Mrs. Ina Haeussler - Rural Teacher

By dhowell - Posted on 02 January 2008

Mrs. Ina Haeussler resigned after a 28-year teaching career. She taught school for six years before her marriage and returned to the profession in
1944. She has held offices in the local, district and regional Michigan Education Association and has just finished three years as local treasurer of the MEA.

She was employed at the Short School east of the village when it was consolidated with the Manchester system and she was transferred to teach the fourth grade.

When enrollment reached a new high and two rural schools were put into use again she returned to the third grade in one of these.

It was no hardship for Mrs. Haeussler to teach in the country school-even though she had only one grade the second time around. She liked the variation of different classes. School enrollments ranged from 15 to 42 and she doesn't remember when she didn't have at least one child in each grade, kindergarten through eighth.

There was more to being a country school teacher than met the eye. The teacher tried to be at school at 7:30 a.m. and the children came at 9 a.m. In the winter there were paths to be shoveled, not only to the road, but also to a couple of "little buildings" not too far away. Another path led to the pump. A pail of water had to be brought in. Everyone used the dipper.

Often on an icy cold Sunday, she and her husband, Erwin, would drive to school and start the fire so it wouldn't be so chilly Monday morning.

With school out for the children at 4 p.m. the teacher would find herself sweeping and cleaning to prepare for another day.

There was a closeness and friendliness in the country school that is lacking in the larger systems. Older children accept the responsibility of caring for the little ones. At recess they taught youngsters to play games and how to get along with one another and helped them in and out of their heavy wraps.

"Children no longer come to school barefooted," she recalled. "One early spring a family of children came barefooted. About noon it started to snow and continued all afternoon. They were worried. I suggested that the bigger boys help me by chopping kindling after school and the younger ones help put the room in order so I could leave a little early and I would take them home. They were so happy!"

In those days you didn't miss school because of the weather-at least the teacher didn't. But if there was sickness or some major reason for not having school the teacher and children made it up at the end of the year.

The highlight of the year was the Christmas program. The children were given parts to learn around Thanksgiving. Parents helped and loaned furniture and other props. The night of nights came and the little country school would bulge at the seams with relatives, friends and folks in the area, with or without children.

The teacher provided a gift for each child. It was expected and she did it gladly.

With the close of school was another treat. Sometimes Mrs. Haeussler chartered a bus for a field trip, maybe to Greenfield Village or the zoo. This was her party. Occasionally parents offered to drive and take a load of youngsters.

She said she tried to plan something to give the rural children an opportunity to know some of the things that their city cousins took for granted.

Children are far more advanced today for their age than they were when she launched on a teaching career, said Mrs. Haeussler. But in the rush and hurry of today, she believes some important things are lost along the way.

With a teacher so devoted, it was understandable that when one of her former students, not yet in high school, on hearing that Mrs. Haeussler was leaving, rushed up and grasped her hand, "You aren't leaving? You just can't."