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A Teacher at Heart

A straight column of children 2 by 2 march like army soldiers to one destination, Reed’s Lake, for a field day. After their 2 to 2 1/2 mile march from school, a lunch is greatly anticipated. This first grade class of 47 is all under the watchful eye of only one chaperon, Mrs. H. Veldman.

Teaching is what she, my great grandmother, Flora Veldman did best. It’s what she enjoyed and excelled at, just as her mother did. She began her teaching in the 1930’s at the age of 20 years. She taught at many different schools including Edgerton, Hope, Adams, Kalamazoo, and Baxter Christian, in Grand Rapids. She taught for a total of about 18 years.

Mrs. Veldman began her studies at Calvin College. After 2 years, she completed her studies, and received a “Life Certificate” to be a teacher after 3 years of teaching.

Baxter Christian, in Grand Rapids, MI was her first assignment. This first class contributes to her top memories of teaching. Why? Because “This was a first grade class of 47 students.” She also recalls a “small cute girl with curly hair slapping a boy because he kissed her,” from this first class.

After 3 years at Baxter Christian, she married Rev. H. Veldman and moved to Pella, his first call as minister.

At Pella, Mrs. Veldman received a few requests for her to be a teacher, but Rev. Veldman refused saying “She may not now that she’s married.”

Later that was proved wrong when there was a need for a teacher in Edgerton which she readily excepted. Mrs. Veldman explains “Rev. Veldman wasn’t opposed to my teaching because there was a need in the Christian Schools.”

“In Edgerton,” Mrs. Veldman recalls, “I helped a young girl, that had been held in the first grade for 3 years, every day after school in the library to help her read.” Still today, she says that girl hasn’t forgotten her because the girl sends money and gifts to her on her birthdays and on Christmas.

Helping students with problems and helping those who didn’t understand things was one of her favorite parts of teaching. She loved to see “the twinkle in their eyes when they began to understand.”

The Veldmans soon moved to Michigan because of preaching duties. For a long time, the need for teachers was great. She taught at many schools whenever the need arose in the schools such as in Hope, Adams, and Kalamazoo.

In fact the need for teachers was so great Rev. Veldman taught History at one of the schools.

Mrs. Veldman comments that “all the classes were big but well behaved.” She said that generally in all the classes phonics was the hardest to teach and get across to the children.

In fact, one story she recalls—a young boy whom she had been helping everyday after school with phonics. She finally thought he understood and asked him to say a word that started with “m” (and sounded it out). He said “m… m… m… garbage can.” She proclaims “I’m not sure what I did. I probably threw my hands up.”

When asked what was her favorite part of her day she replied laughingly “recess” and then later responded “Actually it was Bible class.” She explained she loved to see the whole circle of children listening so intently and quietly.

Mrs. Veldman reminisces one incident that erupted from Bible class. A small girl had gone home after school and told her parents the Bible story. “Moses and the Israelites were lead by a clown out of Egypt.” (Clown was supposed to be cloud).

Mrs. Veldman has many wonderful memories from teaching and enjoys talking about them. ❖