It’s back to school time. For some, it’s a time of excitement and joy, and for others, it’s a time of apprehension. While looking through Archives of Michigan photos for something related to education, I came across countless photos of early twentieth century schools. There were photos of schools with nicely dressed students standing with their teacher, and there were photos with shoeless boys standing in trees beside their schoolhouse. Then there was this one, a Detroit Free Press photo labeled: “February 1963. Sister Mary Patricia, OSP Our Lady of Victory.” No matter how many photos I viewed, I kept coming back to this one. If the looks on the faces of Sister Mary Patricia or her students are any indication, then it’s clear that this nun means business in her classroom and she has work to do. As an educator that means teaching, guiding, listening, understanding, supporting and giving, all while being patient, positive, caring, realistic, firm, fair, engaging and humble.
Education has always been a part of Michigan’s history, going all the way back to our 1835 Constitution. We weren’t even a state yet, but the organization of our education system was as important as the organization of state government, state militia and the prohibition of slavery. We are likely to see some education reforms in the coming months, but no matter what is decided, I think Sister Mary Patricia’s face is indicative of how many teachers in the state are feeling about going back to school. There’s work to do, and they mean business.
As a side note, there was another photo, much like this one, that ran in the February 9, 1963 issue of the Detroit Free Press. In the published photo, Sister Mary Patricia wasn’t wearing glasses and had a slight smile on her face, as did some of her students. I like that photo just as well, but in that one, you can’t see the face of the young man towards the back-center of the room.