Grace Bauske

Honored by:John Forssman, Keith Carlson, Mona Smith, Carolyn Bolinger, Annette Rowley, Fay Larkins, Wayne Hansen, John Sletten and LoAnn Campbell
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A Tribute to Grace Bauske: A Love Story Pure and Simple

Ames High School English Teacher: 1962-1986
Harper Lee said of her novel "To Kill a Mockingbird," "It's a love story pure and simple." The same can be said of Grace Bauske's twenty-four years of teaching at Ames High School. They too comprise a special kind of love story. Her students experienced this love most fully. When she retired, three students expressed their gratitude for this woman whose greatest happiness is to bring about the happiness of others.

The first student discusses the lasting impact of Grace's English class: Some people say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the same right Mrs. Bauske's class was worth a thousand compliments. Her cheery face was always a warm welcome to her classroom as she would shepherd us in to revel in the joy of increasing our vocabulary and discovering how fabulous ordinary reality could be. I know that I will never fully realize the worth of her class as I can never completely describe what her class meant to me.

The next speaker affirms Grace's love for her students: [What] made Mrs. Bauske a great teacher is her enthusiasm. She loves life, other people, nature, and teaching. In her classroom it was hard not to catch her enthusiasm for the whole created world. Whenever we discussed a book or play or poem that she particularly loves, Mrs. Bauske wanted . . . her students to love it as much as she. Mrs. Bauske also loved her students and had faith in them. When someone believes in people like she does, it brings out the best in them. She was the senior class sponsor for many years. I was looking forward to her working with my class; I know walking on stage won't be the same without Mrs. Bauske waiting at the end of the platform.

The final speaker celebrates how Grace awakened him to beauty: As she encouraged her writing students to open their eyes to the wonder and beauty of the real world, Mrs. Bauske often invoked Henry David Thoreauls words 'Fabulous Reality.' A Fabulous Reality could be the sparkling shimmer of icicles in the morning sun, or the sunsets in August that set the clouds on fire. In learning how to appreciate the world, those of us who were Mrs. Bauske's students inevitably realized that one of the most . . . fabulous realities in our world was Mrs. Bauske herself.

Grace Bauske left Ames High students and staff a rich legacy of love and hope and faith. Important in this legacy is her love for words and for the rich spiritual truths they express. Probably there is no piece of literature dearer to Grace's heart than the play "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder and no speech more characteristic of Grace's enthusiasm for life itself than Emily's speech to the stage manager when she returns to earth on her twelfth birthday: I can't. I can't go on. Oh! Oh. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. I didn't realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed . . . . Oh earth you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?--every, every minute?

Despite all the normal stresses, disappointments, and heartache that come with the passing years, Grace continues to notice. She has never lost her child like excitement for the living poetry she sees in the ordinary detail of our natural world or the living wonder she sees in her students, in her colleagues, and in her special family. "Oh earth you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you" is still written into Grace's enthusiasm for the miraculous details of each day and for the gift of life itself.

One of Grace's favorite books is "A Circle of Quiet" by the award-winning children's writer Madeleine L'Engle whose words go to the heart of what Grace's teaching has meant to her students and what her faith in teaching can mean to those of us still struggling to make our students love stories, too: The creative impulse like love can be killed, but it cannot be taught.

What a teacher or librarian or parent can do in working with children is to give the flame enough oxygen so that it can burn. As far as I'm concerned this providing oxygen is one of the noblest of all vocations. Thank you, Grace, for twenty-four years of keeping so many flames burning!  In gratitude and love from her colleagues.