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MEEKER I “That discipline which corrects the eagerness of worldly passions, which fortifies the heart with virtuous principles, which enlightens the mind with useful knowledge, and furnishes to it matter of enjoyment within itself, is of more consequence to real felicity then all the provisions which we can make of the goods of fortune.” This quote by 19th century poet Robert Bridges is a beautiful summary of the importance of quality teachers like Norine Holland.
Born and raised in Meeker, Holland’s parents were Archie and Josephine Holland. Archie Holland had a ranch 10 miles up the White River. He began in the cattle business but when the sheep industry was more profitable he moved in that direction. Josephine Holland was the county superintendent of schools for more than 20 years and inspired her daughter to pursue a teaching profession. She traveled to all the rural school houses as part of her duties and many of the students at those schools vividly remember her visits.
Norine Holland, her sister Mary (Bill) Murray, her brother Bud (Maxine) Holland, and her other brother Barney (Colleen) Holland all attended school in Meeker. She was graduated from high school in Meeker in 1935. She knew she wanted to go on to college and that meant getting a job to pay her own way. Her father died young and that meant all the children went to work to pursue their own ambitions.
She attended the University of Colorado in Boulder where she earned a degree in education and returned to Meeker to teach. Her first year was in a rural school house where she taught every subject to every grade.
“The rural school teachers were the best,” she said. She then taught first grade in town for eight years before going back to college in Boulder to get her master’s degree. She believed if teaching was to be her profession, she needed to get the best education possible. She said when she came back once more to teach in Meeker there were two or three other teachers who also had their master’s degrees.
She moved to Denver to teach in the Denver Public Schools, sticking with the first grade. She always would come back to visit Meeker as her sister Mary lived in town and the two were very close.
“I liked the children. You really have to care for them, they know if you do or if you don’t.” She talked a great deal about the importance of teachers, saying, “Kids won’t behave unless you make them.”
She is a modest woman but knows she was very good at what she did. She worked hard to be a good teacher and recalls the early years being difficult. In the rural schools, she explained, “you had to teach everything, then have a dance on Fridays.” The time was demanding but good teachers were hard to come by. That was certainly the case in Denver where she worked until she retired.
Teaching was in her family, she said. “It was all I ever heard.” She worked for her mother for many years. This did not create any problems, only once did her mother move her to an area that needed a good teacher, the previous ones had been run out of the rural school house and Josephine Holland knew her daughter would prevail in the environment.
Born in 1917, Norine Holland was recognized at the 2011 Old Timers Celebration as the oldest woman in attendance. She is currently 95. When asked what has changed the most in Meeker over the years she said, “It hasn’t changed that much, Meeker really hasn’t changed that much, it is what makes it neat.” She added, “If it is your home town, you have everything.” She has seven nieces and nephews, and several grand-nieces and grand-nephews as well as great-great family members. She is a teacher who had a very positive impact in her profession and she takes pride in having been good at what she did. Her success as a teacher was a result of her hard work and dedication to her field. She said, “I never had a job in college, I believed you needed full time to focus on college so you could have a good reputation.”
She maintained that discipline throughout her career to ensure she was always doing the best for her students. What a great example she set for so many years in a profession that continues to prepare our children for the world ahead.