In Honor of Stonewall Patterson

Her nickname “Stonewall” was earned. Everyone feared and revered her.


Patricia Patterson taught the 5th grade for her entire teaching career. Chances are, if you grew up in Monticello Florida, Mrs. Patterson was your 5th grade teacher. That means that about three generations were influenced by this sage of a teacher.

Mrs. Patterson was not the typical submissive young woman back in the 60’s and 70’s. As women began to assert themselves professionally, they had some catching up to do to catch Mrs Patterson. Now Patricia was no “women’s lib” type. Her agenda was to be the best 5th grade teacher she could be.

And she was.

Her nickname “Stonewall” was earned. Everyone feared and revered her. If you were in the 1st through 4th grade, you dreaded the 5th grade. If you made it through the 5th grade, you sighed a big “whew” of relief.

When I was in the 5th grade, I was fixated on football. It’s a fixation that continues to this day. Unfortunately, this fixation was sometimes a distraction to my studies. One day, when it came time for recess, Mrs Patterson approached me with a challenge. She suggested that even though I proclaimed to be such an “expert” on the NFL, she doubted that I could write the cities, and mascots of each NFL team on the chalk board during recess. Well, I was about to show her a thing or two! I eagerly wrote them all. I aced it!

When recess was over, the class reconvened. I expected my work to be erased. Not so. Mrs Patterson called me to the front of the class. She started at the top of the list. The San Francisco 49ers. She asked me to point to San Francisco on the map. I did. She then asked what the heck is a “49er”? I was clueless. She then began sprinkling the facts about the California Gold rush and of course the year it took place. Then the Philadelphia eagles. Why eagles? Why not cardinals or falcons like two of the other teams? She asked me what our national bird was. Of course – the bald eagle. Where and when was that decided? Well, at the birthplace of our nation where our constitutional convention was held.

The entire class that day consisted of me talking about the iconic cities that were the hosts of the teams of the National Football League. It was a geography lesson and history lesson all rolled into one – and I was teaching it!

Remember the “teachers lounge”? Back then it was basically a place for teachers to have a cigarette during their break. Guess what? But Mrs Patterson could have a cigarette whenever she wanted to. Why? She could give the class an assignment and go to the lounge for a smoke break. The class would remain quite and studious in her absence! That’s discipline folks!

Mrs Patterson was a great teacher – and a great disciplinarian. I’m sure most folks can remember an outstanding teacher. Speaking of great teachers, I am amazed at how many people who do not recognize the lordship of Jesus, still acknowledge that he was a great “teacher”. Even the scriptures bear accounts of people referring to him as “rabbi”. So we can agree that, at the very least, Jesus was a good teacher!

But how about disciplinarian? I guess the scene of Jesus cracking the whip and turning over tables comes to mind – but that’s punishment, not discipline. We use those words synonymously but there is a difference. I’ve written an entire blog on it

Discipline vs Punishment

What I really mean is that Jesus made disciples. You know what? We are commanded to “make disciples”. We are all “commissioned” as missionaries. The only question is how good a job are we doing. You may not think of yourself as a teacher, but as a Christian, each of us are. I hope I can take my job as teacher as seriously and be as effective for the Kingdom as Mrs Patterson was for her three generations of 5th grade students.

That’s what I think. I’m interested in your thoughts. There’s lots of ways to hit me up so let me hear from you.

You can leave your comments below.

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Author: Mark Prasek

Christian Technologist. Find me on Twitter @DataGenesis

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