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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Alcaraz

Elsie Kimbrell - Peachtree Village Retirement Community

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

Elsie Kimbrell - How I Became a Teacher:

“In 1943 I had attended two years in college in Portales and I applied in Lincoln County. And Mrs. Zola Jones was the superintendent and she offered me the job in teaching at Rabenton—a one room school. This Rabenton was located 17 miles West of White Oaks with a teacherage for the teacher to live in. The teacherage was one room divided my shelves, that came halfway up the middle of the room, giving it the effect of two rooms. I brought with me a dresser, a bed, an old phonograph and lots of records. Pots, pans and a camping stove my dad got from somewhere to keep the little house warm and for me to cook on.”

Elsie Kimbrell - Describing the Classroom

“The school was located West of the little teacherage. It was a one room building with two windows and a door facing South. Inside the room on the North wall was a chalk board, a place for the children to hang their coats and a shelf for their lunches. The West wall was a bulletin board with a teacher’s desk in front of it. The East wall had a big pot belly stove that kept the school warm and also served as a cook stove. It was required that a hot dish be served to supplement the children’s lunch. The older boys often had to split the large logs so they would fit into the stove. At that time there were five families living in Rabenton, I had no near neighbors. There were twelve children in school, the children all walked to school except for two boys that rode horseback from their grandfathers ranch.”

Elsie Kimbrell - Being a Teacher

“The children carried their books and their sack lunch. School started promptly at 8:30am regardless of weather. I had already been to the school an hour earlier to start the fire in the pot belly stove to warm the school by the time the children got there. There were twelve children in grades pre-first through eighth. The teacher’s desk was in front of the room facing East. The children’s desks were facing the teacher’s desk with the smaller children sitting in the front, the older children in the back. Reading, arithmetic, language, spelling and writing were to be covered every day. With eight grades in one room it was hard to cover all the classes. However, when the older children had finished their work, they would help with the younger children. They would hear them read, drill them in the new spelling words, help them with their numbers and so on.”

Elsie Kimbrell - In My Classroom Part 1

“I had a little girl who spoke in a whisper which I should’ve done *laughs* I shouldn’t have said that but… she spoke in a whisper and I had to sit close to her and listen to her recitations. The older children would help me with her, they would drill her with the new words. They helped the other young children with their numbers and the spelling and the things they could drill the younger children on. The children worked hard at their lessons. Every now and then one of the children would go and put wood in the stove to keep the fire going or the boys would go outside and bring in wood. The girls would get up and stir whatever we were cooking and add water to it.”

Elsie Kimbrell - In My Classroom Part 2

“It was required that we have a hot dish to go with the children’s lunch that they brought from home. The boys brought in the water for drinking, cooking and washing dishes. Each child had a drinking cup and a bowl for their hot dish. At noon the children would sit at their desks and eat their sack lunch and the hot dish we had prepared for that day. Often, we had pinto beans or grits. The food for the hot dish was provided by the school lunch program. Recess was free time. The children played outside… whatever they desired and if the weather was bad, they played indoors. The school was dismissed at 4pm, there was no janitor."

Elsie Kimbrell - In My Classroom Part 3

“So after school I would have to sweep the room, clean the chalk boards and get the room ready for the next day. Sometimes one of the older children would stay and help me to prepare the room for the next day. The people in Rabenton were very nice. They were wonderful. They would bring me the supplies from Carrizozo from the superintendent’s office. They brought the commodities for the lunches and they were just wonderful. They cooperated in every way they could. Anything that I needed from Carrizozo they would be willing to go and bring them. I had no means of transportation. They brought my mail from the post office at White Oaks."

Elsie Kimbrell - My Student and the Dentist

“One time I had a tooth ache and my older girl that was in the eighth grade came and she said, “My father is going to Carrizozo tomorrow if you want to go to the dentist.” And I said, “If you go with me…” and she said, “Yes, I will go with you.” I went to Carrizozo to the dentist and all he did was tell me that I was cutting the wisdom tooth and for me to wash my mouth out with salt water. I enjoyed my teaching in Rabenton very much. I was there for one year and the next year I went to a bigger school. I have not ever gone back to Rabenton, but I will never forget it. It was a time where I had a very pleasant experience despite of the hardships.”

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