For most people in Stevens County, Carol Wilcox is better known as Mayor Wilcox, former mayor of Morris. However, for some Hancock people, she is known as Mrs. Wilcox, former Hancock fourth grade teacher. Despite the title, Carol Wilcox has always led with a kind heart, strong will and caring attitude.
Carol was hired by Harold Gramm in 1959 to teach fourth grade in Hancock. Her first class included 36 fourth graders who she taught with no help, other than Ollie Crabtree running off papers.
For the next ten years, Carol enjoyed teaching in Hancock, which was her second teaching job following two years in Moorhead. Hailing from Herman, Minn., Carol was familiar with small schools and small towns so when her husband, Sid, moved back to Morris, she was pleased to get the job in Hancock.
"The '60s was a good time to teach" stated Carol. "The parents backed you all the way and appreciated what you could do for the children."
While it was a good time to teach, it was also a time when there were more rules and children were excited to learn. Teachers and students both had to adhere to a strict dress code. Teachers were required to wear dresses or pant suits for the women, shirts and ties for the men. Female students were asked to kneel on the floor and the hems of their dresses had to touch the floor in order to meet the code. The girls could not were slacks and boys attire had to be dressy and clean with no rips or holes.
Another rule that Carol struggled with was that the teachers had to go before the school board and personally ask for a raise. The only good part about this was that the board then took them all out for a meal.
Carol's fourth grade classroom was on the top floor of the old 1912 elementary building. It was the room that had a door leading onto a fire escape. The doors and windows were very drafty and it was cold in the winter. Custodian Ralph Mohr tried hard to get more heat to the room where Carol often sat on the radiators to get warm.
She remembers that holidays were a special time for the students. There was a party for Halloween, Christmas and Valentine's Day with students bringing treats and exchanging gifts. They even had a real Christmas tree in the classroom. Carol also had a special incentive for her students promising rolls and juice on Friday morning if all got 100 percent on their spelling words.
This challenge alone brought back some wonderful memories that Carol hopes to share when she speaks at the All-School Reunion program. She will also share her genuine fondness for the school district, community and people she taught and worked with during her ten years in Hancock.
"Small schools have a lot to offer" said Carol. "The students have a good work ethic that is learned at home which goes a long way in their education."
She added that in big classes it is often the middle range of students who suffer. The top range are able to move along nearly on their own while the bottom range get more of the teacher's focus.
After leaving Hancock, Carol taught in the Morris school district and eventually retired from teaching after 34 years, every one enjoyable. She soon took on another role, spending several years as the mayor for the City of Morris. However, she continued to follow the achievements of many of her former students and the successes within the Hancock school district.
Carol added that Hancock has been fortunate to have some outstanding teachers through the years and she has felt privileged to have been able to work closely with many of them as well as the students and parents.