Miss Georgia Whitmire's First Job

Miss Georgia Whitmire’s First Job


By Elton Camp

            People have to learn their jobs through practice and experience.  I’ve often wondered how many patients a new doctor may kill or harm before he gets it all pulled together.  Teachers gain competence in the same way, but the risk is academic crippling of students rather than physical harm.  Fortunately, complete recovery usually takes place as the students progress through the grades. 

            In the fourth grade I was assigned to the class of a newly-graduated young teacher named Miss Georgia Whitmire. Although she was well intentioned, worked hard and seemed intelligent, she was largely ineffective for one main reason. To control the children was largely beyond her power.  In the midst of chaos, little learning could take place.  The refrain with which she attempted to enforce order was the expression, “Children, let’s be democratic.”   I doubt that a single one, including me, knew what that meant or how it had any relevance to our classroom.  Despotism on her part, not democracy, was desperately needed. 

            The worst boy in the class was Robert Centers.  He made her life miserable with constant interruptions and blatant insubordination.  When he beyond what she could bear, she had the class vote as to whether he should be sent to the principal or if she should paddle him in the room.  That was a part of her idea of “democracy” I suppose.  The majority ruled even in such matters.  The class always voted for him to go to the principal since that was about the most horrible fate that could befall any student. However flawed, it was democracy in action. It’s no wonder the Founding Fathers set up a republic without intending that it degenerate into a democracy.  “I’d rather see her whip him in front of the class,” one boy often protested.  The majority overruled him. 

            Miss Whitmire lived on “Million Dollar Avenue,” the local name for East Main Street.  Everyone, except those who lived there, used that pretentious name.  A large, brick, white-columned mansion was her residence. That puzzled me as I thought only somebody rich could possibly live in a house as splendid as that.  She merely rented a room as I later learned.  That house still stands and I think of her every time we pass.

            She had blond hair, fair skin, and blue eyes.   I thought she was quite beautiful. Most likely she was only ordinary in appearance, but she has remained young and attractive in the time-trap of my memory. If still living, she’d now be well into her eighties. An old Miss Whitmire isn’t something I want to envision.

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