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Tschampel, Ethel Kehrberg (Teacher)


Posted By: Linda Ziemann, volunteer (email)
Date: 9/22/2015 at 15:31:29

Biography of Ethel (Kehrberg) Tschampel 1914-1999
Written by her daughter, Karen Harrington.

Ethel Kehrberg was born on the Herbert Kehrberg family farm in Plymouth Township, Plymouth County, Iowa, 1 mile east and 2 miles south of Merrill, Iowa. This farm was homesteaded by the Frank Kehrberg family. Ethel’s Grandpa Frank Kehrberg sold 1 acre of ground for $13.00 on which was built Plymouth Township No. 4. Each of Grandpa Kehrberg’s children (George, Herbert, Laura, Willie and Esther) got their education in this first building. Then a new school was built. It was in this new school that Grandpa Kehrberg’s grandchildren (Lowell, Wilma, Laurabel, Ethel, Irene, Darlene and Bud) were educated. As time went on the Le Mars Community School absorbed all near-by country schools. A son, Herbert “Bud” Kehrberg, bought the acre of ground back for $13.00.

Ethel attended the Plymouth #4 during the 1920’s. Because this school was located next-door to the family farm, the school’s teachers always boarded with the Kehrberg family. Ethel attended this rural school through the 8th grade and then went to the Merrill Public High School where she had to walk 3 miles to and from school each day. She graduated from there in 1931 at the early age of 16.

As she was too young to teach rural school (the age requirement was 18), she decided to attend summer school at Iowa State Teacher’s College, Cedar Falls, Iowa, in 1932. After that she began to teach country school in Plymouth County.

Her first school was Plymouth Township No. 3 and her salary for that year was $40.00 per month. She drove to school on Highway 7. Her car was a 1931 Chevy with a rumble seat. Nelson Brown was the director. She boarded with Everett and Mary Orr for 3 months in the winter. They lived where Mrs. Wesley Taylor lived (west of Merrill) until she moved to Le Mars. Marty and Donna Hoffman live there now.

During the summer of 1937 she attended summer school at Western Union in Le Mars. Five years later, in 1942, she graduated from Wayne State Teacher’s College, Wayne, Nebraska, with a 2-year diploma in education after attending there during the summer of 1941 and the school year of 1941-42.

From 1934 to 1941, Ethel taught at other country schools in Plymouth County. They included Henry No. 9, Garfield No. 2, Liberty No. 1 and Stanton No. 4.

In 1939 she was elected treasurer of the Rural Plymouth County Teacher’s Association. The officers paid their own way, but were able to go to the State Teachers’ Association Convention in Des Moines. They stayed in an old hotel. Christine (Petersen) McCormick, county superintendent, made the reservations.

In the years 1942-1945 she took a job teaching 1st and 2nd grades at Union Consolidated School in Union Township. When she wasn’t teaching full-time, Ethel did substitute teaching in the town of Merrill and other rural schools.

In an interview conducted in 1967 by two students, Vicki Mockler and Steven Sonnichsen, Ethel remarked that this was her 9th year at Union, having started in 1942. She told the interviewers that she “taught first and second grades, having a total of 37 pupils” and her salary “was $90.00 a month for 9 months”. She added that sewing was her hobby, but “finds little time for it”. Her family included a husband, Harold Tschampel; a daughter, Karen, and a son, Jack. Karen was a senior at Le Mars Community High School and Jack was a sophomore. The Tschampel family resided on a farm near Merrill.

In the early 1960’s, Union school joined with Remsen and became Remsen-Union. Ethel continued to teach 2nd grade from 1961 to 1972. It was during this time that she attended Westmar College. She attended during the winter of 1961 and also went to night school and summer school. After much perseverance, she graduated from Westmar in 1968 with a B.A. in Education. She continued to teach until her retirement in 1972.

Some of her memories of teaching included that of being pleased to having been invited to the class reunion of 1954. She also recounted that she had taught two generations of one family. Darrell Reiter was her pupil during her first years of teaching at Union and now his son, Steven, was in her room two years ago. She was most grateful to the school board for accepting her in time of need five years before. She wished to thank all parents for their cooperation through the years. It meant much to her to be a part of the school community.

Ethel passed away August 25, 1999.


Plymouth Biographies maintained by Linda Ziemann.
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