Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Love of History Has Been a Constant in Teacher's Life

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Love of History Has Been a Constant in Teacher's Life

Article excerpt

Byline: Christina Swanson

Westside resident Harriet Kimball Ross' love for history and people has guided her life choices and her impact on others.

Growing up on a farm in Livingston County, Ill., she enjoyed reading historical pieces between farm chores. Her love for history culminated in earning a master's degree in history and English at Illinois State University. She taught student teachers how to teach, then, after getting married, she followed her husband, William, to Jacksonville, where she taught history to juniors at Robert E. Lee High School.

That's until a friend, Jean Fey, asked her to help for one week at her kindergarten.

"That's where I learned that everything begins in pre-school," said Ross. "A child's attitude and aptitude toward learning is shaped before elementary school. I wanted to play a part in starting children on the right course," said Ross.

That's when she opened Ortega Kindergarten for 3- to 5-year-olds with a pre-school curriculum unique to most kindergartens at the time.

She relates this decision to a quote from her favorite historical figure, Abraham Lincoln. Ross favors Lincoln for his vital leadership, notable character and perseverance.

Among the many famous quotes, this relatively obscure one inspired Ross to teach the very young: "There are no accidents in my philosophy. Every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present and the present will be the cause of the future. All these are links in the endless chain stretching from the finite to the infinite."

Ross earned her Ph.D. in education at the University of Florida while guiding and teaching at her pre-school for 21 years in the '60s and '70s. Coincidentally, around that same time, her sister, Arlene Kincaid, helped develop the educational magazine Highlights for Children, which is still going strong today.

"It was interesting to teach the children of those I taught at Lee High and see similar characteristics," said Ross. "It has been a wonderful opportunity to help some of our youngsters begin their academic life with their future success in mind."

Learning to appreciate life

While Ross has enjoyed teaching the very young, Westside resident Joe Beaugh gets satisfaction from helping the elderly as a physical therapist with Brooks Rehabilitation. …

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