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Life lessons from Miss Moss

 

Miss Zora Moss (1903-1981) was a master teacher. Most people in our community quickly identify her as Lamont High School’s excellent English and speech teacher. However, Miss Moss was much more than the town’s high school English teacher. She used her English and speech teaching skills as tools for preparing her students for their future lives. She also taught them how to develop strong character, how to become productive adults, and how to be leaders of the future.

It was a long-standing tradition in Lamont, Okla., that for a period of time after dark on Halloween evening, the area youth would tip over a few out-houses, open a few fire hydrants in town, soap the windows on the downtown store-fronts, break open some pumpkins or watermelons on main street, etc. As these activities were going on, some kids would be busy spying-on/watching the town’s loyal night watchman, who was busy chasing kids in one part of town while another bunch of kids was at work in another area.

About 1950, Miss Moss’s second floor English classroom featured in Lamont’s main actually monumental Halloween activity for that year. Someway or other, using a method unknown to this writer, some of the upper classmen, at the end of the school day, arranged for a door into the school to be left unlocked. Later that night they used that open door to get into the school building. They went to Miss Moss’s second-floor English room, quietly removed all of the desks and furniture from her classroom out through its fire escape door and placed it all on the flat roof of the adjacent single-story grade school building a building that had been attached to the older, taller, two-story school building.

Once the English room was vacant, they brought in a billy goat they had gorged with feed in preparation for this event. Then they generously drenched the goat with an Epsom Salt laxative, put him in the empty room, bade him “good night,” and closed the door behind them. Finally, they locked the building as they went home for the night Halloween was over. The only thing left was for them to wait until morning!

The next morning as the students arrived, the high school students were all asked to go to Study Hall until time for classes to begin. Just before classes would have begun, an announcement came over the school’s PA system. It was the principal, asking all senior boys to report to Miss Moss’ English room.

When they arrived, they found the custodian had stacked mops, brooms, shovels, and other cleaning materials in the hallway. And he was standing there in the hall with Miss Moss, who instructed the boys to go into the room, get their goat, then take the equipment provided to clean, mop, and completely restore what had, during the night, become a rather messy English room.

When the room was clean enough to pass Miss Moss’ inspection, she asked that the desks all be brought back into the room. When each desk was back in its usual place, she began her class without further comment concerning the activities of Halloween night.

With her silence, Miss Moss had spoken very clearly to the guilt-ridden students. Once the room was restored, the only visible evidence that anything unusual happened was the “egg” showing on the faces of the perpetrators.

Yes, she was a wonderful English teacher; her teaching skills, however, weren’t limited to English.

Ken and Nan Webster have collected inspiration for many years from many sources, and now inspire readers of “A Matter That Matters.” Contact them at kennanco@gmail.com or visit www.kennancompany.com.

 
 
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