Mrs. Short Remembers
This article appeared in a special edition of The Arlington Citizen-Journal published in February 1972, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Citizen-Journal. It was written by Suanne Copeland. In 1970, the year she retired after 49 years of teaching, Mrs. Beatrice Short (1902-1990) became the namesake of the newly opened Short Elementary School, on California Lane in Arlington.
First grade is that magical, grown-up and frightening time when a child leaves babyhood behind and enters the world of scholarship which will enfold him or her for the next 12-16 years of life. For three generations, Arlington pupils have been guided over this threshold by first-grade teacher Mrs. Beatrice Short.
Mrs. Short, who taught 49 years, 43 of which were at the Johnson Station School, and is still substitute teaching at "her school," Short Elementary, has seen many changes in Arlington's public schools. She is extremely proud of the modern facilities at Short Elementary which was dedicated to her on February 28, 1971, and she enjoys the team teaching set-up there when she is called to substitute. She remembers that when she first came to the Johnson Station School, there were only two schools in the small town of Arlington - North Side and South Side.
Mrs. Short grew up in Woodville in The Big Thicket of Texas and began teaching in 1918 at age 16 at Security , a little town in Montgomery County. Her sister was principal at the school, and Mrs. Short's salary was $60 a month. In order to teach, she had to pass the second grade state teacher's examination, which includes 10 subjects. She is one of three sisters who became teachers largely due to their father's request.
She came to Johnson Station in 1921 mainly at the request of her brother, Rev. H. D. Tucker, who was Assistant Pastor at First Methodist Church in Arlington at that time. He praised Arlington, and Mrs. Short soon came to agree with his opinion.
She first boarded at Grandma Melear's Cabin, which has been moved and is now being restored and surrounded by a special landscaping project in the Middleton Tate Johnson Cemetery. (Editor's note: The historic Jopling-Melear Cabin, which dates to 1863, is now in Knapp Heritage Park.) "It had a fireplace at both ends," she recalls, and I slept in the lean-to made of planks, which had been added on to the cabin." "When it rained, I could count on Zach Melear (who was then School Board Trustee) to take me to school and pick me up in the surrey," she said. "On clear days, I walked to school."
The old four-room school house at Johnson Station, built 1913, had three classrooms and an office which joined to form an auditorium. The school employed three teachers, grades one through nine. The average enrollment was 60. Each teacher had three grades. Mrs. Short began in fourth through sixth grades, but then moved to the firstgrade. She taught there for a year and then went to Malone in Hill County where her brother had moved to be that town's Methodist minister. However, she chose to return to Arlington, and Married Tyler Short, precinct public weighter, in 1925. She had met him while both appeared in a play here. They spent 42 years together until his death in January of 1968.
Mrs. Short then had an opportunity given by Arlington Supt. W. R. Wimbish to come to Arlington to teach; but at the last minute, she changed her mind and stayed on at Johnson Station because "I hated to leave my school out there," but in 1954, she moved with the school staff and students into the new Johnson Station School building which became a part of the Arlington School System, so, "I had my cake and ate it, too," she said. In an address on the date of the dedication of Short Elementary School, Charles Greer said of her, "Mrs. Short's teaching career covered years when education consisted of the simple three R's up to progressive education with its modern innovations. She has had the important and often difficult job of taking small, timid first graders and turning them into responsible, self-assured, successful students." Mrs. Short has taught in excess of 1,500 students in her career, and has seen many thirdgeneration pupils pass through her classes. She taught first grade for a total of 40 years.
During all those years of teaching, Mrs. Short, too, was a student, seeking to further her understanding of educational techniques. She received both here bachelors and masters degrees in education from Texas Wesleyan College in Fort Worth. She is a member of TSTA, the National Retired Teachers Association, Beta Phi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary society for women teachers, and the American Association of Retired Persons.
She is currently serving as Short Elementary School's PTA Parliamentarian and has served as PTA president, vice-president, and in other capacities. She also received an honorary life membership in the Texas Congress of PTAs. She is an active member of First Methodist Church and has served as secretary for its Wesleyan Service Guild and taught in its primary department for many years.
Looking back over her years of teaching at the elementary level, Mrs. Short commented, "It takes understanding of children and knowing that they are each individuals, to make a good teacher. If you can get them to love you and cooperate with you and want to please you, then you are doing well as a teacher."
The people of Arlington will be sad to learn that Mrs. Short will be moving in the near future to Linden, Texas, to be near her daughter. "I feel that I should get closer to her now," she says. The only time Mrs. Short didn't teach was when her daughter was born. And so the life of a teacher goes on. As Charles Greer said, "Beginning teachers could do well to pattern their teaching life after that of Mrs. Short. She has been consistent in her love and empathy for her students, fellow workers, parents, and community."
Editor's note: Beatrice Short died at age 87, on April 10, 1990. She is buried with her husband of 42 years, John Tyler Short, in the Johnson Station Cemetery.