Schooling at Mother’s Knee:
Lessons in life from A to Z!
(PDF version)

 

Future teacher Audrey Bopp Hauprich poses for her college graduation portrait in 1946.By Ann Hauprich

Many in Ballston Spa, NY remember Audrey Bopp Hauprich as a dedicated educator who set high standards for the students in her classrooms at Malta Avenue Elementary School during her 20-year tenure.

What few of those young scholars or their parents knew was that before the teacher they called Mrs. Hauprich entered her classroom each morning, she had sent her own 10 children off to a variety of other academic settings.

It was nearly half a century ago that our “Cheaper By The Dozen” clan moved from a cramped Cape Cod style cottage in Latham to the rambling Victorian that remains our beloved family homestead on Church Avenue in Ballston Spa.

At the time we ranged in age from five to 19, and before we had a chance to finish unpacking our suitcases, we were being tutored in local history as well as a host of other subjects not mandated by any Board of Education.

The Hauprich family in 1977.It started out slowly enough, with my parents (who celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary in March 2016) accepting an invitation from Mom’s esteemed teaching colleagues, Helen and Al Eisenhauer, to dine with them at one of the village’s finest restaurants.

Dressed in our Sunday’s Best, we took our seats at the table set for 14 and would surely have scored better grades on the Social Studies tests that were to follow if only we’d been permitted to take notes instead of minding our manners as per our mother’s instructions. Both she and her mother, Catherine Tiernan Bopp, could easily have given lessons on such things as the importance of keeping one’s elbows off the table, but in those days, my siblings and I assumed etiquette was taught in every home.

Ann Hauprich with her mother and maternal grandmother in 1974Another incorrect assumption was that everyone’s mother and grandmother lectured on the values of compassion, courage, honesty, integrity, patience, perseverance and respect. Both my mother, who celebrated her 90th birthday in 2015, and my maternal grandmother, who passed away just before her 100th birthday in 1990, taught far more about these subjects by example than they did by lecturing – though each did her fair share of both!

Of the nine children my grandmother bore, she saw only seven survive to adulthood as two daughters died in infancy while a teenaged son perished in an auto accident. Despite these tragic losses, Catherine Tiernan Bopp chose to count her blessings and dedicated herself to enriching the lives of children in and outside of our family circle.

Not until I welcomed my own three babies into the world could I begin to fathom the anguish my grandmother had endured long before I was born and to admire the faith and fortitude that became the hallmarks of her life.

Retired school teacher Audrey Bopp Hauprich on her 90th birthday in 2015 - Photo by Dave Brown.Those same traits saw my mother through the roughest of passages – not the least of which involved returning to college around her 40th birthday to complete her Master’s degree -- before the luxury of online courses and Internet searches. Suffice to say that the standards Mrs. Hauprich was to set for her students at Malta Avenue Elementary School five decades ago were no higher than those she set for herself.

Coming home at the end of a long day in the classroom, Mom somehow found the time to take an interest in our homework assignments and extracurricular activities before settling down to watch TV beside our father with a red pen in her hand and stack of papers awaiting grading on her lap!

Some evenings Mom would take the telephone to a quiet nook so she could call the parents of students about whom she was genuinely concerned. It was during this time that I first realized that a teacher’s heart – like the heart of a mother -- is capable of growing in proportion to the number of children in her care.