When I started teaching junior high school in the fall of 1972, I was elated to be back at Darlington, where I graduated in 1966. I taught fifth, sixth and seventh grade social studies and elementary PE . . . and also coached basketball. My sister was in my geography class, and my brother was in my PE class. There were several second cousins in my classes, and to top it off, my Dad was a bus driver and the school custodian! I was also now teaching with many of the teachers who had taught me just a few years earlier.
I was eager to impart knowledge to all of those kids who now looked to me as their teacher and role model. And since I always loved school as a youngster, I assumed that all of my students would enjoy being in my classroom. I had a lot of enthusiasm and tried to make my lessons informative and interesting. I feel like I was pretty successful. I still have former students tell me today that they enjoyed being in my class. I used a variety of methods, and made the learning process both interesting and fun.
But one thing that I discovered is that there are a few students who, no matter what methods you may try, have very little interest in regular schoolwork. Here are a couple of examples of two boys that were in my classes.
The first boy was in my seventh grade social studies class in 1973. He was an avid reader, and was extremely intelligent for his age. I knew his father, who was also very smart, and his grandmother and great-aunt had been my teachers in elementary school. This boy made straight A's without any difficulty. I truly believe that, at age 13, he could have taught just as competently as any other teacher on the staff. He liked school, but he needed to be challenged to do more work at a higher level. But when you have 30 students in your classroom, and you teach seven classes each day . . . and you coach after school from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. each evening, giving one-on-one personal instruction is almost impossible. I could sense that this outstanding student could become bored with school in general if he was not challenged to do more. I was correct. After his junior year at North Montgomery, he left school and did not graduate.
The second boy was a student in my fifth grade social studies class in 1974. He liked the social aspect of being with his friends, but the regular classroom was not for him. His grades were not the best, but he did have a lot of common sense. He was a bit mischievous, mostly because he was bored with the typical subjects, but he was a likeable youngster. Two years later, when he was in seventh grade, I was the assistant principal. The boy was still having difficulties in the regular classes, but during that year he took an industrial arts class, which included woodworking. He loved being in shop class, and he worked diligently on each project. He wanted his projects to be the best. Although not an 'A' student in math class, he could calculate the dimensions of a wood project faster than any other student. He had a natural talent for figuring angles and structure, and he was a perfectionist with each assignment. As he told me, "I was bored until I started nailing boards." I had a feeling he would not like high school regular classes, but I was hopeful he could be successful in a trades occupation later on in his life. Well, like the first student, he also left high school before graduating.
So . . . what happened to these two students, you might ask? The first boy, who needed a more difficult challenge in school, graduated from college and earned two advanced degrees. Robert Stwalley III is a professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue University, and President of the Indiana State School Board Association.
The second student, who disliked school . . . but loved woodworking, went on to become one of Montgomery County's premier homebuilders. If you want a fantastic new home built to your specifications and with utmost detail, call Jim Biddle, successful businessman and master home builder.
I can name many students who loved school and became very successful later on in life. I can also name many students who were not fond of school, or who were bored in the classroom, who also became very successful later in life. God has a plan for everyone. The student who discovers what that plan is . . . is the happiest.

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.