For her outstanding contributions as a school teacher, Nona Bell Davis is recognized on the Donors’ Wall of Fame by Joyce Davis of Emporia, Kansas.
Nona Bell Davis was not allowed to attend high school because her mother did not believe in education for girls. So when Nona completed the eighth grade she was forced to quit. At the age of 17, she walked into Houstonia, Missouri and got a job as a housekeeper and nanny, working for a family with six children.
She started high school that fall and completed in three years what took most four. Nona was editor of the newspaper, active in various clubs, and was valedictorian of her class. She borrowed money for tuition and started at Central Missouri State Teacher’s College that fall. She worked as a nanny for a lawyer and his wife who had a brand new baby. Nona completed two years of college in 1936, and began teaching in a one room school that fall. She taught until 1939, and began teaching in a one room school that fall. She taught until 1939, when she married. In 1947, she taught for another two years in a one room school. Nona’s daughter Joyce was one of the six students in that school. So, for the first two years Joyce went to school, her mother was also her teacher. In 1949, the one room school was consolidated, and Non’s family bought their own farm which moved her and her family into another district. After that, Nona Bell quit teaching again.
In 1954, Joyce came down with infectious hepatitis/yellow jaundice and had to miss half of the school year. The county Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Hay, asked Nona Bell to teach Joyce for that half of the year. He then asked her to return to teaching full time at a two room school where she taught grades one through four. When that school consolidated in 1958, she moved to a three room school where she taught first and second grades. Mr. Hay always said she was one of the two best teachers in Saline county. The other was Joyce’s aunt.
In 1959, Nona Bell’s family left the farm in Saline county and moved to Independence, Missouri. Nona Bell taught first grade in the Missouri City schools for two years and in the North Kansas City schools for two years. She retired from teaching in 1963, when her daughter Joyce completed college. Nona Bell was an excellent teacher who preferred teaching first grade. She gave many students that vital grounding in the fundamentals of reading, which has stood them all in great stead as they have completed their education and gone on to bigger and better things.
Nona Bell Davis died on May 25, 1999, but she is fondly remembered by all of her former students.