Elders of the Benedictines:
A Portrait and Interview Project

Sister Jane Frances Brockman, O.S.B., b. 1908

Sister Jane Frances Brockman, O.S.B.Sister Jane Frances is a member of the Benedictine community at Saint Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Q: What have been your primary duties within the order?

A: I began teaching grade school when I was eighteen. The older sisters taught the younger ones who were starting to teach. I don't think I did much harm. My main problem was that I was too nice to the kids in the beginning. I had third, fourth, and fifth graders and they were all Italians. Some of those fifth grade boys were pretty big and they got out of hand. But I learned as I went along. I remember reading in a book on tips for teachers, "Remember, don't smile until Christmas." So I started out being strict the next year and established good discipline. I grew to greatly enjoy teaching. I taught grade school for about five years and then taught seventh and eighth grades at St. Joseph's Orphanage in North Little Rock for five more years. I thoroughly enjoyed those grades as well. I was then sent to study for one year at Atchison, Kansas, and two years at St. Mary's at Notre Dame where I received my Bachelors degree in Math with a Latin minor. I was then sent to Catholic University in Washington DC, where I received a Masters degree in Math. I then returned to St. Scholsatica where we had an academy, a high school forgirls. I was appointed principal of the academy and I taught as well. I was not thirty-two years old at the time but I guess I had already had quite a bit of experience. In the late 1940s we began to discuss the possibility of admitting black girls to our academy. Arkansas law said they couldn't and our bishop would not allow us to let them enter. Some of us decided to fast one day a week until the bishop relented. He finally did but we could only allow the black girls to come for classes but not social events. In the fall of 1952 we enrolled two black girls, becoming what may have been the first integrated school in Arkansas. . .

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