Esther Bernita Baldwin Experiences in Teaching

When Esther received her teaching diploma at Kent, she went back to her home area to find employment. She started her teaching career in the fall of 1933 two townships from Mecca in the Farmington Local Schools. She taught elementary school in the upper grades. This was depression time, so she found a room to rent in a home. She found it less expensive than trying to have a car and buy gas and the upkeep. Esther related how rather than money, the teachers’ salaries were paid in “script”. She implied this was paper that local merchants accepted in place of money, with a promise from the school district to pay at a future date.

After a year with the Farmington Schools, Esther was accepted for a teaching position at her home school district – Mecca Township. She was happy to be back home to live and work. While there she taught grades fourth, fifth, and sixth. She started with them the fall of 1934 and resigned at the end of the 1939 -40 school year. Esther would tell of how strange it was at first, to be teaching there with the same principal, most of the same teachers she had as a student, along with knowing the older brothers and sisters of most of her students. At one point she had her older sister’s son in class. In later years she would return for Alumna Days. The last one she attended honored both her class for their 65th reunion and her for all her years as an educator. Many of her former students surprised her with memories of her as a teacher. They had flowers for her. When they asked her to speak, it was difficult to hear her as her soft voice would choke with her tears of happiness and gratitude. What an honor it was when all of those attending gave her a standing ovation. Some of the men even made whistles. She would later say it was one of the highlights of her teaching career.

In 1940, she went to teach in the Warren City School System in Warren, OH, the county seat for Trumbull County. She was there only one year when she resigned at the end of the school year, the spring of 1941. At that point in time, female teachers could not be married and teach. She had secretly married in February of 1941 and by May everyone knew as she was expecting by then. Her co-workers gave her a nice send off into marriage and expectant motherhood by giving her a Hummel figurine of a little girl reading a book.

World War Two started for the US in December 1941. The next month Esther had her first child. Women were going to work in the many factories in the Warren area. The public school system still did not permit married women to teach. However so many of those women who went to work had children requiring day care and many didn’t have family close enough to help them. Gasoline was rationed so many couldn’t make trips to take the children very far or bring someone to them. Private nursery schools started to appear on all sides of the city. Esther was hired at one of these schools in the center of town. The woman who owned and operated the school was an excellent educator and ran a terrific program making the school popular even after the war. Esther taught there from fall of 1943 until the spring of 1950, taking a short leave in the fall of 1946 when she had her second child. The school had the policy of not accepting children under the age of two. However, Esther was so competent and popular with the facility, parents, and students, that they made an exception for Esther, letting her bring her 18 month old to the school. The school doctor was the pediatrician the family used and since her mother was there, they felt the child would have no problems. They were correct, and she attended the school the rest of the time her mother worked there.

In the spring of 1950 the owner/director of the private school married and decided to move her private school to Youngstown which about 15 miles from Warren. She wanted her staff to go with her, but Esther didn’t want to spend so much time in travel she would have less time with her family, and regretfully declined moving to The Kennedy School, as it was to be called. Rather she applied to the county school system. She had an offer for a school not far away and taught first grade at Bazetta School for four years.

While at Bazetta, Esther’s first classes had over 40 students enrolled in them. This was the first of the “Baby Boomer” generation and schools all over the entire country weren’t prepared to handle the addition of so many new students at one time. Thus there was a shortage of teachers. Many of the men returning from World War Two, were going to school on the new G.I. Bill and weren’t always available to teach. Many of there were encouraged to go into teaching to help fill the need with the growing enrollments. This was when school districts finally permitted married women into the class rooms to teach once more. The four years she spent teaching at Bazetta were certainly difficult with the amount of students in her classes, but she managed. She was able to teach the required subjects along with maintaining discipline. She was highly regarded for the reading, spelling, and math skills of her students. Many went on to become the top of their classes when they graduated.

By 1954, Esther wanted to be closer to home once more and applied to the district school system where she lived and to the Warren City School System again. Because of her stellar record both in the year she taught in the system and her references since then, she was called to interview at Warren. She was offered a job and accepted. A few weeks later the superintendent from Howland Local Schools came to her home seeing if there was anything at all he could do to convince her to teach for them. But she had made the commitment in Warren, and could not leave. In Warren, she was assigned to Elm Road Elementary School. She started in Kindergarten. Her classroom was in a brand new addition to the school and was well planned. She was happy there for quite a while. Then she was moved to second grade where her classroom was in the older part of the school. It was an interesting school to both staff and students to attend. The principal was a single woman with exquisite taste. She had been raised in around antiques, and the arts. This showed in the school. She took in some of her own furnishing that decorated common areas, including soft lighting. The students for the most part didn’t get out of lines and only whispered on their way from one place to another. Even going to or returning from recess, the children were well behaved in the halls and all over the school. Esther would stay at this school until her retirement in 1972. She moved from second grade to third grade, having most of her students for two years. Then she moved to the fourth grade where she had some of those same students for a third year. She decided to stay with the fourth grade for the few years she had to go to retire. She thought the class that was with her from second to fourth was on the best class of students she ever taught. She would talk about how some of those students were the kind that comes along once in a teacher’s career. She found it easy to pass on her of love of reading to most of them, but found it a challenge to find material at their reading levels. She would often take books from home that had been favorites of her children to help meet this need.

In January of 1975, Esther and er husband were both retired and had purchased property in Putnam County, FL. They left at that time and had a small second home where they wanted to spend the winter months and return to their home in OH for the summers and fall. They joined the golf club that was next to where they lived. All was going well when her husband passed away. Esther decided to stay in FL full time and sold her home in OH to her youngest child. While in FL on her own, she decided to fill a lot of her time by volunteering at the local elementary school. She helped one of the teachers with extra reading for students who were having problems. Once more she was highly regarded by all who worked with her, the parents, and students. The principal of the school honored her as the volunteer with the most hours and years when she planned to finally give up her teaching in public schools. She had volunteered there for five years! She was in her glory those five years doing what she loved the very most – teaching reading and passing on her love for it.

After Esther retired from full-time teaching, she worked as a substitute in Howland Schools. One of her assignments was to take the place of a teacher on leave for six weeks. She enjoyed having the same students at the same school for that period of time. She felt she was really teaching rather than going through the motions of being there for one day at a time.

Throughout her many years of teaching, she touched many, many students in a positive way and passed on her love of learning and reading. Many have honored her for those accomplishments during her years as an educator and in retirement. When Esther passed away, her family donated many books to the head start program in Putnam County in her honor. The Bookplate reads In Honor of Esther Baldwin Dabelko Who loved teaching children to read.



Esther Baldwin – Education

Esther attended grade school, junior high, and high school in the Mecca School District in Ohio. Right from the start she was a good student and made A’s. All of her teacher’s loved her as she was an educator’s dream. Some of her favorite subjects were geography, English, history, and math. She always credited this time of her life and learning about dwindling natural resources for her deep interest in environmental issues. She also learned about different places in the US that she became determined to visit. All through junior high and high school she maintained her A average. Favorite subjects for her were English, history, and math. She loved reading and would be excited with each of the classic books her English teacher would assign. It was in high school that she learned more about good citizenship and all it entails.

She also was active in various extra circular activities. While in high school, she played in the orchestra on violin. She was also on the basketball team. These were two activities she loved. Basketball was her favorite and she continued playing the rest of her life. Although the girl’s basketball team didn’t earn a win in any of the county tournaments, they had a very good showing. She and her teammates were always happy on the court. For all of them, basketball was the game as it was meant to be and they had fun while winning and losing never bothered them. It only made them more determined to better their skills to work as a team. At 5’6″ she was one of the tallest girls in her class, so she was consider a natural.

It was during this time that she learned to drive. Her parents would let her use the car and she would tell the story of how her younger brother Russ, would get her to take him to see his girlfriends and take them “sparking”, today known as “making out”. She had trouble ever saying “no” to Russ and would do it. They often practiced basketball on the farm when their chores were done and Russ also played basketball in high school. He was on the team that would win the county championship. When they would get home with the car, she would turn of the engine and she and Russ would push the car until it was back in place. This would help them from keeping their parents from knowing when they got home.

Esther was determined to attend college. At that time Kent normal school, later to become Kent State University, was not too far away and gave two year diplomas for those in the teacher’s program. She applied and was accepted. She couldn’t afford to live on campus, so she rented an apartment with three other girls that were just off campus. Two of those three became her lifelong friends. She entered the school in fall of 1931 and received her teaching diploma in the spring of 1933, right in the middle of the depression. She also had a summer term at University of Southern California and at Ohio State University which gave her credits towards her bachelor’s degree. In the 1950’s, teachers were required to have those bachelor degrees in order to continue teaching. And they were given so many years in which to get them or they would be let go. She entered Youngstown College, later to become Youngstown State University, to complete her degree. It was the closest school and by then she had a family to care for, too, and she didn’t want to be too far from home. She earned her bachelor’s degree in the winter of 1957, and continued to teach. In the 1960’s, Kent State brought a regional campus to Trumbull County, OH where Esther and her family lived. She took some courses towards a master’s degree, but never finished it. She had another class in geography that shaped the rest of her life with environmental issues to help save the planet. She and her husband would also go to other college campuses, where they would stay in the married couple dorms and she would take a class. They really enjoyed seeing parts of the country while she got more education. She never did finish her Master’s degree.


Esther Bernita Baldwin – The early years

Esther Bernita Baldwin was born 30 January 1914 to Albert Joel and Martha Jane Russell Baldwin in Mecca, Trumbull County Ohio.  At that time she had siblings Bernice Baldwin Knight, George Baldwin, Wayne Baldwin, and Harvey Baldwin.  Later her parents added Robert Russell Baldwin and Betty Louise Baldwin.  Her parents had lived in Findley, Hancock County, Ohio, moved to Mill City, Oregon,  and then bought a farm in Trumbull County.  Esther loved growing up on the farm.  Her paternal grandparents lived in a little house very close by.

Besides her farm chores, Esther loved reading. Her mother Martha had been a school teacher and instilled the love of reading to her.  Esther passed on that love of reading to her children and many of the students she taught in later years.  She used to keep her lamp going while she read “one more chapter.”  Some of her favorite books were: The Three Musketeers, Little Women, Ivanhoe, and The Scarlett Pimpernel. But she would read nearly any book or story.  She had learned at a very young age and never lost her enthusiasm.

Another interest she had was music.  She learned to play piano, the violin, and the mandolin.  Her mother also played piano and taught her.  All of her older siblings learned to play instruments, too.  She also loved to sing.  Those things became important to her, too, in her later years a teacher. She was in the school orchestra playing the violin.

Esther and her family attended a community church and her faith was very important to her. Her religion and faith served her throughout the trials that come with life.  She tried to never miss Sunday school and learned the hymns so she could sing in the choir.

When she started to school, she enter first grade at age five. She was very well liked by her teachers and the other children. There were about 20 in her class to start with.  As the students became older, many of the boys had to drop out of school to help on their farms.  She was quite fortunate her parents believed in education being important. All of her older siblings and her younger brother Russ finished high school. Esther was fond of relating to everyone how she used to ride in a horse drawn wagon to get to school. Each side of the wagon had seats built for the children to sit during their ride to and from school.

Although she would help her mother in the house, she’d rather be outdoors with her father and her brothers in the barn, gardening, or around the farm somewhere.  She and her brothers often played in the hayloft swinging on a rope, playing basketball, or baseball.  She even learned to drive a car at a very young age.

When she was 10 years of age, she was the flower girl at her sister Bernice’s wedding to Mr. Howard Knight.  Howard and Bernice lived on a 200 acre farm for the rest of their days.  Esther had a grand time dressing up and carrying a basket of flowers. The picture of her with the newlyweds was very cute indeed. When she was about the same age, she was helping her father chop wood when the axe slipped and her foot was cut. The axe was so sharp it went into the wood, too. To say her mother yelled at her father is mildly understated.

Although her name was Esther,  her father called her Bonnie.  Eventually all her siblings did, too.  The nickname stayed with her most of her life.  It created some problems with the children of her nieces and nephews as they thought there were two different Aunts – Esther and Bonnie.  Even her husband and his family would call her Bonnie.

The 1920’s were a difficult time for those who lived a rural life. Her father was very intuitive and did a lot of things to help the family.  He became a township trustee that gave him a little extra money.  He also raised rabbits and bred Airedale dogs. He was a great fisherman and hunter, too.  Esther used to relate how some weekends men would come in their cars and would try to shoot the rabbits without getting out of the vehicles. Although her father would send them away, it was her job along with her younger brother to keep them from doing the same thing later in the day. When Esther was a teenager she was driving a hay wagon when it overturned. Once more her father was in trouble with her mother for letting her do such a thing.

Esther always considered her early childhood as a good time when she learned a lot about life.  She worked hard, but had fun doing so.  She would say she would never have had it any other way.




February Genealogy Challenge

Today starts the first day of writing stories about an ancestor.  I have chosen my mother as I know hers the best.  Some of the things i want to include in her story are: 

1.  About her family

2.  Her education – earliest – to latest

3.   Her adventures in the 1930’s

4.   How she met and married my father

5.   Her happenings in the 1940’s

6.    What went on in the 60’s and early 70’s

7.    Those 80’s and how she coped

8.     The 90’s including her passing

Most of the story will be from my memory, what she told me, and what others told me after she passed on. Sadly I have little documented as her stories are so interesting.  I do have a very few pictures, though they are not scanned or in the computer. I’ll have to work to see if i can make that happen.  Personally i feel she was a remarkable woman who was ahead of her times and led the way for women and what they can accomplish today.  She certainly was an inspiration to me and many others.  We didn’t always get on too well, but spending so much time with her in the final eight years of her life, we managed to work out things that had bothered me for years and her regrets along the way.  There weren’t many, but there were some.   This will make a wonderful introduction to my family for sure.  What I am hoping will come from this challenge is to continue to write about my ancestors, as best I can.  This will be a wonderful start for me.  My goal is to average 500 words a day.  I certainly think i’ll be able to do so, considering my November writing challenge is an average of 1700 per day!  The very best thing about this is, i believe my mother would be very happy, supportive, and helpful for this project.  She is the one who encouraged me to start genealogy work, especially with her family so that i might join the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).  Since I did, I have had other cousins interested and started into genealogy, too. 
It turns out I have a total of 16 family members who served and/or were patriots – all from her line.  She helped me to learn a lot about family and how important it is for all of us.

The most important thing I hope to accomplish with my selection is for others in the family to get to know her.  She never got to meet any of her five great- grandchildren and I hope someday they will like to know who she was.  I would especially like the two girls to know what their great grandmother did to make things possible for them to do in today’s world.  I think they might be surprised. 

The beliefs she gave to my brother and me were also passed on to my nephew who has made a career from one.  That is to be in her story, too.  Indeed she was way ahead of some current thinking.