Adeline Copeland Marston
By Dorothy Dean Holman
The Shoreliner, July 1952
When school opens next September, Miss Adeline Marston will take her place behind the teacher's desk in Grade One at the Hampton Centre School, to start her forty-second year of teaching in New Hampshire schools.
Many changes have taken place during those years, changes in school houses, class rooms, methods of teaching and disciplinary measures. And Miss Marston has kept in step all the way, readily adapting herself to the changing times.
She recalls her first schoolhouse, a small one-story building in that part of Hampton known as Guinea. Ten pupils - seven from one family, comprised her class with eight grades represented. Horse and buggy was the mode of travel then, and Miss Marston's father drove her to and from school daily. Here she taught for one year, then after a year in Seabrook, she returned to Hampton to take up her 'duties at the Mill Road schoolhouse. This was also of the "district" type, though it included only three grades. When it was abandoned, she joined the teaching staff of the East End school (Junction of Locke Road and Winnacunnet Road). But the latter years of her association with the Hampton schools have been as first grade teacher in the Centre school.
"I can't help thinking of the contrast between my first school and the ones of today," she says. "All the drinking water had to be carried in a pail from the house next door, with all the children drinking out of the same tin cup.
"The room was heated by a stove which sat at one end of the building, with me serving as janitor, along with my other duties. It was my job to see that a fire was kept going and a continuous one it was on those cold, blustery, winter days." Those pupils seated next to the stove received a degree of warmth not shared by the ones on the farther side of the room, whose sums were often done with numb fingers.
"I remember one day in the East End school," she continues, "when the thermometer on the wall never got above zero all day. That was cold," she added, laughing. Boys and girls were made of stern stuff in those days. They had to be, to withstand the rigors of those old-time winters. Some of them walked many miles in all kinds of weather to learn their A-B-C's.
Contrast all this with the schoolhouse of today, with light, heat and sanitation in the most modern manner, warm comfortable rooms with adequate lighting, drinking fountains in the corridors, and running water in each class room.
Miss Marston smiles as she recalls the old days. "And the mice," she laughingly remembers, "how plentiful they were! It was not unusual to have one run across my desk on his way to the woodbox in search of crumbs from the children's dinner pails."
Then she becomes serious as she goes on to say, "Children aren't much different today from those of twenty, thirty or forty years ago. Parental discipline has changed, that's all. The child of those eras knew that 'no' meant 'no', while today, it's an entirely different story."
Miss Marston, to quote her superintendent, maintains a remarkable balance between authority and love. In other words, she maintains discipline without arousing resentment in the child. To put it simply, she makes them mind and they love her for it.
She explains how she started disciplining in the manner in which she herself had been trained, but found it too unsatisfactory. She has learned that harsh commands and rigid punishments often turn a child against you, and nothing is accomplished. She has grown to realize that children are individuals, and a flexible rule of disciplining must be maintained. "Co-operation instead of compulsion" is the keynote of success in child training. Now, small misdemeanors are overlooked, but continued misbehavior, after repeated admonitions, is not tolerated; it is dealt with on the spot. One way this is done is by banishing the miscreant to the cloakroom, where he can ponder on his misdeeds, returning to take his place with the rest when he decides to behave. "This works out very well," Miss Marston says, "No child likes to stand alone against a majority. Seldom is the offense repeated."
"I find children of today very co-operative," Miss Marston continues. "Let them know what you expect of them and you'll get it. Appeal to their finer natures and you'll bring out the best in them."
She tells of the time a small boy, contrary to school rules, threw a snowball on the school grounds and broke a window. Calling the boy to her, she explained that the expense incurred in having the glass replaced was his responsibility. Whereupon, the little fellow promised to ask his father for the money and bring it the next day. "No," Miss Marston told him. "I don't want your father to pay for it. I want you to." So she sent a note to the parents explaining the situation and asking their co-operation. Two weeks passed, and one morning the boy brought the required amount and placed it in her hand. "I earned it all myself," he said proudly.
Miss Marston lives in the house where she was born, a big, rambling farmhouse, half hidden by elm and locust trees, arbor vitae, lilacs and spreading apple trees. She is the eight generation to have lived there, the west wing having been built in 1654. It is considered one of the oldest houses in town, if not THE oldest. Its low-ceilinged rooms with hand-hewn beams, its wide board floors and small, many-paned windows will attest to its antiquity, and it is furnished throughout with mellow antique pieces, maple, walnut and mahogany, all of which are in an excellent state of preservation.
Miss Marston received her education in the Hampton schools starting in the little district school on Mill road, through the grammar school now the Fire Station (the Hampton District Courthouse in 2002), and the old Hampton Academy. Following her graduation, she attended the Newburyport Teachers' Training School, and was graduated in 1904. She has also taken numerous courses at the Plymouth Teachers' College summer school.
She has already taught two generations, and in a year or two the third will have started school under her kind, understanding tutelage. "Many times I've unwittingly called a boy by his father's name," she recalls, "and wondered why he paid no attention, until reminded by another child that that was not his name. Just got my generations mixed," she added laughing. Strangely enough, one of her former pupils is now a member of the school board.
Despite her many years of teaching, Miss Marston is still a young looking woman, with dark hair scarcely touched with grey. "If I look younger than my years," she says, "it's because of my long and constant association with young people. Interests outside ones regular work, keep a person young, too, and the mind keen," she acids. And she can attest to the fact, since beside her teaching, she instructs a kindergarten class in Sunday School, and sings in the Church choir. She also sings in the Portsmouth Community Chorus, is a member of the Hampton Monday Club and its choral group, the Church Guild, Hampton Garden club, G. A. R., and was a member of the Women's Relief Corps for twenty-five years before its disbanding. She is also Secretary of the Hampton Red Cross, and President of the town's Hampton Historical society.
Miss Marston teaches her pupils more than the Three R's. They learn good manners, respect for others, obedience to the school rules and good citizenship If they turn out successful men and women, it will be due in great part to the start they received under the capable, understanding leadership of their first grade teacher.
(Post Script: A new elementary school for grades 3 through 5, was built in Hampton, off High Street, and was dedicated on February 3, 1957. It was named The Adeline C. Marston Elementary School.)>
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