My family attended this movie at the Amery Theater in the mid-1950s, and I remember some of the images and scenes to this day. My mom had taught in one room schools during the Depression years, and she thought this movie would be fun for our entire family, all four of us.
Think of the strictest teacher you ever had, then add more strictness. Think of the Queen of England teaching a class and how that might turn out. Below is a description of her character and firm will among grade school kids, first through fifth grades. I’ve paraphrased the author’s words below, helping the reader get a sense of the regal Miss Dove.
On this school morning, in home-rooms the kids gauged the various moods of various teachers. When it came to Miss Dove, however, they dropped their speculation for one good reason: Miss Dove had no moods. Miss Dove was a certainty. She would be today what she had been yesterday and would be tomorrow. And so, within limits, would the students. Single file they entered her room, each greeting her with, “Good morning, Miss Dove,” and in turn she’d look directly at each and greet them with “good morning” along with their name. No informality in this classroom, and the kids would go to their appointed desks while Miss Dove stepped up on the platform that held her desk. The day’s lesson would begin.
Without giving away the story, the stoic and independent school marm develops a physical ailment which means she has to lower herself and ask for help and understanding from the community. In reading this book again, I have to say that author Patton nailed the teaching/ student dynamic. She either interviewed a number of teachers or she taught elementary school for several years.