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Earning your desk

The Way I See It

December 9, 2012
By John Sheda , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

I came across this story a while back, and even though it's not the first day of school or Veteran's Day, I think whenever we get the opportunity to thank a teacher or a Veteran, we should. I hope you think so as well.

Back in 2005, a Social Studies teacher by the name of Mrs. Corthren at Robinson High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school that year and with permission of the Superintendent, Principal & School Board members, she had all of her school desks removed from her classroom. When the kids entered her room that first day, it was completely empty, including her own desk. Amazed, shocked and confused, they queried, "Mrs. Corthren, where are all the desks?"

Mrs Corthren answered. "I've had each one removed on purpose and you don't get them back until you can tell me how you earn them." Twenty-five students looked around at the empty room with sheer bewilderment until one piped up, "Ah, I bet it's our grades." Mrs. Corthren smiled and shook her head. Another one knew she had the answer and said, "I know, it's about our classroom behavior." Again, Mrs. Corthren shook her head answering, "Nope, it has nothing to do with either your grades or your behavior."

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Several other responses were given and they weren't right either. So there they stood in Mrs. Corthren's classroom with no desks. Second period came, same thing. Third period came, the room was still empty. By early afternoon, the local television station heard about this and came to see what this crazy teacher was doing and what this no desks in the classroom was all about.

Finally, at the last period of the day, Mrs. Corthren had all her students meet in her room, along with the Superintendent, Principal and School Board members. The room was completely full and she said, "Throughout the day no one has really understood how you earn your desks and the right to sit in them on a daily basis. Here is your answer."

She left the classroom, walked down the hallway, turned the corner and disappeared. After what seemed like an eternity, she reappeared followed by twenty-seven U.S. Veterans in full uniform, each one carrying a single desk, and two more carrying the teacher's desk too. As they placed the school desks in row after row, they then stood against the four walls of the school room until all the soldiers were standing at attention against the walls.

And as they did this, everyone...Students, Superintendent, Principal & School Board members, as well as all the other teachers, understood exactly how those desks were earned.

Mrs. Corthren explained, "You don't have to earn those desks. These brave men and women did it for you. They put themselves on the line for you, but it's up to you to sit in them responsibly to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have that desk. Don't ever forget that."

We thank all the Mrs. Corthren's of the world and especially all of our Veterans.

That's The Way I See It. Let me know how you see things at or call me at 319-334-4117.



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