Mrs. Evelyn Root
Mrs. Root was a master teacher. She taught French, Spanish and Latin, one after another for six periods every school day. She came to us from the state of New York, where her students were tested by the famous Regents Tests. She referred to that test and the rigor of it sometimes.
She was a small woman, about five feet tall two or three, and wore nice business suits to school. Mrs. Root ran a tight ship without being a martinet or even a disciplinarian. She realized each class period had a lot to accomplish, and she wanted to move things along. She was also methodical, and we could tell she had many decades of experience in her profession. She knew what she was doing.
We had standard textbooks for her classes, of course, and Mrs. Root led us through the readings in them. She spoke quickly and she’d often make remarks about vocabulary and all aspects of grammar — and she’d mention her son who was then in medical school at Stanford, the apple of his mom’s eye. Once in a while she’d tell a story, or even a little joke, but she kept on schedule.
All teachers have favorite students, I think, but not all favor them in class, and Mrs. Root was that way. She made sure everyone in her classes kept up with what was going on, and she cared about every one of us.
The legendary Ron Jackson, ’67 was in my Latin classes with Mrs. Root, and being extraordinarily bright, Ron sometimes permitted himself to daydream a little in class, or appreciate the female beauty present, or think of other things. He always at at the back of class and liked to put his feet up on the chair in front of him. Mrs. Root was not fooled, and she liked Ron. But she would try to surprise him by calling on him to translate.
It was comical the way Ron would shift his attention to her suddenly, murmur, “Uh, OK .. “, remove his feet from the chair, sit up straight, and find the place where we were reading. Within what seemed like one second, he would read, “Having secured the hill, Caesar prepared .. “ — well, you know. And he was invariably pitch perfect.
Mrs. Root would beam.
After or before class, she’d talk to us in a kind, grandmotherly way, usually while she got ready for a lesson. One of the ’67 women revealed to me that Mrs. Root advised her:
“Never marry a man who is not as intelligent as you are.”
Maybe I’ll remember more things Mrs. Root said. Again, she cared deeply about her students. I’ll never forget the look of pride in her eyes when someone translated a passage well, or answered a question about tense or person correctly. She knew Latin was a tremendously valuable subject, as it still is now.
She was a wonderful lady, and I liked her a lot.
My class had:
Marsha Hebden, ’66
Ron Jackson, ‘67
Dennis Napoli, ’68
George Robinson, ’68 (I’ll check to be sure that was his name)