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Keep Trying: a faith based story from the Story Powerline
Wednesday, January 13, 2021 by Laura Jane Cerling

It must have been 1930 when Inez Stover first began to teach in our town. She arrived in Elmhurst, Illinois full of idealism.

Unfortunately, her first sixth grade class had a crowd of boisterous, rebellious boys. Some of them resented being transferred from the school they had previously attended. They wanted to show who was “top dog.” Miss Stover was their victim.

Their fertile minds devised trick after trick to destroy order in her classroom.

They found her lunch box and locked it in the cloakroom. They caught crayfish from a nearby swamp and put them in the girls’ hair. They captured a huge number of grasshoppers and let them loose in the classroom when it was empty during the noon hour. A cruel comic valentine brought tears to her eyes.

“We did so much stuff to that poor woman, I can’t remember it all,” said my older brother, who was in that class. “I don’t know why we were so mean I really liked her. I learned more from her than any of my teachers. It shows what happens when a group decides to gang up on one person.”

At the end of that first school year, Miss Stover’s doctor advised complete rest if she was to teach again in the fall.

She did return, and when it was my turn to be her student, I also profited from this talented woman. She was intent on planting positive qualities in her students’ lives. She had particularly fine handwriting, and she used penmanship exercises to introduce us to quotations such as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Years later a chance meeting with Miss Stover changed my life.

She invited me to join her Sunday School class of high school girls. I was too shy to come, but she kept asking until I did. Her persistent encouragement brought about life long changes for me as I learned about God.

Miss Stover taught in the Elmhurst school system for some 40 years before she retired. She lived to be almost 100, living in a high-rise retirement complex in Elmhurst. Many children passed through her classroom, and her former students scattered around the world. They wrote or phoned her, making personal visits when they were in town. Her correspondence list was long, yet she faithfully wrote, sending reminders again of the admirable thoughts she tried to instill in their youth.

Miss Stover’s life showed the truth of these words from the apostle James:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

A Prayer for Today

“Thank you, God, for putting a people like Inez Stover into the lives of young people. Help me to follow her example of persistence in doing what is right when things get discouraging. Amen.” 

© 1998 Laura Jane Cerling

For more family stories from Laura Jane Cerling check out My Roots Go Back to Loving and other stories from “Year of the Family” compiled by Becky Cerling Powers

Reprint with attribution only

https://beckypowers.com/

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