Miss Goldine Woodford
1958 GHS Senior Class Sponsor
by Patricia Orendorff Smith
I vividly remember Goldine Woodford, my English teacher, in Glenville, West Virginia. Impeccably dressed, one of my favorite teachers sported a perfectly starched white blouse tucked into her modest straight wool skirt. In the winter, she wore a soft sweater draped around her shoulders as she diagrammed sentences on a black chalkboard. With the scritch-scratch sound of chalk, she would place the noun on a perfectly drawn line, make a slash mark, and add a verb. Slanted lines ran off the straight line to accommodate adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions. Soon the diagrams appeared to be a strange maze of words, but looking back over the years, I now understand, with this simple act of diagramming, I learned the mechanics of language, how words fit in a sentence.
Miss Woodford exhibited perfect patience when we scratched our heads in bewilderment while deciding where a clause might fit. "Yes, Patti, that is right. Put it there," she would assure me when I seemed confused. Soon our ancient high school was torn down. While our new school was being constructed, we moved all our books and teachers to the "Poor Farm", a place which now sprouted concrete buildings across the property. Indian names (ours was Iroquois) attached to the doors assured us we were in the right room for our class. It did not matter that Miss Woodford had to teach in a concrete building with small windows allowing little light to filter into the room. What went on in that place for the school year stays with me to this day.
Miss Woodford taught me where a period goes, when to use a question mark, where commas are inserted, how to use a gerund, conjunction of verbs, independent clauses, how to make sense of a sentence, and how to increase sentences into paragraphs to make a complete essay. In that small-boxed space, Miss Woodford stood erect in front of our class with perfect posture and assurance that we would learn correct English in West Virginia! It did not matter that my drawl was pronounced. Miss Woodford made sure that we were grammatically correct. What patience, what encouragement, what fortitude she had with us, all twenty-nine of us. I remember her positive nature (never berating us in front of a fellow classmate) unlike my math teacher who pulled my hair and reduced me to tears.
When I think of English class at Glenville High School, I shall always have a special spot in my heart for Miss Woodford. Whenever I write a word or punctuate a sentence, I think of her. In my dreams at night, words form in my mind. I think of how she would place words on a page. She formed my writing foundation. If she were here, I would put my arms around her and give her a big hug.
After my husband's death in 1995, I began writing. I am published in eighteen publications including Mature Outlook, The Loyalhanna Review, Pittsburgh Boomers. Ideals Publications accepted two pieces. I am on the masthead of Small Town Life Magazine.
Patricia Orendorff Smith
Indiana, PA 15701