Teacher's 'golden rule' rings true with bell tribute to education
March 12, 2007 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL) — Author: Nick Fawell
The final touch to one of downtown Naperville's Century Walk art pieces was completed Friday, as the newly revamped, ringable bell was added to the Golden Rule Days schoolhouse sculpture next to the Christian Science Reading Room.
The sculpture, built in 2000, is a steel-frame replica of a one-room schoolhouse about 25 feet high. It was created in honor of Reba Steck, a Naperville schoolteacher from the early 20th century who stressed the "golden rule" of equality in her classroom years before the Civil Rights Movement began.
"She had a principle that she lived by and taught her students and that was students should treat others the way they would want to be treated," said Brand Bobosky, president of Century Walk Corporation.
The bell was a gift to Century Walk from former North Central College President Arlo L. Schilling, who was given the bell by his father who got it from an old one-room schoolhouse in Indiana. A plaque next to the structure says the bell "symbolizes a call to educate."
But up until now, there was no way of ringing the bell.
Packer Engineering was brought in to provide a solution. Bobosky said they wanted something other than a simple hanging rope, which could be the target of vandalism.
Instead, Packer Engineering came up with an electronic timing system, which entails placing a customized ringing device inside the bell with wires running through the structure's frame into a programming device in the basement of the building next door. The device has an internal clock that's programmed to ring the bell at certain times.
With an early daylight-saving time this year, Packer Engineering employee Doug Meyer said the programming unit had to be reset when the time change occurred Sunday.
Naperville resident George Olson and his late wife, Shirley, were the designers for the structure. Olson said the "golden rule" of equality that Steck preached is what's most important for him.
"It touched me because I'm very high on the golden rule," Olson said. "I think it has more international application than we realize. In every country, in some form, they have the golden rule."
Century Walk Corporation is a public arts program that pays tribute to Naperville's history through murals, reliefs, mosaics, sculptures and other commissioned artwork placed in different locations throughout town.
"Our work is available 24/7/365, and doesn't cost a dime," Bobosky said. "It's there for visitors and citizens alike and each of the art pieces tells one or more stories."
In keeping with the one-room schoolhouse theme, the bell will ring only at 8 a.m., noon and 4 p.m. on weekdays, representing divisions in the old-time school day - the beginning of the school day, recess and the end of the school day, respectively.
"Our goal is through public art to remember significant people, places and events in Naperville's history," Bobosky said. "And this one in particular is a tribute to education."
Contact Nick Fawell at email@example.com or 630-416-5196.
John Myers of Packer Engineering puts a newly revamped bell in place on one of the latest Century Walk installations Friday in downtown Naperville. The piece is a tribute to education inspired by Reba Steck, a Naperville teacher from the early 20th century. The bell will ring three times a day on weekdays, representing divisions in the old-time school day.