Betty Mesley grew up, the youngest of eight siblings, on a farm near Bozeman, Montana. The family lived in the natural beauty of Gallatin Valley with its blue mountains and clear, cool mountain streams that could chill watermelons and turn the feet and ankles blue if waders persisted. During the Great Depression the family relocated to a smaller farm at the base of Bridger Canyon. The foothills and mountains became an enchanted playground with wild flowers to pick in springtime, mountains to climb, winter sports and always a choice of pine trees for Christmas.
Betty’s schooling began in a one-room country schoolhouse where one teacher taught the first six grades. She walked three miles with a brother and sister to attend seventh grade through high school in Bozeman. She attended Graceland College in Iowa for two years before earning a B.S. degree at Iowa State Teachers College. Two Master’s Degrees eventually followed, the first at Central Missouri State University and the second at Drake University.
Betty married and had three children who enriched her life and brought insight to her teaching. Her husband’s work took them to six states, to Canada and the District of Columbia. Betty found teaching positions in each of those locations. Her special interest in meeting the needs of children with learning problems led Betty’s career to evolve from regular classrooms to resource rooms to special education centers. Her final fifteen years before retirement were spent as educational diagnostician and consultant in a medical team approach to solving developmental problems.
The children Betty worked with became “her kids.” She searched for methods and techniques that worked for specific individuals, first elementary students, then preteens and teenagers. She believes that all children are special and precious.
Children of Courage: Profiles from My Half Century in Education