Remembering Miss Marx

Permission is granted to reprint the following article as long as no changes are made and the byline, copyright information, and the resource box is included. Please let me know if you use this article by sending an email to

Remembering Miss Marx

Copyright © June 29, 2001 Douglas W. Jerving.
All Rights Reserved.

I was in fourth grade in the Fall of 1966 when we moved across town. The rest of that year I was in a new school, with plenty of new kids and a new teacher. A hall monitor walked me up to a second floor classroom and introduced me to the teacher there. She was young, and kind of pretty, and her name was Miss Marx. We stood together before all those new faces, and, in a very Southern accent, she announced "Class, this is Douglas."

I was assigned a seat next to a fellow named Dave, who befriended me right away. He insisted I would hate Miss Marx's class. Not that this pretty young lady was a tyrant or anything. She just expected to much. Miss Marx gave us more homework than any poor kid should have to do. I know this is what every schoolboy thinks, but in this case it was true!

Miss Marx's blackboards were jammed from one end of the classroom to the other with grammer assignments, all of which was that evening's homework. We had to write all our answers out in full sentences or they were an automatic zero. We had to correct the errors and explain why they were wrong. And the next day our reward was more of the same.

Blackboard after blackboard! Page after page! "Study each sentence and rewrite it correctly, explaining in your own words why it is wrong." No, Miss Marx was not a tyrant. She was a slave driver! We were pushed far beyond the boundaries any of us thought we could go. My new friends all hated her, and tried to get away with as little as possible, or play dumb to convince her they just couldn't do it.

But Miss Marx, as I said, was pretty and young. She was full of energy, drive and ambition. And Miss Marx really cared! It was that combination of things that made me want to achieve more for her. Every day I drove myself into those grammer studies, and sentence corrections, and after a while they started becoming easier; even enjoyable.

We all like to look back and remember our favorite teacher. Well, Miss Marx, the tough, young slave driver, was mine. In the fourth grade I never would have guessed that this woman with such teaching zeal would make an impact on my life. But I realize that because of her I actually enjoy reading and writing. She got me over the hurdle that stands before so many young people today - the discipline of proper grammar. Once I got past that, writing for my own enjoyment became a lot easier.

Remembering Miss Marx today, I realize something else. I didn't just learn to love reading, writing, grammar and composition. I learned something more; something infinitely larger than those things from her. I discovered that I could do greater things than I ever expected of myself. I learned to push myself beyond the preset limits. I found that we all have the capacity within us for greatness. We can achieve anything we set our hearts on.

There is nothing that is godly and noble that you or I cannot do! We may be weak and deficient in some areas. Thought patterns we grew up with may leave our minds and hearts feeling very limited. We may feel pressure from friends, family and co-workers to conform to their mediocrity. But we have the ability to overcome if we really want to. We have power within us to think outside of the box.

Everyone has been given talents; some ten, some five, some two. Those talents will remain latent, buried deep within our hearts, never producing greatness, unless we put them to use. They are cash that must be invested, bringing a return. They are seeds that must be planted, and cultivated. They must weather the storms of life or they will never produce new life of their own. By use they will produce more. That is a law of the universe!

This was the thing Miss Marx knew that she sought to instill in her students. The power of our resident talents, abilities, and strengths must be birthed by use. They will develop and grow strong by lifting them like weights.

The dynamite by which we overcome has been placed in the hearts of us all by God. Bringing forth greatness first in our selves and then in others is what we are here for. Great achievement always starts in the heart. Through use it is then forced to grow up strong and produce wonderful fruit after it's kind. That fruit nourishes others to release their bound up potential as well. Life produces life!

I learned how to write well in Miss Marx's class. But I learned successful living from Miss Marx's life.


Doug Jerving is the publisher of the You may contact him at


Return to The New Edison Gazette main site.