The Thread That Runs So True Essays

First published in 1949, Jesse Stuart's now classic personal account of his 20 years of teaching in the mountain region of Kentucky has enchanted & inspired generations of students & teachers. With eloquence & wit, Stuart traces his 20 year career in education, which began, when he was only seventeen years old, with teaching grades 1 through 8 in a one-room schFirst published in 1949, Jesse Stuart's now classic personal account of his 20 years of teaching in the mountain region of Kentucky has enchanted & inspired generations of students & teachers. With eloquence & wit, Stuart traces his 20 year career in education, which began, when he was only seventeen years old, with teaching grades 1 through 8 in a one-room schoolhouse. Before long Stuart was on a path that made him principal & finally superintendent of city & county schools. The road was not smooth, however, & Stuart faced many challenges, from students who were considerably older- & bigger- than he to well-meaning but distrustful parents, uncooperative administrators, & most daunting, his own fear of failure. Through it all, Stuart never lost his abiding faith in the power of education. A graceful ode to what he considered the greatest profession there is, Jesse Stuart's The Thread That Runs So True is timeless proof that good teaching is forever and the teacher is immortal....more

Paperback, 304 pages

Published January 1st 1950 by Touchstone (first published August 15th 1949)

Jesse Stuart was only sixteen when he began his teaching career at the one-room Lonesome Valley School in rural Kentucky. He had not planned on a teaching career and, in fact, had not completed his own high school education at the time. Nevertheless, having gone by mistake into a room where the county school board was testing teacher candidates, he decided to try the exam. He passed it and received a second-class certificate, which permitted him to teach the lower grades. He chose to go to Lonesome Valley School because his older sister had taught there and had been beaten up by the school bullies; Stuart enjoyed a challenge. In The Thread That Runs So True, he tells of the challenges he faced as a classroom teacher and school administrator in the Kentucky rural school system of the Depression years.

At Lonesome Valley School, Stuart learned how to engage his students’ interest and win their respect. He learned how to improvise in a classroom when books and supplies were not available. He learned how to help his students apply their lessons to their everyday tasks and take pride in their accomplishments. Finally, he experienced the frustration of coping with politically elected school trustees, sometimes themselves illiterate, who ruled the teachers and curriculum in accordance with their private wishes.

After his initiation at Lonesome Valley, Stuart went on to obtain his own high school diploma. He then worked his way through Lincoln Memorial University in three years and received a baccalaureate degree in 1929. He took a straight academic program, not a teacher-training course, because he did not intend to go into teaching as a career. He thought to combine farming in his Kentucky homeland with a career of writing about the richness of life there. He left Lincoln Memorial in debt, however, and had to seek more immediate sources of income. Stuart worked for a year in the local steel mill but subsequently was persuaded to become the only teacher in a fourteen-student, rural high school for one hundred dollars per month. Though he had to scramble to keep ahead of them in their courses, his students excelled, winning prizes in competitions with larger and better financed high schools in the city system. Stuart became committed to fighting rural illiteracy and the impoverished, politicized school system that...

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