In Union Mills, teacher shows more is merrier Invitation: Edna Mae Wasmer invited every student and staff member at the elementary school where she teaches to a picnic at her family farm.

October 12, 1997|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

For years, fourth-grade teacher Edna Mae Wasmer has invited her classes once a year or so out to her family farm in Union Mills.

This time, she extended the invitation to all 559 children and 50 staff members at William Winchester Elementary School in Westminster for an afternoon at a spot by the creek where her family has always gathered for picnics.

"Most teachers wouldn't do that," said Jennifer Schaeffer, 9, a fourth-grader in Wasmer's class. But it doesn't seem out of character for her teacher, who often joins them on the playground to play kickball or dodgeball.

"It just kind of came into my head," Wasmer said. "I was driving to work one day and I thought, 'Geez, it would be neat to have all the kids out to the picnic area.'

"I just enjoy it," Wasmer said. "I just have a good time with the kids, and the kids are loving it."

Wasmer's family has owned the farm along Murkle Road and Big Pipe Creek for five generations. She and her two grown sons bought it from the rest of her siblings after her parents died.

One of her sons and his family live on the farm now.

"I live a stone's throw away up the street," Wasmer said.

In the 27 years that she has been teaching, Wasmer has often brought her class out to look at grasshoppers or watch the seasons change. "In the wintertime, when we have bad weather and the snow lasts, I have a perfect hill. I've had them out for sledding parties, with marshmallows and hot chocolate."

A science lesson in the curriculum is called "A bucket of mud." In it, children analyze the microscopic life, frog eggs, sediment and other items in a bucket of mud. It can be done in a classroom, but Wasmer figured Big Pipe Creek made for a more interesting setting.

Having everyone come out at once might have been overwhelming, so Wasmer arranged to have one grade out at a time for six Saturdays. Yesterday, the last group went -- kindergarten and preschool students.

The PTA pitched in to pay for hot dogs, and Wasmer arranged for parents to split up the responsibilities of bringing snacks, desserts and paper plates. Children whose last name started with A through G, for example, brought cookies.

All in all, things have gone as smoothly as one of her social studies lessons, but the picnics were strictly for fun, she said.

Children swam or waded in the creek, played ballgames and badminton and jumped rope.

Jennifer said she especially enjoyed the trampoline.

"Some of them have just been exploring," Wasmer said. "When it comes to the end of the day, they don't want to go home.

"I think for some of them it may have been a first opportunity to play in a creek like this."

For most of them, it was also a first opportunity to use an old-fashioned outhouse.

"We call it Aunt Sally," Wasmer said of the two-seat wooden shed. "It's very clean, let me tell you. [But] some of them say they'll wait until they get home."

Pub Date: 10/12/97

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