This article originally appeared in the Garland/Mesquite section of The Dallas Morning News on October 6, 1995.

By Michael R. Hayslip

Grace Davis Glaze, the lone surviving teacher from the old Handley School, and who was consolidated along with it into the Garland Independent School District, rang her first school bell in 1926. Now at 90, she proctors activity around the 200 wing of room units at the Rowlett Nursing Center, holding forth for friends, family and former students, some of whom have reached their mid-70s. She always looks spiffy, like she is about to start class. Sprinkling her commentaries with the lexicon of long ago, she laughs and jokes a lot, usually at herself, but no visitor leaves without a lesson, an assignment, or both.

Enrolled in this life on May 12, 1905, she was registered as Grace Davis, born in Lancaster to a farming family that later moved to Farmersville, where she started school.  Eventually the family came to Garland, where they expected Grace to get a better education, and she graduated from Garland High School in the class of 1924.

The self-styled “brat” of the Davis family soon matriculated at East Texas State Teachers College in Commerce in hopes that the faculty there could show her the ropes of teaching.  Apparently they did, because Grace still speaks of both the curriculum and faculty in lofty terms:  “Those professors of the time really knew how to train teachers, and they got me excited about it.  Later on, I got a masters degree from SMU, and I’m glad I did, but the main benefit from it was higher pay. The real content for teaching came from those years at East Texas (eyes squinted and finger pointed for emphasis).”

College graduation was something of an anticlimax, since teachers could teach in those days before their baccalaureate degrees were conferred, and “Miss Grace” Davis did just that, signing on in 1926 to teach at the Naaman School, then a county-operated neighborhood school located north of Garland. She claims they selected her because she could play the piano.  Wayde Brite (Cloud), “a wonderful friend with crooked stocking seams,” joined her periodically to teach elocution, but after a year she transferred to the Handley School, another county unit, situated west of Garland. Even then, she left on good terms with Clayborne Glaze, her principal at Naaman.

Settling in at Handley, she discovered some “mighty fine families” in the area who sent their children to her. “Teaching shaped me up,” she said, “and I worked hard at it. The two county school supervisors, Miss Moseley and Miss Watkins, were top-notch and demanding, but I mastered phonics under their influence. . . We had a good school; we scored high on all the achievement tests and almost all of the kids were a pleasure. Even some of the ones with mischief could be good students when they tried.”

When students ceased to be a pleasure, Miss Grace’s justice was sure and swift. “When that Irish temper rose,” said former Handley student Loyd Bryant, “her face would start to turn red, and everybody with any sense knew to take cover. . .I still remember the time she paid me a nickel to pipe down after she paddled me”.

“They really had to irk me before I grabbed the paddle,” responded Mrs. Glaze, “but when that happened, I just moved right up beside them and said ‘catch your ankles.’ Whap! Whap! Whap! That settled it. Girls got the same as the boys. My land! Some of those girls had more meanness than the boys!”

In matters of discipline, parents of the day expected and supported the teacher’s best efforts, according to Weldon Bell, another Handley alumnus. Once, he said, when Miss Grace was apprised of pecan pilfering by students at the nearby Rupard farm, she marched the whole group up the road and made them apologize to Mrs. Rupard..

With one good intention, however, she was thwarted by a parent who refused her plan to have the Garland Lions Club supply eyeglasses to enable his son to see the blackboard. “The man puffed up and declared ‘We don’t accept charity,’ “ reported Miss Grace, “so finally the boy quit school and found work driving a truck. He was later killed in a road accident, and I doubt that the poor boy ever saw what hit him.”

Outside class at lunch or recess -- held outdoors weather permitting -- Miss Grace maintained a special rapport with the students, who soon concluded that she had extensive experience with marbles. Both Bell and Bryant described Miss Grace as “a sharp shooter” who taught them not to underestimate an opponent.

Another practical lesson came from her recycling plan, which required students to separate uneaten food from their lunch bags each afternoon. The scraps were fed to nearby farmers’ hogs, and the bags were accumulated to kindle fire in the school’s wood-burning stove.  “That’s just sound thinking,” said Mrs. Glaze, “except that it worked too well. One cold day I overstuffed the stove with paper, and the high flames ignited the ceiling. If the farmer across the road hadn’t come running and put it out, we would have lost the whole building. Wouldn’t that have been a fine mess?”

By the mid 1930s the upper class (4th, 5th & 6th grade) Handley girls wanted a basketball team and asked the five-foot-tall teacher to coach. Mrs. Glaze recalls the girls as “excellent players,” and adds that they repeatedly bested the neighboring Centerville School’s team, coached by Clayborne Glaze, the Centerville principal she had met at the Naaman School.  The two married in 1939.

That was the year that the Garland ISD moved out to consolidate the dwindling Handley operation and its surrounding property-tax potential with the 11-year program of the Garland schools. Along with resident protest over new taxes, a question arose about the future of Mrs. Glaze, Handley’s sole remaining teacher. To resolve that issue Mrs. Glaze was added to the faculty of the Garland Elementary School at her existing salary of $150 per month. “Garland elementary teachers then were drawing $75 and high school teachers $125,” she said, “so I caught the brunt of some bad feelings from the others. I just wish they could all have gotten the $150."

Aside from brief forays into 4th and 7th grade classes, Mrs. Glaze spent the balance of her career among the first three grades, primarily the third. From the single Garland Elementary School on 9th Street she was reassigned to the W. C. Daugherty Elementary School, where she taught until her retirement in 1965. She continually honed her specialty as a reading teacher, and still maintains that “it’s not enough to have children recite a sentence that says ‘the dog is black’.   That’s just calling out words. I want ‘my children’ to identify the sentence that tells what color the dog is. That builds comprehension. At times I have even asked students to draw me a picture of what the sentence says, just to make sure they have the idea.”

Always quick on the trigger of praise, Mrs Glaze recounts some of those with whom she worked in the GISD, she says “Mr. (E.D.) Bussey and Mr. (H.D.) Pearson were wonderful superintendents; Alma Minick and Routh Roach were inspired teachers in the system. Whole families, like the Bells, the Bryants and the Merrimans, adopted me at Handley, and even more offered support after I transferred. And the children, so many I can’t even call all their names, did so well they made me proud. Today’s students may be better read, because they have better library access, but they can’t top the character and the brains of the ones I had.”

As a valedictory she mused, “I’m sure glad I never got fired.”