Memories of a favorite teacher

His name was Mr. Knol – “Whitey” to his friends – and he was my sixth-grade teacher at Southside Elementary School, near Harrisburg, in the mid-1960s. My first male teacher.

Southside was a smallish neighborhood school located adjacent to the development where I lived. It had just one sixth-grade classroom, so all of my classmates lived within walking distance of the school. We knew each other well, very well.

We knew Harold carried a photo in his wallet clipped from Playboy magazine and Jim had what would today be called a learning disability. Mindy, Richard and Danny were the wealthy kids who lived in the exclusive development down the road and Geanne was the oldest of seven girls in her family. Nancy and Theresa were already dealing with acne. Greg’s father had recently passed away. Kathy could run faster than all of the boys and Georgia wanted to beat me up. Fortunately, I could run faster than Georgia.

We entered puberty in a school where little kids shared our cafetorium and playground. We were playing hopscotch, kickball and jumping rope (in skirts!) at the same time we had crushes on Davy Jones, Peter Noone, Paul McCartney and Dino, Desi and Billy.

Mr. Knol helped us maneuver with understanding and humor.

“As I walked out in the streets of Laredo…” he sang, walking around the classroom strumming a pointer.

“Your vocabulary word is ‘message.’ I’d say the ‘mess age’ is from birth to about 3,” he said during a weekly spelling test.

He taught us about the world during the Vietnam Era through Weekly Reader and current events presentations. When there was a conflict – boys vs. girls, of course – he lined us up on either side of the classroom and made us talk it out. With a joke, a laugh and a song, he encouraged us to treat each other with respect at a time when familiarity, hormones … and photos from Playboy magazine … were pulling us in another direction.

Mr. Knol knew us just as well as we knew each other. Sixth grade. It was a very good year.
Share memories of a favorite teacher at

Bonnie Martin, Editor

Similar posts
  • Longtime couple ‘rules’ homecoming Bloomsburg University had a full stadium of supportive parents and students as the Huskies football team prepared for their annual homecoming game. Two students who were particularly anxious about the game were Saige Hilsinger and Dylan Kimbar, as they waited for halftime to find out the results of homecoming king and queen competition. The young [...]
  • Sparking an international radiation s... Austin Olson, a senior health physics student in BU’s Honors Program, traveled to Indianapolis this summer to present findings from his independent study at a meeting of the Health Physics Society (HPS), attended by health physics professionals from around the world. Olson’s research looked at how effective damaged lead aprons can be in protecting medical [...]
  • Love in Bloom: Andrea Kellock My name is Andrea Kellock I began going to Bloomsburg in the fall of 2006. I was on the Cross Country and Track teams for all four years. I truly had an amazing college experience, on the field and in the classroom, but I can also say, it was at Bloomsburg where I met the [...]
  • Puppy Love Why would someone raise a puppy only to give it away? Bethany Robinson ’16 and her puppy-in-training are common sights on BU’s campus. The marketing major/art studio minor from Carlisle shares her experiences with The Seeing [...]
  • The Great Brain Robbery The Great Brain Robbery Ask Baby Boomers what they fear most about aging and the majority will say they are afraid of losing precious memories and recognition of familiar faces to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. They are afraid of needing around-the-clock assistance with even the simplest tasks. My dad, Clarence Weaver, a proud Navy veteran [...]

President’s Blog

Dr. David Soltz shares his thoughts.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.