Beginning in 1937, a new book had been tumbling around in Jesse Stuart’s head. It was a book about education—a hymn and personal testimony to the profession of teaching. In 1948, he finished the book, and it was published the following year.

“The Thread That Runs So True,” a classic of educational philosophy and educational history, is treasured by teachers throughout the world. It is the autobiographical story of Jesse Stuart’s first teaching experience in a dilapidated one-room school structure in Greenup County. Some of his pupils were older and bigger than he was, and discipline occasionally led to frightening confrontations, like Stuart’s famous fight with Guy Hawkins.

This book has inspired many young people to become teachers, and it has encouraged many teachers to remain in the profession. With eloquence and wit, Stuart traces his educational career, which began when he was teaching grades one through eight in a one-room school. Soon afterwards, Stuart became a principal and finally superintendent of city and county schools. The road was not smooth, however, and Stuart faced challenges from students, distrustful parents, and uncooperative administrators. Through it all, Stuart never lost his abiding faith in the power of education. Jesse Stuart’s “The Thread That Runs So True” is timeless proof that “good teaching is forever and the teacher is immortal.”

When “Thread” was first published in 1949, reviewers quickly realized the impact this book would have on teachers. For example, Dr. Jay Elmer Morgan, President of the National Education Association, called it “the best book on education written in the last fifty years.” This book began with a good sale; sales have continued each year, and it remains in print today. Its readers mailed thousands and thousands of letters of thanks and praise to Stuart. The conviction, sincerity, and energy of this book accounts for its enduring appeal in our current world of cynicism and despair.

Jesse Stuart explained, “I wrote it because in my early teaching years, I learned that the teaching profession is the greatest profession in the world since all other professions stem from it . . . I wrote this book in praise of our teachers and pupils, and our schools in America.” For Kentuckians and for rural schoolteachers throughout America, this story of a young teacher’s experience has a special meaning and value.

“The Thread That Runs So True” is not fiction as so many of its readers have believed. Teachers recognized immediately that “Thread” is a factual book, because they have had similar experiences. Many parents and general readers have never doubted its authenticity because they attended schools similar to those described in “The Thread That Runs So True.” “You might say,” said the author, “ that it is ninety-nine percent truth and, perhaps, one percent fiction; it is as authentic as apple pie, a tree, a stone, or a star.”

In 2006, the Jesse Stuart Foundation published a special hardback edition of “The Thread That Runs So True” to celebrate Jesse Stuart’s 100th birthday.

Hardback and softback copies are available at the Jesse Stuart Foundation Bookstore at 4440 13th Street in Ashland. For more information, call the JSF at 606.326.1667 or e-mail jsf@jsfbooks.com.

Who the Thread characters really were

In January 1950 Jesse read Joe Creason’s Courier-Journal piece “The Author Who Writes So True,” which emphasized the factual basis of Thread, especially his realistic handling of the depressed conditions of so many schools. Jesse thought Creason’s article was “very, very good.” Years later he would write of his book as “heartfelt” and of his “Characters in the flesh,” identifying his beaten-up sister as Sophia Stuart Keeney; the provincial genius at Warnock, Budge Waters, as Charles Rice; teacher-coach Bill Hadden as the real William Harrell; Lonnie Maxwell as longtime friend and fellow teacher Lewis McCubbin; Chad Hoskins as auditor Charles Heaberlin, father of Jesse’s close friend Elmer; Charles Manson as Superintendent Fred Maynard; Coach Charles Meyers as the future father-in-law of his daughter, Jane, Charles Juergens-meyer; sixty-nine -year old sophomore at Maxwell High Martha Binion, as McKell adult student Nina Mitchell Biggs, nine-seven at the time Jesse’s article appeared. The remedial student with fine voice at Dartmouth was Portsmouth student Robert Tucker, who became a radio commentator; and Lydia and Forrest Kingston were, of course, Lillie and Forrest King.

from JESSE: THE BIOGRAPHY OF AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
by Harold E. Richardson, page 339

By James M. Gifford
JSF CEO & Senior Editor

Beginning in 1937, a new book had been tumbling around in Jesse Stuart’s head. It was a book about education—a hymn and personal testimony to the profession of teaching. In 1948, he finished the book, and it was published the following year.

“The Thread That Runs So True,” a classic of educational philosophy and educational history, is treasured by teachers throughout the world. It is the autobiographical story of Jesse Stuart’s first teaching experience in a dilapidated one-room school structure in Greenup County. Some of his pupils were older and bigger than he was, and discipline occasionally led to frightening confrontations, like Stuart’s famous fight with Guy Hawkins.

This book has inspired many young people to become teachers, and it has encouraged many teachers to remain in the profession. With eloquence and wit, Stuart traces his educational career, which began when he was teaching grades one through eight in a one-room school. Soon afterwards, Stuart became a principal and finally superintendent of city and county schools. The road was not smooth, however, and Stuart faced challenges from students, distrustful parents, and uncooperative administrators. Through it all, Stuart never lost his abiding faith in the power of education. Jesse Stuart’s “The Thread That Runs So True” is timeless proof that “good teaching is forever and the teacher is immortal.”

When “Thread” was first published in 1949, reviewers quickly realized the impact this book would have on teachers. For example, Dr. Jay Elmer Morgan, President of the National Education Association, called it “the best book on education written in the last fifty years.” This book began with a good sale; sales have continued each year, and it remains in print today. Its readers mailed thousands and thousands of letters of thanks and praise to Stuart. The conviction, sincerity, and energy of this book accounts for its enduring appeal in our current world of cynicism and despair.

Jesse Stuart explained, “I wrote it because in my early teaching years, I learned that the teaching profession is the greatest profession in the world since all other professions stem from it . . . I wrote this book in praise of our teachers and pupils, and our schools in America.” For Kentuckians and for rural schoolteachers throughout America, this story of a young teacher’s experience has a special meaning and value.

“The Thread That Runs So True” is not fiction as so many of its readers have believed. Teachers recognized immediately that “Thread” is a factual book, because they have had similar experiences. Many parents and general readers have never doubted its authenticity because they attended schools similar to those described in “The Thread That Runs So True.” “You might say,” said the author, “ that it is ninety-nine percent truth and, perhaps, one percent fiction; it is as authentic as apple pie, a tree, a stone, or a star.”

In 2006, the Jesse Stuart Foundation published a special hardback edition of “The Thread That Runs So True” to celebrate Jesse Stuart’s 100th birthday.

Hardback and softback copies are available at the Jesse Stuart Foundation Bookstore at 4440 13th Street in Ashland. For more information, call the JSF at 606.326.1667 or e-mail jsf@jsfbooks.com.

Who the Thread characters really were

In January 1950 Jesse read Joe Creason’s Courier-Journal piece “The Author Who Writes So True,” which emphasized the factual basis of Thread, especially his realistic handling of the depressed conditions of so many schools. Jesse thought Creason’s article was “very, very good.” Years later he would write of his book as “heartfelt” and of his “Characters in the flesh,” identifying his beaten-up sister as Sophia Stuart Keeney; the provincial genius at Warnock, Budge Waters, as Charles Rice; teacher-coach Bill Hadden as the real William Harrell; Lonnie Maxwell as longtime friend and fellow teacher Lewis McCubbin; Chad Hoskins as auditor Charles Heaberlin, father of Jesse’s close friend Elmer; Charles Manson as Superintendent Fred Maynard; Coach Charles Meyers as the future father-in-law of his daughter, Jane, Charles Juergens-meyer; sixty-nine -year old sophomore at Maxwell High Martha Binion, as McKell adult student Nina Mitchell Biggs, nine-seven at the time Jesse’s article appeared. The remedial student with fine voice at Dartmouth was Portsmouth student Robert Tucker, who became a radio commentator; and Lydia and Forrest Kingston were, of course, Lillie and Forrest King.

from JESSE: THE BIOGRAPHY OF AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
by Harold E. Richardson, page 339

By James M. Gifford
JSF CEO & Senior Editor

By James M. Gifford
JSF CEO & Senior Editor

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