My Favorite Grade School Teacher, Dale Stoelting

Today, many schools around North Carolina were closed because teachers went to Raleigh to protest how schools are funded and they are treated. When I was a kid my parents moved to Connecticut because the public schools there were so highly rated. Back in the sixties teachers were at least respected, but still not always well paid.

I think that as working conditions went the teachers in Wilton were on the high end of the scale. That being said, I am not sure they were paid enough to live in Wilton. I say this because my very favorite teacher, Dale Stoelting, who was both my fourth and sixth grade teacher rented a room to live in at someone’s house in Wilton.

I was very fortunate to have her as a teacher. My fourth grade class was extraordinary and when we moved on to fifth grade we kept in touch with Miss Stoelting even though we were in a different building. She missed our class so much she made the unusual move to change from teaching fourth to sixth grade and somehow got most of our original fourth grade back.

Having her as my teacher for two years meant that I really got to know her well. We had her over to our house for dinner, which was the most exciting thing to me. That was how I learned that she didn’t live in an apartment or a house. It seemed so wrong to me, as a child, that such an important person in my life did not earn enough to live independently in the town where she worked.

Now Wilton did not have any high density housing due to strict zoning laws. That seemed very short sighted even to me way back then. How could we attract good teachers if we don’t have any place for them to live?

The current state of the public schools in North Carolina is not a map for success. Most of the problems we have in the whole country could be solved with better education. If we want to have people to take care of us in old age, we need to do a good job educating young people today.

I would love to know what happened to Miss Stoelting. She was the kind of teacher that inspired her students to be their best. She was the first teacher who encouraged me to use my voice and stand up for what I believe in. That is priceless.

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