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New Indiana State scholarship has Greencastle ties

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A new Indiana State University scholarship was created by a former Greencastle teacher to honor her mother, another former Greencastle teacher.

The scholarship recognizes Muriel Rector Rockhill, who taught at Greencastle until 1967. It is funded by an endowment from her daughter, Nancy Walters Smith.

"I gave the endowment to ISU because my mother graduated from there," Smith said. "My brother also graduated from there, as did one of my sons. My brother told me that my grandfather had gone there too, and I didn't know that."

The scholarship will be open to ISU education majors who are sophomores or higher with a 3.0 GPA who can demonstrate a financial need.

Smith said that her mother had a long history at Greencastle.

"Delilah Miller was her principle when she started, which tells you how far back it was," Miller said. "The school named where they have the offices on Anderson Street after her."

Smith said that her mother began teaching In Fillmore in a one-room school. She then moved to Greencastle, where she eventually met Smith's father.

"When I was born she quit teaching for a number of years and then went back for her masters at a later date," Smith said.

Smith said Rockhill returned to teaching around the time of World War II.

"In those days it was very different," Smith said. "She was told when she applied for her first job that she didn't need the money because her husband had a job. That's the way it was."

Smith said she taught in Greencastle for five years and it was sometimes hard teaching in the same place as her mother.

"I had to listen to that all the time, what a good teacher my mother was," Smith said. "It kind of puts the womp to you when you're trying to be a teacher yourself. I was a high school teacher though, so we didn't cross paths much."

Smith said that her mother was always an elementary teacher.

"Second grade was her favorite, though she liked all the grades," Smith said. "I have a lot of letters, apparently she was a good teacher."

Rockhill also did summer tutoring.

Smith said that she began teaching in the Greencastle area in 1957 until 1964.

"They had a loan to encourage people to go back for education," Smith said. "I made more by going to school at Indiana University than I would have by teaching. I had five sons that they counted for the loan. And, I mean, they did have to eat regularly."

Smith went on to teach at Central Misssouri State University.

Smith spent her youth and young adulthood in Greencastle and still has fond memories of the area. She said she spent a lot of time on a bike.

"We went out to Crow's Bridge when I was a kid; we'd ride there on our bikes and horse around," Smith said. "My bike was my best friend, of course.

"I road over to Stilesville once with a friend," Smith said. "We rode over with our bikes and I think my grandfather brought us back."

As a child, Smith said that she had a special attachment to her mother.

"We had a large lot and we were right across from where Mason Hall used to be on Anderson," Smith said. "The kids would congregate at our house.

"If it was bad weather we'd sit on a porch and mother would make a story we could put in whatever we wanted for a story and she'd weave a story around it," Smith said. "She had read a lot of children's books and retained enough to make it interesting. Several of my friends just thought that was wonderful."

Smith also attended DePauw, majoring in history and Spanish.

"I wanted to go to Indiana; I had a scholarship but my dad thought DePauw was better," Smith said. "I think he was probably right, at least for me."

Smith said that she was part of a sorority while at DePauw. Even with that, there was a strong allure to home.

"I just ate there occasionally. Most of my time was spent at home," Smith said.

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