Mildred was born on October 26, 1923, an only child and raised in Preston attending the original Preston Public School and then Preston High School at the end of Moore Street. She says that she had always wanted to be a teacher because she had looked after little kids all the time. So, after graduating from high school, she attended Hamilton Normal School.
For the next three years, from 1942 to 1945, she taught at her first school, SS#2 Eramosa, a one room rural school with students ranging from Grades 1 to 8. She earned $850 for her first year and paid $5 per week for board.
The school was heated by two stoves. Fortunately, a grade 7 student became her “fireman”. He passed her boarding house at 8:00 a.m. and had the school heated by 9:00 a.m.As you entered the lobby of her school you saw the woodbox in the middle flanked by a one-holer for the girls on the right hand side and on the left, the one-holer for the boys. There were no flush toilets in rural areas in the early 1940’s.Also, there was no telephone at the school. If ever there was an accident she would have to send a student runner down the road to the nearest farm. Outdoors, there was no equipment for the students to use. There were no teachers’ meetings and she had no contact with other teachers in the area. In addition, she was not involved in the community. The only time she saw the parents was at her Christmas concert. She was lonely because she was all on her own and really couldn’t go anywhere. That’s why she always went home on the weekends. During the winter, Senior girls made soup or hot chocolate to augment the students’ lunches. The cost was funded by the board. Drinking water had to be hand pumped and stored in the school in a pail. The GradE 8 students had to write Ontario departmental exams at a Guelph school. The inspector came once a year, usually in May. But, you were considered to be a good teacher if you put on a good Christmas concert and if the Grade B’s passed their exams!