“I’d do it again” – teaching snapshots of Sarah Gleason
By Joe Gschwendtner; photos courtesy of “I’d do it again” by Sarah A. Gleason, Copyright 1982, Century One Press
Sarah Gleason was an only child of Irish immigrants born in Colorado City. She taught school in Douglas, Weld and Jefferson Counties from 1926 to 1978 and was widely recognized as an extraordinary teacher. During WWII, she taught soldiers and airman military subjects at Lowry Field and Fort Logan. The following excerpts are some special moments from her 1927-28 posting at Round Top School, a one-room schoolhouse three hundred yards west of the southbound Happy Canyon Road exit.
“Round Top School was in a very picturesque setting. It was on a high elevation overlooking a panoramic view of great beauty. The beautiful music (of the birds) filled the air with nature’s own music.”
“Not quite a month in this teaching situation had passed when two members of the Ku Klux Klan called on the school superintendent, Mr. Cyril Reynolds, to ask why he had hired Sarah Gleason, a known Catholic. When my father asked Mr. Reynolds how he had handled the situation, he responded, ‘I told them to go to hell.’ Mr. Reynolds was a very good Episcopalian.”
“Sometimes during our noon periods, we took lunches and went to Daniels Park. Then there were fantastic exploring expeditions up and down the numerous rocky hills. There were verdant meadows, tree covered rolling hills, and the Great Rocky Mountains with their ever changing shades of blue.”
“Little John, my first grader was adorable, but he presented a challenge as no matter the method, none brought the desired results. One day in desperation, I picked him up and placed him on my lap and started singing the numbers one through ten. To my complete amazement, John said them right after me. The only conclusion I could reach was that John was counting correctly as a self-defense mechanism so that I would not continue with my singing.”
“The textbooks I brought home each evening came in handy as I sat on them when I needed to be elevated to see the road better. The mud of Riley Hill (Daniels Park Road) could treacherously lead one within inches of a telephone pole or other large obstacles and a measure of precaution was used.”
“One spring day an unexpected snowstorm arrived. Its velocity was swift and fierce. We put away our books and made a dash for the Model T. We made a good start but before long the blinding snow was obscuring my vision and I was no longer sure of the exact location of the road. Forrest and Harold offered encouragement but I felt we were headed for trouble. Before long that feeling was verified. The poor old Model T gave one final chug and there we sat while the wild blizzard raged around us. I started praying fervently and God answered those prayers by having Mr. Bert Lowell, a rancher and his hired man come on horseback to our rescue.”
“In February 1979, Joe Grogan my fifth grade student came for a visit. As we recalled the highlight of the 1927-28 school term, Joe asked if I remembered the time when I told him to leave the classroom until he could behave properly. He said he went into the kitchen had a graham cracker and milk and when he returned to the classroom he had thought about his conduct and had decided to behave properly for the rest of his life. I am happy to report Joe has kept his promise.”
The Connection features a column titled “Wildcat Lore.” As it turns out, The Castle Pines Connection serves residents of the Wildcat Mountains, a name pioneers and historians gave to the high country paralleling I-25 from Highlands Ranch and Lone Tree south to Castle Rock.
Since the first territorial road (Daniels Park Road) bisected our mountains, there was no shortage of colorful characters parading through what are now private properties on the ridges of Douglas County. We bring these grizzled and gutsy settlers alive again, vividly sharing their stories of grit and achievement in these Castle Pines.