Sarah’s Diary Episode Twenty-Nine

Jenny was excited to share Elizabeth’s life story with the class. She was fortunate in being able to access material that each of the siblings had written about their lives or material that had been written about them.

“Let me tell you about Elizabeth’s life,” Jenny began. “She struggled in the University not because of her ability to do the work, but because of how she was viewed by her classmates. They made fun of her twang and her homemade clothes. They didn’t understand her positive outlook on life when cynicism seemed to be in vogue. And being one of the few women students certainly didn’t help.”

“But she persevered. She obtained a degree in education, one of the few degrees open to women at the time. She met and married one of her classmates who saw her for the genuine, authentic person she was. He too was put off by the phoniness of many of their classmates.”

“Elizabeth had a long career as an elementary school teacher. She actually used some of the teaching practices she learned from her parents, like the question hour and weekly challenges.”

“What Elizabeth became famous for was the plays she wrote and taught her students to perform. She learned that the play she had written in high school was a way for every student to make a genuine contribution and boost their own self-image.”

“She was encouraged to publish the plays, and they became widely used across America. When motion pictures became a part of American life, the performers in these movies became what we would call influencers today.”

“When asked how they developed their talent, time after time they would recall their first performing experience in one of Elizabeth’s plays. Elizabeth provided the spark that ignited dramatic careers at a key moment in American’s history.”

“But she did so much more. We know from story after story of people across America how important those plays were to developing self-confidence, sense of worth, and an awareness of how important it is to learn to work together for a common cause.”

“I don’t know if any of you ever experienced one of Elizabeth’s plays. We seem to have forgotten that education isn’t only about facts and techniques. It should also be about developing young people to have purposeful lives. But you can’t teach that.”

“Now I want you to answer the question that we’ve been exploring throughout the semester: Was Elizabeth an innovator?”

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“Self-trust is the first secret of success.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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