Ella M. Church
Life and Work
Ella Church taught Grade 1 and kindergarten for over 30 years. She had the same goal for each student: to read well, spell correctly, write neatly and calculate accurately and quickly.
Music made her classroom a joyous place. She provided professional training in solo and choral work and accompanied entrants in the Red Deer Music Festival. She helped those less musically inclined enjoy the sounds and rhythms of song.
Miss Church served as organist at the United Church for 35 years. At social functions, she played the piano and organ and raised her fine alto voice in a duet or quartet. Besides her public duties, Miss Church also cared for her ailing mother.
A dedicated teacher and gifted musician, Ella Church enriched the lives of people in Bowden and district for many years. She continued with her music after her retirement from teaching in 1962 until her death in 1990.
A Letter of Appreciation by Sheila Church
Box 68 Bowden,
Alberta TOM OKO
September 30, 1995
Mrs. S. Runham, Secretary Bowden Museum Board Bowden,
Alberta TOM OKO
Re: "Women of Aspenland" Project
Dear Mrs. Runham:
In support of my submission of the name of Ella Church as a fitting candidate to be honoured in the Women of Aspenland project, I would like to add these personal comments.
Miss Church was my grade one teacher, and in those days before Kindergarten programs, that meant she was my first teacher. During my first year of school, I was very sick, and missed over half the days. It wouldn't have been unusual for me simply to have had to repeat Grade 1, but Miss Church taught her students as individuals. She worked with me using a continuous progress concept, and by the end of my second year in school, she had me working at the required level for a student finishing Grade 2. During all of this, I never felt threatened or in any way inferior. In fact, it wasn't until many years later, when I became a teacher myself, that I fully realized what she had done for me.
I know that experiences similar to mine were repeated time and time again over the years. Students with learning disabilities, students who were gifted, students who had to stay home to help with the harvest ... all were taught as individuals so that their potentials could be developed to the fullest.
Miss Church also encouraged in me a lifelong love of music. My father was a fine tenor who loved to entertain, and she was his most frequent accompanist, so when I started school she made sure that the family trait was encouraged. I was trained to sing soprano, as well as in duets and choirs. Miss Church made it easy because she had such an accurate ear that she could instantly transpose any piece of music to the key that suited her singer best.
However, probably Miss Church's greatest contribution was to students who had no music in their homes - She enriched their lives in a way that otherwise would not have been possible for them.
Although no doubt other people could praise Miss Church for other qualities, these two, dedicated individualized teaching and the sharing the gift of music are the ones which personally affected me. I can honestly say that Miss Church made a difference in my life.