Gertrude Schubert was my first and second grade school teacher.  Over the Memorial Day weekend, I attended a service at her final resting place; her ashes were scattered over various “favorite spots” around Ramona, KS.  She died on Christmas Day in 2010 in Colorado, near her sons who now live in the Denver and Greeley areas.  They brought her remains back to Ramona in May so the rest of us could pay tribute to her life on earth.

Mrs. Schubert taught school for  30+ years, beginning in a one-room school house.  I  was priveleged to have her as a teacher  toward the end of her career.  She taught 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade, all in the same room at Ramona Grade School.  There were six kids in first grade, six in second grade, and two in third grade.  After noon recess, she would read “Little House in the Big Woods” and “Little House on the Prairie” to us; in fact the entire series of Laura Ingalls Wilder books to us, a chapter at a time. She would have us lay down our heads down on our desks and gave us a peppermint,or sometimes a piece of horehound candy that she provided at her own expense.  During my 2nd grade year,there were no first graders, so she just had the 12 of us.  The third graders moved up into Mrs. Meysing’s 4th, 5th, and 6th grade class……..yes, another case of one teacher handling three grades!  The population of Ramona and the surrounding area was not growing very much!  Alas, the school was consolidated and it was closed at the end of the 1967-1968 school year.

“Gertie”, as we all knew her outside the classroom (she was friends with all of our mothers!) was a great teacher and disciplinarian.  This was during the mid- and late-1960’s, when teachers had a little bit more “say” in how they ran their classrooms.  We still said the pledge of allegiance AND the Lord’s prayer every morning; even though the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled it unconstitutional some years prior to that!  And, if you got into trouble, you knew it, and so did everybody else……..and I mean EVERYBODY else!

I remember that on one assignment, I had really not put forth much effort.  I remember her scolding me for not doing my best; it had a profound influence on me for almost every assignment after that through my entire school career and into college and work life (would this meet Gertie’s standards?).   This was only one little thing…….of course, there were so many other instances when she encouraged us, praised us, and helped us learn new skills and new ideas.  She was truly the consummate educator: she played the piano, directed our school plays, taught us how to square dance, played with us sometimes at recess, and her and her and her husband Hank played ten-point pitch with all of we kids’ parents!

Sentimental hogwash, you say, and what does this have to do with the beef industry?  To that I say: never underestimate the value that family, friends, neighbors, teachers, and clergy have on the way you live your life, conduct business, raise cattle, and how you share your talents and treasures with others.  While I’ve had many positive influencers, I hope that the way I conduct myself in life reflects a little bit of the influence Gertrude Schubert had on me.  Till next time…………