Women who teach and encourage – International Women’s Day

By Carol / March 8, 2018 / 6 Comments

On International Women’s Day I salute the women who made the greatest impact on me. They were teachers and encouragers. All of them.

Mom greeted everyone with a smile.

My mother, Ruby Denter. She was strong and determined. Until she married Dad, Mom lived in town. She knew nothing of farming, but she set her mind “to be the best farm wife I could be.” She learned to cook, to garden, to milk cows, and (her greatest joy) to raise kids.

She was my most consistent source of encouragement. A college graduate and teacher, she encouraged me to go to college, too. Granted this was so, “I’d have something to fall back on,” – meaning, if I didn’t get married, but she wanted the best for me and she knew a college education would help me achieve that.

She also encouraged me to write the stories that became my first book: Growing Up Country, Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl. She believed in my writing before I did. I’m where I am as an author because of Mom.

Aunt Joyce – “Mrs. Bees” to her students – taught in the classroom for decades, then continued to tutor individuals who needed a little extra help.

My aunts, Joyce and Esther. These beautiful women showed me that career and marriage could be pursued simultaneously. Both were teachers. Their careers took advantage of and built their abilities to be firm, be flexible, be creative, and to balance all that with a healthy sense of humor.

Miss Fowler managed a school full of kids of all ages.

Harriet Fowler, the one-room school teacher who guided me through all my elementary school years. Only now do I fully appreciate her ability to balance the needs of students across multiple ages, classes, and subject areas. I hope I told her thank you often enough.


Given the influence of these women, it’s not surprising that I chose teaching as my career path in college. While I left the traditional classroom path after one year, I’ve always sought to pay forward the investment these women made in me by sharing anything I’ve learned with anyone who asks.

Teachers. These teachers, specifically. These are the women I salute on International Women’s Day.

Who were the women who influenced you?




  1. Merril Smith on March 9, 2018 at 5:50 am

    A lovely tribute, Carol!

    • Carol on March 9, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      Thanks, Merril. In creating the post, I thought of the women and only then realized they were all teachers. Realizing that theme, I could have listed more. I love teachers.

  2. Shirley Showalter on March 9, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    “I hope I told her thank you often enough.” This blog will reach her, I’m sure. If you can “pay it forward,” maybe you can “pay it backward, too.” Lovely remembrances of the quiet, strong, presence of women in the world and, if we are lucky, in our lives.

    • Carol on March 9, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      I like the idea of ‘paying it backward,’ Shirley. I like to think they know what I’m up to now and how much I appreciate them. I’ve been lucky to have so many of them.

  3. Elfrieda NEUFELD SCHROEDER on March 9, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    I love the picture of the kids in the country school and I’m wondering which one is you. Your teacher looks kind. I had a lovely teacher in grade three when I was struggling to learn English. She made me feel loved and accepted.

    • Carol on March 9, 2018 at 2:46 pm

      I have several pictures of our country school, and this is one of my favorites. I am the second girl from the left, Elfrieda. Miss Fowler was a kind, gentle woman who was ever bit teacher and mother. Much like your teacher.

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