Welcome Letter to her
High School English Class, 1953
Elva W. Grow (1909 – 2004)
September 7, 1953
As many of you learned Friday, I am to be your new English teacher this year — not just exactly new, as you can tell from my prominent grey hairs and a few other marks of time. At least, I may be new to some of you. Some of your mothers and fathers can tell you that I am not new to Miller County school system., because some of them were once my pupils. Although my recollections of past years are most pleasant, I assure you that I shall try not to bore you with too many reminiscences, because, to tell you the truth, I am not yet old enough to spend much time in looking back. I still get a thrill out of looking forward to the excitement of each new day and each new friend.
I feel much of that excitement when I think of our year together which lies just ahead of us. I hope that we can share some very pleasant learning, experiences, for, after all, there is much that I can learn from you, and I trust that there will be some things which you may learn from me. Frankly, I am not a strong believer in the value of too much factual material in teaching, but I do believe that I can tell whether you are learning by your actions and by the thoughts which you express.
I have no doubt that our experiences in the language arts will be happy ones; however, there is always a possibility of misunderstandings and disagreements. I am sure that any of these can be settled in a polite and friendly manner. I want you to know that it shall be my policy never to embarrass you before the class and to have as many private conferences with you as possible. In this way, we can clear up any misunderstandings which have arisen or we can work on any phase of your class work with which you may need help.
If we are to spend a great deal of time together this year, it may be good to know as much as possible about each other. For background on myself, I shall give you a brief autobiographical sketch and some comments about things I like best, some of the things I have done, and things I hope to do.
I was the third daughter born to my parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. O. White, Sr., of Pearson, Georgia. Incidentally, there were six of these daughters and one son. I sometimes teased my mother and told her that I was like the third verse of a song — always left out; however, she knew that I really didn’t mean it and that I considered myself a very lucky person to be born to such wonderful parents.
After completing high school in my home town, I attended Norman Junior College, University of Georgia, and Bessie Tift College, graduating from the latter institution in 1929. Since that time, I have attended Emory University, University of Georgia, and Florida State University. At Florida State, I completed the program toward the Master of Arts Degree in August, 1953.
My teaching experiences have been varied, ranging from grades one through eleven. Most of my work has been done in the English Department of Miller County High School where I began work in 1930,
In 1931, 1 was married to William Alton (Bill) Grow, Sr., who was then principal of Colquitt Elementary School. He had been married before and was the father of a little daughter, Sherrie, whose mother had died of a heart attack when Sherrie was only two weeks of age.
In addition to our daughter, we have three sons Billy, David, and Gerald. I am sure that at least two of these are well-known to you.
With a busy life consisting of going to school, teaching, rearing a family, working in the store with my husband, serving one term as County Superintendent of Schools and giving some time to church and community activities, I really have not had much time for the cultivation of hobbies; however, if there are any hobbies which I can claim, I suppose that they are: reading, going to school, and cooking. Yes, believe it or not, I like to cook. of the three, reading is my favorite, and it is in this pleasant recreation that I spend most of my spare time.
There is not enough space to say more about me, and, besides, I want to know about you. Won’t you tell me something of your life up to now? Where and when were you born? Who are your parents? Your brothers and sisters? Were have you attended school? Where have you lived? How many times have you ever moved? What are some of the most exciting things that have ever happened in your life? What kind of person do you like for your close friend? What do you think about going steady? What are your hobbies? What habits do you wish to cultivate or break? What is your ambition in life? Do you believe that you have a chance of realizing it?
I would like to know also what you think about this school, as well as what you dislike about it. Maybe you could suggest ideas for making a better high school. Do you like our school spirit? Do you believe that we are good sports at our games? Do you believe that our student body ever feels loyal and united to each other? If we do not, do you ever wonder why?
Are you satisfied with the progress you have made in school? If not, how can you explain it? If you had to grade yourself, what grade could you honestly give? Have you really tried to put something into your classes, or have you attended because you had to do so? Is there some special phase of speaking or writing in which you do not feel sure of yourself? Are you sometimes embarrassed because you do not know the right thing to say in the company of strangers?
I sincerely hope that I have hit upon some of the things in which you are interested, but, if I have not, could you just toll me about them in your own way? What you say in your reply will have no influence upon your grade in English this period; however, it will go far toward establishing a good understanding between us.
Incidentally, you may rest assured that your reply will be held in strictest confidence. I shall not discuss you and your affairs with anyone else but you. You will not be required to read your reply to the class.
May I say again that I really am looking forward to our year together, and I hope that, at the end of the year, you will be able to say, “It was a good year.”
Elva W. Grow
(Mrs. W. A. Grow)
Found among my mother’s papers after her death in 2004.
Gerald Grow’s Home Page