Grammar School With Teacher Koepsell, 1933-1939


Attending school at "Twin Mountain" (Immanuel Lutheran, Copperas Cove) was a wonderful learning experience for me. I'm not sure what it was for the teacher. I say "the teacher" because there was only one, Mr. Arnold Koepsell. The school had only one room, which was an advantage to us kids because we never had to adjust to a new teacher or a new room.

I consider Mr. Koepsell to be one of the great influences in my life. He not only gave me the necessary "book learning," but he taught me many of the lessons and responsibilities of living.

As I reflect back on those years, I wonder how Mr. Koepsell was able to teach thirty to fifty children in grades one through seven. Some of his methods were very ingenious. The first hour and a half of the day was devoted to religion: forty-five minutes of reciting memory work, and forty-five minutes of bible stories.

The memory work became progressively more difficult as you progressed through school. It included Bible verses, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, The Apostles Creed, and, I believe, all of Luther's Small Catechism. Each class was called to the front, and stood at their assigned places on each side of the teacher's desk. Teacher Koepsell, as he was referred to, asked each to recite. The class then returned to their seats, and the next was called up.

Bible stories were handled differently. As I recall, each class was assigned a different story. Mr. Koepsell would call on only one or two from each class to come to the front of the room to tell the story. As he called your name, you went and did your thing, or if you were not prepared, you simply said, "pass." The Teacher made notes on your performance. It was best to be prepared every day. By the time you got to the seventh grade, you knew lots of Bible stories - some with rather interesting twists as told by the kids.

Most of the subjects were taught with the students of each class going up front and standing by the teacher's desk. There was no talking permitted by the other students - maybe a little note passing. If you needed to leave the room for any reason - you raised your hand, and when the teacher acknowledged you, you stated your reason. Most kids planned not to have to leave the room - or be subject to considerable teasing.

The classroom, when in session, was always orderly. During recess and lunch, you were supposed to be outside, except in real bad weather. The girl's outhouse was about forty yards to the west in a clump of live oak trees. The boy's was about 100 yards north behind the church on the side of the mountain. These were not usually referred to as the "bathroom" or "restroom" since running water was nowhere nearby.

This one teacher, one room school served the church community well for more than fifty years. The building is still there today serving as a Sunday School Building ­ helping kids learn their Bible stories.

Vic Mathias - August 3, 2001

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March 1982