacher that are not written in the contract. Being a class sponsor was just one of these things. Nannette and I made many senior trips with a class that we jointly sponsored, along with J. B. Petrea. After “begging” for money from all over the county we had the class secretary send “thank you” notes. The president of one large company called, asking to speak to the secretary and the sponsor. His remark was that they had never been officially thanked for a donation before.
When I took the position at Crowder I agreed to stay three years. I had done my practice teaching under a friend at Batesville High School. At the end of the three years at Crowder, I got a call to come by the Batesville High School office. I was offered a position there by Mr. Hamlin, teaching science in the junior high and high school.
In a short time I became one of the sponsors for a class. One of my jobs was to assist in directing a play (Nannette and I had done this together at Crowder and it had been a lot of fun), but Nannett was still at Crowder. The play went okay, but homecoming was a little different. When I got to the football field the two young ladies who were supposed to be in charge of the practice were in tears. One of the mothers of the girls in the homecoming had taken over the practice. It just so happened that her idea was in direct conflict with what Coach Hamby had requested. When I explained this to the lady my girls stopped crying. By the way both these girls became teachers.
Sometimes those mothers do make life interesting. There was another occasion along these same lines. Mother wanted the recorder in the press box to be playing. Both mother and daughter were friends of ours. The only trouble was that Mr. Hamlin forgot to leave the key to said press box with me, and he was in Jackson. Mamma said, “Bill Sissell, I’m going to kick that window out.” I replied, “Go right ahead, then I can use the phone that you can see there to call the police.”
Back at Crowder they had no band, so J. B. Petrea and I hooked up a record player to the public address system and played the National Anthem (J. B. Petrea playing the Mount Olivet organ).
Alfred Reed and I used to get together and talk about the trials and tribulations of school people,. It is very worth while when a former student tells you, “I suddenly realized that all that junk Mr. Sissell tried to get us to learn will work and the rest of the class looked to me for help.” Recently, at a class reunion, one of those guys addressed me as Mr. Factor Label. He is a dentist in Jackson.
We still have snow hanging around. It is pretty but many animals, and humans too, have a hard time during this harsh weather. Do hope you had a happy Valentine Day.