Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Benton Community 50 Years - Logan Impact

I've had many great teachers in my schooling and two of them have taught many of the Bridgewater children.  The Logan's know the Bridgewater's well.  Jan taught at least 1/2 of the ten original Bridgewater children and Don had all of us in some capacity as a classroom teacher or counselor!  And those numbers don't include the 2nd generation of Bridgewater's they've had!  In honor of their service to the Bridgewater's and Benton Community, I think both Jan and Don need to be taken out to eat by our parents!

Don and Jan Logan came to BC in the fall of 1970 for a very simple reason -- they both were offered teaching jobs here.  Jan’s 1st year at BC was in the Blairstown Elementary teaching 5th/6th LA and SS.  Betty Kelly was her mentor and Jan loved working with her.  The following year Don Black (Blairstown Principal) wanted Jan to go to 2nd grade, so for her 3rd year of teaching she was teaching her 3rd grade level.  That’s when she met me as a student and my other 33 classmates.

Jan’s memory of me in 2nd grade centered on our Christmas program.  The productions were orchestrating by Jo Offt who was the Blairstown music instructor during that time.  Jan reminded me 2nd graders made paper mache masks for that year's Christmas program.  Mrs. Niebuhr, one of our classroom volunteers, helped us.  As Jan recalls, any able body helped with those Christmas programs.  She remembers with our large class we made quite a mess putting these masks together and that might have been the last time Mrs. Niebuhr helpedJ  My Aunt Macy, who was an associate in our elementary school, recorded, with her 8mm camera, every one of these programs.  I hope that when I have more free time on my hands, I can get those converted to a format that can be shared with others.  My recollection of those programs still brings a sense of pride and accomplishment deep in my heart.  I loved performing at that age and Jo made sure every grade level was able to perform to their best ability each and every year.   

My memory of Jan revolves around three very prominent thoughts in my head.  The first one is how we as 2nd graders “begged and begged” Mrs. Logan to attend our “First Communion”.   I remember being so happy to see her at church on this day.  We had worked hard as a class to get to that point and she validated us by attending.  

One other funny thing that happened at my 1st Communion and has nothing to do with Mrs. Logan, but I'm sure she agreed with the decision my mom made.  My mom gave me the book pictured below for 1st Communion.  I don't remember my mom ever giving me any other book, but I guess she thought I might need a lesson on being better mannered:)  




The second memory of Mrs. Logan's 2nd grade classroom is the effort she took and love she gave in writing a personalized poem for each student in her class on Valentine’s Day.  I can’t find the poem in all those boxes of memories we have in our basement, but I did find the picture of her with me at church on my 1st Communion Day.  She knew her student’s lives were more than just what happened in her classroom.   Mrs. Logan showed us, by attending this event, we meant something to her as people, not just as students.  I’ve tried to live this lesson with my students – to support them in all aspects of their lives. 


Mrs. Logan and myself at 1st Communion
During our conversation, Mrs. Logan reminded me of one other special part of being a Blairstown Elementary student:  the recess bell.  It was such an honor to be the child who got to get and return the bell to the office before and after recess.  As our conversation continued, we both wonder where that bell is now. 

Jan continued to teach 2nd grade for 4 years and then went to part time when she became pregnant with their first child, daughter Emily.  Her part-time position included Title One Reading in Blairstown and then 2nd semester of 1975-76 school year; she went back to full-time by teaching Title One Reading in the morning and 4th grade in afternoon.
 
Elementary Yearbook 1972 photo

Jan taught at elementary students for 37 years.  After retiring from Benton Community and working with 7-12 year olds, she switched things up and taught college age students for five years.  Don encouraged her to pursue teaching for Kirkwood.  He has taught courses for Kirkwood for fifteen years.  Jan relayed that the biggest difference she saw between the elementary and college age students was with the adults students she “Can’t keep them in for recess or call their parents when they don’t hand in their work” and that was very eye-opening for her:)  She found other ways to motivate and inspire those students!  

As Jan moved into the stage of retirement in her life, she really missed the first day of school.  She never wanted to do anything else but teach, but also knew it was time to retire and both her and Don went into retirement at the same time.

But, before Don could retire, he’d teach me in psychology, government, abnormal psychology and be my student council advisor.  I remember going on a field trip with him to the Independence Mental Health Center.  I was able to make that trip twice and I think that had a tremendous impact on my choice of majoring in psychology in college.  The other person who impacted that choice for me was my mom telling me I "chose psychology so I could figure myself out!"

Jan’s first contract was for $6500 and Don’s was $6800 due to his coaching three sports. When Don interviewed at Benton Community in the spring of 1970, Mr. Manship laid out blueprints for new school.  The bond issue for that school hadn’t passed, but Mr. Manship shared a message of hope that it would soon.  It took 12 votes and nine years later for that passage and the building finally opened in the Fall of 1982.    

One of Don’s initial coaching assignments was being the head boys track coach for 2 years.  He remembers that baseball was a priority at that time and the track boys had to shovel the baseball field for baseball game.  We’d had a State Baseball Championship in 1971, so the track team used that shoveling as part of their workout. 

As Don remembers his coaching days, he remembers that all the kids to him were just “Bobcats”.  He had no idea where they were from within the district.  He believes three things happened in those early years to unify the district: 
  • BC had winning football teams that made it to the state playoffs several years.
    • By the way – the victory bell made its way to Van Horne via Blairstown and some coaches who wanted to have their football team ring the bell after those wins!
  • BC Boys Basketball team went to state for the first time in 1980.
  • The bond issue passed. 
1980 Yearbook photo
All of these events, in Don’s opinion, unified this district and changed the culture of what it meant to be a “Bobcat".  Which meant as educators in the system part of their responsibility was in creating young men and women of character with participation in high school activities.
1980 Boys Basketball Team Yearbook photo

Don remembers the staff working hard and playing just as hard.  There was much comradery between the staff and those feeling spilled out into the entire family of the staff and this set the culture for the school district.  

Don and Jan both agree the staff raised their families together.  Don believes that when the new building opened, some of that comradery was lost and it had to be redeveloped.  He credits Tim Sanderson with making this change with sharing the examples of the Veteran’s Day Program and Homecoming activities.  Tim wanted students to know they were Bobcats from the time they started kindergarten to when they graduated.  He also wanted the graduates and community to know they are, and will always be, part of the Bobcat Family. 

As I remember my time with Mr. Logan as a high school student, I remember planting tulips, selling programs for athletic events and working in the concession stand.  He helped make sure students were guided, but responsible, in making decisions about programming with student council events.  

One of my favorite activities the student council helped plan were our school dances, especially the computer dance.  We had students fill out questioners and then these questioners created matches with other students based on our results.  Mr. Logan's connection with Iowa Basketball also created an opportunity for some Iowa Men's Basketball players to also fill out that questioner.  I remember being matched with Steve Carfino.   Steve didn't end up attending our dance, but I had fun anyway.

We still have Todd's computer match sheet in a box in the basement.  I didn't make Todd's computer list then, but did end up going to other school dances with him.  Just looking and thinking about those events, which Mr. Logan helped us plan, is a blast from the past that makes me smile. I learned much about responsibility, accountability and providing experiences for ALL students to be involved in.


Todd and Jo Senior Prom Picture

As I think about how the Logan’s have both impacted me, I think I love to read in part due to Jan and I think I love to play in the dirt in part due to Don.  I see Jan almost every day walking to and from the library with a book in hand.  When I run or walk the streets of Van Horne, I make sure I take a sneak peak into the Logan's backyard which is full of color, meticulously groomed by Don.  

The Logan's are both very active within our community and are still making a difference for many people due to their commitment to give.  I appreciate all they gave and continue to give to helping me and our community be a better place to live and work. 

Quite possibly they are also waiting for that meal with our parents:)  Maybe I should tell them -- just show up at noon on almost any day at my parents home and my mom will feed you and my dad will make you smile.  I guarantee it!






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