by Jesse Stuart
Jesse Stuart grew up in the high hill country of eastern Kentucky. As a young man, he taught seventy students in a one-room rural schoolhouse, some of them older than himself. He taught them to love learning, take responsibility for their education, and apply their knowledge to everyday life in the community. He made such a difference for these students and their community that he was asked to be the principal of a city high school. From there he went on to serve as superintendent of the county's schools. Through his entire career as an educator, Stuart worked hard to improve the school system, and met with lots of bitter opposition. The Thread That Runs So True is mostly about his efforts to make positive changes, the importance of education and the wide-ranging influence good teachers have. It reads very easily, in economic sentences that sound, after a while, as if the author were speaking aloud. Many of the incidents with his students are funny, some outrageous. I really admired reading about how he could bring people together on issues. After one PTA meeting where Stuart revealed to parents how the fathers' gambling and drinking was reflecting on the students, the parents quickly changed their behavior and truancy and tardiness nearly disappeared in the school. Then one man remarked: "All you have to do to solve a town problem that hurts your school, is to get the women on your side. Show 'em what's wrong, and they'll clean it up." That made me smile.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 336 pages, 1949