As a very impressionable seventeen-year-old, I sat in the classroom of Mrs. Jean Fuller. What I learned that year was much more than twelfth grade government lessons. She was a lighthouse on a hill, a beacon for all to see and most assuredly a role model. He life, filled with fairness, honesty, justice and honor was a shining example of what many wanted to emulate.
Excepting my mother, Mrs. Fuller was the most intelligent lady I ever knew. During her long tenure as a public school teacher, she had seemingly taught every subject imaginable. From health to history, from physical education to physical science and from ethics to English, the grand spectrum of her teaching capacity was unfathomable. Though she was innately bright, it was not her literate or acutely articulate nature that most impressed me; it was her delight in being a morally upright lady.
Of relative importance to effective teaching is the relationship built between teacher and student that prepares the student for life after leaving the teacher. Now, maybe because this member of both the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy taught me government, I saw more than a glimpse of her fairness, her honesty, her justice and her honor. Though one can see these qualities are favorable to someone teaching a subject like government, I believe Mrs. Fuller was teaching foremost the lessons in how to live life.
Mrs. Fuller taught lessons in fairness. Like Atticus Finch, she taught her children (students) that they must "learn to be compassionate and understanding of the problems and conditions of life faced by other people." Each of her students was valued and, therefore, was treated with dignity and respect. Though her profession warranted such conduct, her life oozed it. Like Finch, she wanted to leave the world in a much better state than when she arrived.
Honesty, a core value of all great individuals, was the mere essence of Mrs. Fuller - a lady who, when finding even a penny, would certainly try to find the one to whom it belonged. Her lead-by-example style served all who knew her well!
Though one may be of the mind that our belief systems are learned very early in life, one may also see the relevance of continuing life experiences in molding people into what they become. Mrs. Jean Fuller, this morally sound and church-reared child, had a life filled with lessons that promoted justice - and not just because she had been taught lessons in justice but because she was witness to injustices. Living through such eras as the Great Depression and Civil Rights, she had first-hand knowledge of what life should not be like. Like Finch, she knew "There is only one place all men are created equal." To Finch it was the courtroom. To Mrs. Fuller, that place was the classroom.
Mrs. Jean Fuller's life was an open book - much like Atticus Finch's in To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm delighted many got to read it.