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Planter of Seeds

I enjoyed “Deeply Rooted” (winter 2017), in part because I count myself a seedling of Ida Palmer Stabler, Class of 1898’s Swarthmore family tree. Lois Kelly Stabler ’49 was my high school history teacher. Mrs. Stabler opened up wider worlds for students in our public high school in Keene, N.H. She took us to the Metropolitan Museum of Art; introduced us to Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic religious traditions; and had us research and debate current issues, from abortion to the Vietnam War.

Lois Stabler encouraged her students to be educated and aware citizens, and she encouraged me to apply to Swarthmore. My family’s income was low enough to qualify for a precursor of the Perkins Loan program, but Mrs. Stabler assured me that would be no barrier.

Sadly, Lois Stabler died in 2007. A decade later, we have a president hostile to the respect for facts, and for all human beings, that I learned in her classes. But Mrs. Stabler, and the Swarthmore education she helped me gain, also gave me the tools to fight back.

On Jan. 21, I joined three Swarthmore classmates (all us of educators), and over half a million other people, at the Women’s March on Washington. As we stood near the White House chanting, “This is what democracy looks like,” I silently thanked Mrs. Stabler, and all the other teachers who have made a difference in my life.

—MARY BATTENFELD ’80, Jamaica Plain, Mass.