3/3 RVN Ass’n  Vol  1  Issue 10  09/01/2007
The Desks .... Thank God for Teachers

Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock, did something not to be forgotten.

On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the bldg. supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom.

The kids came into first period and there were no desks. They obviously looked around and said, "Ms. Cothren, where's our desk?" And she said, "You  can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn them." 
They thought, "Well, maybe it's our grades."

"No," she said.

"Maybe it's our behavior."

And she told them, "No, it's not even your behavior."

And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. Second period, same thing, third period too. By early afternoon television news crews had gathered in Ms. Cothren's class to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the classroom.

The last period of the day, Martha Cothren gathered her class. They were at this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room. And she says, "Throughout the day no one has really understood how you earn the desks that sit in this classroom ordinarily." She said, "Now I'm going to tell you."
Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it, and as she did 27 U.S. veterans, wearing their uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. And they placed those school desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. And by the time they had finished placing those desks, those kids, for the first time I think perhaps in their lives, understood how they earned those desks.

Martha said, "You don't have to earn those desks. These guys did it for you. They put them out there for you, but it's up to you to sit here responsibly to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have that desk, and don't ever forget it."

Friends, I think sometimes we forget that the freedoms that we have are freedoms not because of celebrities. The freedoms are because of ordinary people who did extraordinary things, who loved this country more than life itself, and who not only earned a school desk for a kid at the Robinson High School in Little Rock, but who earned a seat for you and me to enjoy this great land we call home, this wonderful nation that we better love enough to protect and preserve with the kind of conservative, solid values and principles that made us a great nation.

"We live in the Land of the Free because of the brave."

Source: Internet email
Follow-up for veracity: Snopes.com

(Authenticated on Snopes.com by Barbara Mikkelson, selected text follows:)

“The text that now circulates in e-mail recounts events from the first day of classes in Fall 2005 for students enrolled in Martha Cothren's
The room was indeed devoid of desks, with the missing furniture borne in at the end of the day by a group of veterans. Each vet carried a desk and set it down, as the teacher gave her lesson on the cost of things taken for granted and the debt owed to those in the forces.

I talked to Martha Cothren about that day and also about her military history class. This daughter of a World War II POW regularly has veterans visit her  classroom; it's one of the ways she teaches her course on the history of World War II and the Vietnam War. Her class doesn't yet have a textbook (she is busy writing one), so she uses less typical methods of imparting knowledge about those events to her students. Part and parcel of what she teaches is an appreciation for members of the armed forces.

In May 2005, she and her class organized a Vietnam Veterans Recognition Week, including an official ‘Thank You Ceremony’ held in the Joe T. Robinson High School auditorium. Veterans from World War II and the Korean War also attended, as did people from all walks of life, to honor those who had served. During that week, students videotaped veterans as they recounted their war memories, thus preserving their stories for later generations.

Cothren and her students have sent numerous care packages to U.S. military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also write letters to soldiers in those theaters, sending off 1,200 missives in 2005-2006. (The tally for 2006-2007 won't be available until the end of the school year.)

In 2006 the VFW named Martha Cothren their ‘Teacher of the Year’"

Ms. Cothren still teaches in L.R. AR


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