The Dedicated Teachers

by Dave Arnott
Texas, USA

The Dedicated Teachers

Reading was always important to my Aunt Della and Uncle Arlo. They both worked as teachers, living on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, Washington. Della worked in a hospital as the practicum instructor for nursing students at Seattle Pacific University. She continually reminded her students of the importance of reading all medical charts accurately.

Working for a liberal arts college, she also inspired her students to become “whole people,” to develop themselves through reading. A conversation with one of her nursing students would just as likely be about Shakespeare or Chaucer as about medical terminology.

Reading was very important to Arlo, who taught in elementary and middle schools in Queen Anne. He was a creative, innovative teacher. He balanced discipline with love as carefully as anyone who has ever been in a classroom. Going to the library was a treat when Arlo was scheduled to volunteer to read a book aloud to children. When he read “The Three Bears” he expressively put on the great big gruff voice of the Papa Bear and the little squeaky voice of the Baby Bear.

Arlo and Della raised their two children in the comfort of an old house that Arlo restored. When asked how he learned the skills he used in house restoration, he would answer, “I read it in a book. There’s a lot to learn from books.”

As parents they taught their two children to read, setting an example with a regular reading time in their home, where all four family members spent time reading. They helped each child start their own collection of books.

Arlo spent many hours outside the school teaching struggling students to read. “Reading is the greatest gift we can give to others,” was the dicta of his life’s work. Many Seattle area students learned to read from his patient, persistent instruction.

After retiring Arlo and Della bought a Laundromat as an investment. By poring over a repair manual, Arlo kept the machines in top running order. Plus, even though the place was designed to be self-service, he was such a helpful person that he often pitched in to help someone who had an extra large pile of laundry to do.

One day a customer Arlo did not recognize entered the Laundromat. She was a young adult who obviously had several children because she had a huge pile of laundry to do. As she sorted the clothes into the machines, Arlo approached and asked “May I help you?”

“You already have,” she responded. “You taught me to read when I was in the sixth grade.”

Author Dave Arnott’s website is

Originally published as HeroicStories #403 on 24 April 2003

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