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Marietta King

Dean of Women

Difference Maker

Nominator: Donald Mosser '65 M'68

Donald's Memories: "Donald, you run like a deer." 

I never realized how these six words, spoken to me by a Kutztown professor, would impact me for the rest of my life.

In 1961, Kutztown State College was a small school with a primary mission to educate students who wanted to become teachers. Registration for classes was simple, but time-consuming, since everyone had to stand in line for hours just to sign up for a semester of classes. 

The one course that all frosh (freshmen) had to take was the dreaded and despised English 101, which, to one student's dismay, could cause apoplexy and a belief that maybe English was not really their native language. Of course, my high school teachers taught me how to parse a verb and also how to diagram a sentence, but what they did not teach me was how to survive English 101. On the first day of class, my professor, a kindly little old lady (all adults look old to a kid of eighteen) with graying hair and a strict demeanor, warned us that she was going to teach English the old-fashioned way. Our primary text was the Scribner Handbook of English, copyright 1940, which covered everything one always wanted to know about English, but never really cared to learn. Needless to say, I struggled with this course and was happy to receive a passing grade at the end of the semester. I hope one takes notice that I failed to mention what my passing grade happened to be. Even though I learned more about the English language than I ever thought possible, I was elated that the required English 101 course was completed. However, I was even more overjoyed that my time with my kindly old-lady professor was over and done with, forever.

Registration for second semester classes commenced, and it was time to complete the other requirement for my English credit. I had to sign up for the dreaded English 102 composition course. I hoped this class would be easier, since I had already completed English 101.

The mystery of the identity of my new professor awaited me as I walked into my new English class; I suppose it is surprising for a teenage boy to not be as concerned about future classmates (i.e., good looking girls) or the course syllabus (but when did anyone care about the course syllabus?). I anxiously anticipated opening the door to my new English classroom and finding the perfect professor. In my mind, there would be no long reading assignments and no compositions, just classic movies. However, I knew that would never happen, so I stopped dreaming and opened the heavy wooden door. As I opened the door, low and behold and to my astonishment, who do I see but the kindly old-lady professor of my nightmares from English 101. "Oh no, English 102, 'the old-fashioned way,'" I said to myself. "Not again!"

There she stood, right in front of me, with a smile that I will never forget.

"Mr. Mosser, I see you can't get enough of me," she said enthusiastically. 

I greeted her with a sheepish grin and decided to sit in the front of the classroom for the semester. I realized that I would have to give my undivided attention to this class, and hoped there would be no distractions so I could possibly earn some brownie points.  I was not jubilant to see her standing there, but I knew I would have to work hard to succeed. Needless to say, with encouragement and compliments from her, and much perseverance on my part, I was very successful in English 102 and received a much better grade than in English 101.

The six little words that little old lady professor spoke to me have lingered in my head all these years. The exact memory is one that I am very fond of, and I often retell the story of what occurred that day. The story often begins:

When I attended Kutztown, I participated on the track and field team. After one of our meets, a little old lady English professor comes out of the stands. I am thinking to myself, I am not enrolled in your class, what's up? She says to me, "Donald you run like a deer." 

I reply, "I hope not like a John Deere." She laughs and walks back to the stands to watch the rest of the track meet. I feel her eyes watch me as I run the hundred yard dash.

That little old lady professor did not have to attend my track meet, or even say anything to me, but she did; little did she know, her small words of encouragement made a huge difference in my life. I realized she not only was a great teacher, but also cared about the well-being of her students. The "old-fashioned" style of teaching benefited me as a student, because I not only learned about English, but more importantly, I learned how one professor can have a significant impact on a person's character. I will always be grateful to her for those six words, and they will be with me forever. 

After graduation, I wrote to her and asked her if she would write a recommendation to graduate school for me. She did, and I was accepted into grad school at Kutztown and graduated in 1968. My sincere thanks goes to Dean of Women, Marietta King, because she made a difference in my life and has had a profound impact on me.

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