Miss Alene Sadler: Most Influential

When the Class of 1965 filled out the bio information for the 20th reunion in 1985, 18 students listed Miss Alene Sadler as their most influential teacher.

She was one of the toughest and best teachers I had. Miss Sadler was not one to trifle with lightly. After she marked one of my answers wrong on a test, I brought in  a stack of books the next day to prove my point. She conceded that I was correct, but I had a clear sense that I may have won the battle, but the war was going to be distinctly unpleasant.

Missouri Teacher of the Year

I did a Missourian search, but couldn’t find an obit or any current information on Miss Sadler. There were lots of stories going back to 1925 about her musical performances, but little about her teaching. She WAS named Missouri Teacher of the Year in 1964. Looks like we were fortunate enough to catch her in her prime.

Comments from the Class of 65

Charlie Baldwin: She was an excellent instructor who demonstrated the ability to teach subject matter in a very interesting fashion while at the same time developing positive relations with students. She has been a very good role model for me during my career.

Vicky Berry Dereign: The teachers who influenced me were Miss Sadler and Miss Sivia, they set a standard for me after which I have tried to pattern my own teaching. (Humorous memories: “I remember how Kenny Steinhoff used to argue about everything, including the pros and cons of kissing.”) [Editor’s note: I have no idea what she’s talking about.]

Lee Dahringer: …for developing an appreciation of and an interest in effective communication and analytical thought.

Put my brain to work

Peggy Estes Goddard: She was creative and caused me to really put my brain to work.

Connie Hall Schwab: Her efforts helped me to realize that proper English and grammar are essential in every aspect of one’s life.

Marsha Harris Vangilder: Taught me to read – just for pleasure.

Alice Lynn Snell: The skills that she stressed have had a lasting effect and have helped much in my career.

Love of students

Marsha Marshall Gutshall: Her love of the students and her strong desire to impart knowledge.

Connie Nelson Copsy: She treated us as adults and prepared us for college, while still getting the information across.

Mary Ponder Wyss: I still recall and utilize many of the things learned in her class.

Victoria Roth Hardy: Most influenced by Miss Sadler’s exposure to the Humanities and the Arts. [Vicky] had fond memories of Miss Sadler’s harp player.

Michael Seabaugh: … for her being able to open up the world in all its glorious depth and breadth.

Ken Steinhoff: She tried to teach me how to express myself clearly on paper.

32 Replies to “Miss Alene Sadler: Most Influential”

  1. I had her in 1972. She brought some of her best students to her home for a lunch and discussion one day. She was a major influence on me with her enthusiasm and lust for life and wonderful disposition about teaching. She brought out the best work in all students. She was definitely one of the best teachers I ever had.

  2. I can still picture her standing in the classroom! Like many others have mentioned, she helped form me into a reader and a thinker. Although strict, she was very fair. I remember doing a Humanities project in her class. It had something to do with art or music or something. We had to record things on cassette tapes. I chose some of my favorite “rock” songs. Not exactly an interest of hers. But she listened to it just as intently as the classical ones. And gave me a good grade! Thanks for sharing these photos.

  3. Ms. Sadler was the first truly educated person I knew. She seemed to have knowledge of herself and of the essence of what it was to be a human being. She made me look at all sides of an issue logically. She often spoke of the humanists of the 16th and 17th centuries as people who knew everything that there was to know at that time in history and urged us to be educated in all areas of the human experience. She taught me how to write. She lived and taught courage and integrity. I have thought of her often through the years and especially in my journey these last 5 or so. She was one of the most influential people in my life.

  4. I agree that Ms. Sadler and Madame Silvia were prominent, intelligent ladies who loved their profession, and imparted not only information but the crucial ability to analytically think to each and every student.

  5. Miss Sadler died March 19, 2000. She lived most, if not all her life, on the 300-block of North Park Avenue, close to the college and across the street from the Kinder family and two other great teachers, Grace Williams and Peach Willer. In her late years, she had become more solitary and private, which may explain why the obituary in the Southeast Missourian was so spare, stating only that she died at her home, that she taught at Cape Central 42 years, and that she is survived by two nephews, Glen Sadler, Jr., of Huntsville, Alabama, and Pat Sadler of Atlanta, Georgia. No age was given, but I know that she was in her late 80s.
    Although I had not been one of her English students (Inez Smith instead), for three years in high school, I had been her sole piano student. And although most of her English students agreed that she was a master teacher, most never realized that she also was a master pianist and organist. In fact, she served a number of years as music director and organist at Centenary Methodist Church.
    After her retirement, it was my privilege to represent her in the handling of her legal affairs and her estate planning. To the end, she was a remarkable lady, a master teacher, and a dear friend and mentor.

    1. Steve,

      Thanks for the update. When I went to the Google News Archives, it seemed that every story was about her as a musician. I don’t remember that side of her from English Class.

      You’re right about the lack of detail in her Missourian obit, which ran Mar. 23, 2000. Any idea when she retired?

  6. There are few that are truly passionate about teaching. She imparted in me an appreciation of the Humanities and the written word. I’m sure she left her mark on any student that was fortunate to have her as “Teacher”.

  7. One day after Miss Sadler retired I was talking to her and ask why she had retired, especially since she loved teaching and the many students she had taught over the years. She told me that the students were now unruly and disrespectful and that teaching had changed. Since she was past the age of retirement she decided to call it quits and enjoy life. I was so sorry that our children did not have the experience of having her as their English and Humanities teacher. I still remember the first A I received on a paper done in her class. I felt like framing it!



  9. I was fortunate to have Miss Sadler as my teacher while at Central. I can’t remember a time when I was not glad to walk into her classroom. She taught me to appreciate literature from eras that I never would have chosen on my own. From her, I learned to think for myself and to analyze all aspects of a subject… and to be able to transfer my thoughts coherently to paper. She was incredibly professional and, as Libby said, a lady of dignity and grace.

  10. Miss Sadler was my favorite teacher of all 12 grades. She made me feel important and instilled in me a great appreciation of good grammar. Our boys received the benefit of her teaching through me and I hope it has enhanced them as it did me.

  11. I remember Alene Sadler very well. I learned much english as well as enunciation from her. Our class reunion went to her home in the 1990’s and she was happy to see us. She was one of the great English teachers of the past as was Grace williams in math.

  12. John Baker’s remark about Miss Sadler urging students to “grow all their lives” is remarkable for the time. In early America there was great interest in what was called “self-cultivation,” and Miss Sadler’s admonition seems to echo that sentiment. I too was mentored by Inez Smith, as someone else mentioned, and gained greatly thereby, but from remarks above I sense a loss from not having experienced Ms. Sadler’s guidance too. Thanks, Ken, for highlighting her and to others for their valuable recollections.

  13. Miss Sadler was a legendary teacher. As some of you have said, she not only taught us how to read for pleasure but to think and learn as well.
    She was a great lady.
    Mike Bristow ’68

  14. Ken — In response to your inquiry, I believe that Miss Sadler retired in the late ’70s, along with several other long-serving (and long-suffering!) teachers, but I will try to confirm. In view of so many kind comments about Miss Sadler, and with your permission, I will forward all of this to her nephew, Pat Sadler, who is a lawyer in Atlanta. Steve

    1. Steve, yes, please forward the URL. It’s rewarding to think the blog is helping connect family members and friends.

      I don’t have to tell you how much her students admired her. You knew her and what a commanding presence she had. She had the ability to take you a step beyond what you thought you could do.

  15. Miss Sadler’s class was the only one I never skipped because I loved it so much! I still have my old English Lit book from her class.

  16. I am so pleased to see Miss Sadler so fondly remembered. She was a great help to me my Senior year after my father died. She was the kind of teacher who fortunately did not have to teach to the test as required today. She taught the individual student and pushed for each of us to achieve excellence. In my teaching career, I often thought of her.

  17. i too had miss saddler for a teaching in 1972. it was a very enjoyable class.i also had mary z reed. mary’s classes was more serious.i felt like she was truly from another era. inez smith lived next door to us when we live at 121 north westend blvd.

  18. I graduated in 1957 from Central. Miss Sadler was my favorite teacher of all time. I had always been an avid reader but after being in Miss Sadler’s classes for two years I had a much greater appreciation of the classics and non-fiction books. I was privileged to have Miss Alene play for my wedding at Trinity Lutheran Church, Cape Girardeau on June 2, 1957. She was a marvelous musician as well as a fantastic teacher. The teaching profession lost one of the truly best when she retired.

  19. I enjoyed Ms. Sadler in class and was her next door neighbor for the summer of 1969 after Don and I married before we moved on to Rolla, MO., for a semester. I remember a day in class when she discovered a word she didn’t already know. A lot of teachers of her age wouldn’t have revealed their learning. She delighted in it.

  20. We were very fortunate to have had so many really GOOD teachers at CHS. I loved being in Miss Sadler’s class for two years, and I learned much about literature and life from her. She was a wonderful teacher and a great lady.

  21. Steve Limbaugh was kind enough to forward this message from Pat Sadler, Miss Sadler’s nephew:

    Hi Steve:

    I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to receive the blog comments of you and your classmates. They made my day, my week and my year!

    My Aunt Alene (known to my brother and me all our lives simply as Sissy), was truly a special person. She had many interests, from literature to music to baseball. I wonder if the baseball part will come as a surprise to some of your classmates, but I can assure you she loved Lou Brock as much as she loved Beethoven.

    But, there was nothing she loved more than her students. When she would write to me in college and afterward, she was always describing in great detail and with great pride the accomplishments of her former students.

    As accomplished as she was, she was a very modest person. I never knew that she was Missouri teacher of the year until I read the blog. Her brief
    obituary, which ran in the Cape paper the day after her funeral, was written and published in accordance with her exacting instructions. She didn’t
    want to draw attention to herself, even in death.

    Some of your classmates referred to Inez Smith, who I knew and greatly admired. She and Alene were lifelong friends and so much alike.One of my fondest memories is of a time near the end of Alene’s life, when she was confined to her bed at home. I went and picked up Inez and brought her to Alene’s house for lunch. The two of them sat for hours and reminisced,
    mostly about all of you. I don’t think anything else could have made them happier.

    Thank you for filling my heart with memories and pride. Please feel free to share my comments with your classmates if you think they would be interested.


  22. I happened to go back to read the comments on this story tonight and had my memory jogged.

    Even though Miss Sadler and I got off to a rocky start when I disputed something she said and brought in evidence to support my position, she could also be receptive to new ideas.

    I mentioned once that I wasn’t particularly fond of science fiction, but that I had found Arthur C. Clarke’s “A Fall of Moondust” to be a good read. When she expressed an interest in it, I brought in my copy.

    A couple of days later, she stopped me on the way out of class to say she, too, had enjoyed the book.

    I appreciated that she had taken the time to read a book that was probably a stretch for her and to discuss it with me.

  23. Thank you for repeating the information about Miss Sadler. I too had her for sophomore and senior English and loved everything she taught us. She was truly an inspiration to many of us. I think all of us in the class of ’64 were excited when she was chosen as Missouri Teacher of the Year.

  24. What I remember about Miss Sadler is that she paid attention to the person behind the face. One day in class, I guess I didn’t look well. She said I looked a bit “wan.” I didn’t know the meaning of the word, so she explained it to me. To this day, whenever I use, hear, or read that word, I think of Miss Sadler. Incidentally, I grew up to be an English teacher, myself. I hope someday my former students will remember me as so many remember Miss Sadler.

  25. I stand Miss Sadler and Judy Crowe shoulder to Shoulder as the two most educated, most worthwhile, and outright most brilliant women ever to grace Cape Girardeau. Thank God that both of them were in my life!

  26. Alene Sadler was our neighbor on North Park Avenue, as Steve Limbaugh related, and almost a member of our family for three generations. She used to join us for holiday dinners, especially Easter and Thanksgiving. As a teacher of English and the Humanities, I believe she was without equal at Central. And she was a big Cardinal fan and loved going to the games. I remember taking her to St. Louis to the symphony at Powell Hall, and many other fond memories, all of them learning experiences for us.

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