A Teacher To Remember – Gail Roub

The guest blog is written by Maralyn Dettmann.

As a child in a one room country school, I would make small newpapers to amuse myself. We moved a lot and in each new place, I would join the school newspaper staff and, if they did not have one, would find a teacher who would start one.  Then, after moving yet again, I hit the bonanaza! A high school that offered journalism as a class and giving credit for it!

That is how I met Gail Roub, who taught journalism as well as history. The very first year, I had him for both history and journalism. He was not like any teacher or person I had ever met. he had traveled all over the world and he would tell stories during history class that made historical people and events vivid.

The journalism class was more like a newsroom with teaching thrown in. We did not have mimeographed sheets stapled together this time. We worked with an actual hot type printer and went through all the processes from deciding content for the issue, layout, word counts, art and photos, gathering news, writing, typefaces, headlines, galley proofs, editing, distribution..etc. Editors of different pages had the same responsibilites as professional page editors, as did the publisher and art editor.  That was the real deal. Eventually, I took that class every year until finally graduating, at which time I stepped straight into a summer job as editor of the society page of the daily newspaper in our town.

I learned a great deal from Mr. Roub. Professionalism and standards and nuts &bots of the process are just givens. But he had more to offer.  He once showed us slides in class of some of the travels he had taken to different places in the world.  The stories that went with each picture were as vivid as his tales about the people and events of history. He made it seem real that a regular person could leave the little town they lived in and see the world. He held a brain-storming editorial meeting at his house where he had a real sculpture brought back from Italy and some paintings that he had done. he had purchased a tiny old house on the river and fixed it up himself and had made small tiles that he used in a mosaic that covered the wall over his bathtub.  During that meeting, he also showed the staff his small darkroom and taught them to use a REAL press camera (the old fashioned kind).

But it did not stop there.  Mr. Roub taught me to be art editor and also headline editor, giving me responsibility and trusting me to do it right. He did not lean over my shoulder, but just taught me how to do it and let go. Because we worked with a real printer, art work had to be prepared for hot type. That is a process of its own. The real challenge came when i had to produce a picture in color, which meant color seperations by hand. It was not the learning that was as important as the faith he had in me and that he accepted the work without “fixing it.”.

Mr. Roub was professional in his teaching and in his adherence to journalistic standards and practices. He made and collected real art, having traveled to great museums all over the world. Mr. Roub taugh tolerance, “getting all the facts” and how to spot and understand propaganda techniques.  He modeled to us a genuine, caring, dignified and intelligent man who inspired us to be our best selves. Most of all, he made me dream..of education..of travel..of having something to offer to others..to standing for somthing..to appreciate art, believe that I could actually own some real art, and to “become” rather than just drift through life. He opened the door to the world for me.

This blog was written by Maralyn Meiners Dettmann who left the dream town of  Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, to travel every continent except Antarctica. She has taught art in the public school as well as on the college level, noteably at North Central College in Naperville, IL. She has used her art abilities to create books for blind children to read. Presently, she lives with her husband, Ed, a physicist in Rhode Island.

One Comment:

  1. Wow! Your blog certainly triggered some wonderful memories. I, too, was fortunate to have Mr Roub as my history teacher in Hudson, Wi in 1958-59. Though I didn’t take journalism as a course, many of my friends did and learned so much from him. Everything you mentioned about his history lessons expressed my thoughts exactly. I especially remember his classes following the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958. Not being a Catholic, I was fascinated by his description of the history and process in selecting the new pope. He made history come to life, and it was like going to “story hour” rather than a dull history class. Those of us who were lucky enough to have him as a teacher are truly blessed.. By the way, when he taught in Hudson, he was a bachelor and new to teaching. Therefore, I was very surprised to see that he went on to become a father of 5 children!

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