By Mahlon Miller
Editor’s Note:” Mahlon Miller is an Old Order Amish school-teacher in northern Indiana. He and his wife, Marietta, have four daughters.
“Some people are wise, some are otherwise”
The quote made me smile when I got it two years ago and I still like it. I like it partly for the quote, and partly for the person who gave it to me.
Two years ago, we had only two eighth graders, both girls. It was, in some ways, one of the best classes I’ve had. Both girls enjoyed things that appeal to the finer senses; drawing, shading, creating, singing, intellectual discussions, etc.
Both learned easily and did not need a lot of extra help. Best of all, both appreciated their teacher, and brought cookies and jelly rolls and things like that for him (the him, being “me”, and that was great!)
One day a tray a ‘fruit” showed up on my desk. The tray was fashioned from tablet paper, and the fruit was small sticky notes shaped like apples, oranges and lemons. On each note was a quote from Proverbs. Attached was a note from eighth grader Miriam that said, “Thought you might like some fruit, have one every day for good health : )”.
When I start reminiscing, I can hardly get stopped. I think about the programs we’ve done, conversations we’ve had, and games we’ve played. Special times I’m afraid I’ll forget, and not so special times I wish I could forget. In memory, the bad days soon fade, and the good days get better.
I remember helping my third and fourth grade girls carve their initials into the big beech tree in the neighbor’s woods while we were on a hike. I remember helping my first grade boys make bailer twine harnesses and playing horsey with them five years ago. I think about the canoeing trip I took with the boys, and my homemade German lessons the eighth graders put up with 3 years ago.
I think of essays and poems my students wrote for their English assignments. One memory leads to another leads to another leads to another. I wonder how I would ever contain all my “treasures” if I had a 20 or 30 year career as many teachers do.
Last year I started taking some steps towards preserving some of the memories by making extra copies of all of the students writing assignments. These I’m filing in a drawer at home, and every so often I go through them, reading them and thinking back. Occasionally I might share one in the column.
Note from Editor Kevin: Mahlon offered several student essay options for me to share this week but time was scarce on my end to re-type items, so I selected this “mini book report” by an Amish girl named Doreen who really has experienced a lot of tragedy, including the loss of a 6-year-old brother in a farm accident. The book mentioned in the mini-report sounds interesting. Have any of our readers heard of it?
Hold Them Near
Doreen, Grade 6
Hold the Mirror was written by Catherine Beachy Yoder. The beginning of this biography happened on a farm in a small community near Plain City, OH. Noah and Sara lost some children one by one due to heart failure.
Their son dies on the couch while he’s sleeping. Oh what a shock that was for them. Mother Sara truthfully brings up her children and is brave through many sorrows.
It teaches to have faith in God at all times. It is touching how they had so many deaths, and it is also true.