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Rene’ Joseph Calais – Elementary Education, 1954

Rene’ Joseph Calais

Elementary Education, 1954

            When I returned from serving in Korea with the occupational forces, I decided that I would attend SLI to pursue a degree in elementary education. At that time hundreds of veterans, such as myself, were interested in obtaining a college education. I was deeply impressed with the seriousness with which these veterans handled themselves in and out of the classroom. If memory serves me correctly, the enrollment at that time was between two and three thousand students.

            Most of my classes were held in Girard Hall, Martin Hall, Mouton Hall, the old men’s gymnasium and classrooms in Vet Village. Some of the professors that I can distinctly remember are: Mrs. Buchanan (math), Dr. Monk (math), Dr. Claycomb (botany and zoology), Mr. Edney (p.e.), Mr. Stevenson (p.e.), Mrs. Gehring (library science), Dr. Delarue (history), and many others. I can still recall Mrs. Buchanan using a rag to wipe her hands after having erased the chalkboards

I can still recall trying to keep up with Dr. Monk when exchanging classes and having to walk all the way to vet village. I can also recall listening to Al Terry on record in Dr. Claycombs class–which was a special treat from him once our work had been completed. I can recall walking all the way to Heymann’s downtown to eat a half order of lunch for twenty-five cents. This was one of the things that I did in order to make ends meet. I can distinctly recall taking education classes with Gladys Robinette, Dr. Turner, Mr. Zernott, Dr. May and others.

At that time, all students did their practice work at the Hamilton Laboratory School. Mr. Kit Carson was the principal and Sabra Watkins was my supervising teacher. I truly cherished every minute of my college career, especially my senior year when I was directly involved with children. At that time SLI had, in my opinion, a superior teacher training program which benefited education majors and children alike.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to return to SLI (after teaching only one year in public schools) as a seventh grade supervising teacher at the Hamilton Laboratory School. The ten years that I spent as a supervising teacher were very memorable. Teaching alongside so many devoted and superior classroom teachers is an experience I will never forget.

At that time the laboratory school received very little financial support from the college administration, and we often had to spend money out of our own pockets to purchase some of the materials needed in teaching. For six of the ten years that I spent at the laboratory school, I taught methods courses in areas of science and social studies. The task of training future teachers was quite challenging to say the least. The teachers who made the greatest impression on my career were Gladys Robinette, Dr. Robert E. May and Sabra Watkins, my supervising teacher. Miss Watkins was one of a kind in that she knew how to motivate the students and she knew how to discipline the class. Additionally, she worked very hard to make each lesson interesting and challenging.

I have always been interested in athletics. Dating back to my first years on campus, I would attend track meets at McNaspy Stadium and basketball games in what is now the women’s gymnasium. I have attended every basketball game and every track meet since 1949 …  the year that I first attended SLI.