Holiness in our Midst: Session 71

Holiness in our Midst


Share how a teacher influenced your life.

I was only in the company of the teacher who most influenced my life for 15 minutes. Her name was Mrs. Talbot, and she taught in the combined third and fourth grade classroom at the K-12 Fernald (IA) Consolidated School in the mid-Fifties. I was a second grader, being escorted to her classroom to determine if I read well enough to advance a grade. I whizzed through the pages in an advanced reader. After all, I had read 80 books in a reading contest (and won!) in the first part of my school year. Mrs. Talbot suddenly asked me to stop reading, closed the book, and said these life-altering words: “Young Lady, don’t you ever, ever read ahead!” “Okay,” I said. The following month, I moved away, so I never learned her verdict on skipping a grade. Nor did I ever understand the reason for the words. I only knew that they were said with a frowny face and enough gravity and force that they stuck with me. To this day, I don’t read tomorrow’s daily devotionals today.

In retrospect, this teacher’s influence proved to be both detrimental and helpful. On the negative side, I never worked on or anticipated future assignments throughout my schooling, I was a good but not outstanding student. After college, I didn’t spend enough time looking out for my personal future.

On the positive side, as a writer type, I owe Mrs. Talbot a debt of gratitude. In following her warning, I have stayed rooted to the day at hand, immersing myself in the lives of people along my path, in rural Iowa or far-away mission sites, and recording their everyday stories in magazines and newspapers. My religion involves seeing God in the ordinary and encouraging others to do the same. My writings are a record of the sweet, quirky meandering journey, even as I continue to spend more time looking around at today’s scenery than mapping the road ahead.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: How was your life changed by a teacher?


  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Remember on paper an influential teacher and his/her life lessons.


  1.   Read aloud Session LXXI.
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

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