Monmouth Professor Emerita turns 100

Local News

A woman who’s part of the Monmouth College community is celebrating a big birthday.

Esther White turned 100-years-old today. She spent 50 years as a teacher and professor starting in Keokuk. She’s now a professor emerita at Monmouth college.

“I went to school for the first, probably until third or fourth grade in a horse-drawn school bus,” White said. “Because we lived in the country.”

That was one of Esther White’s first memories of school and her enjoyment of it led her to teaching. In a one-room schoolhouse in Keokuk in 1938. She recalls some of the classrooms of yesteryear.

“Sitting in the very middle of every rural school was a huge heating stove,” White said. “And it was up to me, the teacher, to keep the fire going.”

In 1974, she started teaching as an education professor at Monmouth College, where she passed on her most important lesson to future educators.

“You don’t ever give up on a child,” White said. “He may be not what you want or expect, or not what you hoped for but you never give up on a kid. Trying to do that, and if he didn’t learn to read the first time, he may learn to read the next time.”

White says her childhood eating habits is what got her to 100.

“Sugar was rationed, and we didn’t have things like colas and cokes, but we had a wonderful garden.”

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