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Kump Education Teacher Tree commentary

One of the best outcomes of our new project honoring teachers with an apple on our tree wall is seeing what donors have to say about great teachers they remember.

Thoughtful teachers make opportunities to help students realize the significance of events occurring during their school days.

Current events are the makings of recent history that students will need to understand when they become voting citizens in a democratic society.

A longtime supporter of Kump Education Center is Grace Wilson Sundelin, who chose to honor her high school English teacher and debate coach, Mrs. Miriam Dryden. This teacher not only encouraged an interest in the news; she also helped students think critically about current events and the future they would experience as adults.

Grace describes her teacher as follows:

“The launch of the first Earth satellite, Sputnik, by the Russians in 1957 monopolized U.S. attention and interest in advanced science and space travel.

“With the Space Race as a part of the Cold War, clearly Russia had grabbed first place. While U.S. space scientists pushed to get ahead, politicians and educators rushed to examine high school curriculums and teaching methods.

“North Central High School, my high school in Indianapolis, Indiana, strive to be at the forefront by increasing the number of advanced classes and adding Russian as a foreign language option.

“Concern about the Cold War seemed to be everywhere. Interest in Russia exploded, and that year the Indiana State Forensic Association selected as its high school debate topic: ‘Resolved: That the United States Should Adopt the Russian System of Education.’

“As a member of the North Central Interscholastic Debate Team, I studied and practiced for debates throughout the state.

“Mrs. Miriam Dryden, my English and Speech teacher, was also my debate coach. She was an enthusiast with high expectations and a stickler for supporting details.

“In addition, she helped us master the strict rules of debate. Hours of preparations required logical arguments, evidence, and no ad hominem attacks.

“With her encouragement, Mrs. Dryden pushed us to become proficient in arguing both sides of the resolution, and to respect other points of view.

“It wasn’t until years later that I realized how special my time with Mrs. Dryden had been. The ultimate outcome was that I learned appreciation for both sides of an issue and respect for those who see the moon in a different light. Not only now, but throughout my life, my experience and training with Mrs. Dyer has been invaluable.”

This great teacher helped students to see their opponents as thoughtful human beings, not enemies.

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