To the Glory of Native Land

(On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the birth of V.I. Gostinshchikova, veteran of the educational work, honorary freeman of Kirillov).


My grandmother, Valentina Ivanovna Gostinshchikova, would be 90 on June 5, 2013.

She lived an interesting life, having devoted it to teaching.

The definition of this profession in the pedagogical encyclopedia is the following: “A teacher is a high mission the destination of which is creation and self-determination of a personality, strengthening of the man in the man”. The main task of the teacher is to hand over the best ideas of the humanity to pupils, to enrich them spiritually, to teach them to think independently. It requires a lot of emotional strength, humanity and love for children. As a teacher sows, so future generations reap. It is the teacher that fosters children’s spirituality and kindness after parents.

The teacher is a necessary and popular profession all the time. Yes, the profession of the teacher is a vocation. The teacher is an artist, a painter who is fond of his activity. The teacher must be the first man so that children could get strength from him or her, could see a man worthy of respect and attention.

My grandmother was born in the Zakharyino village of the Kirillov district on June 5, 1923. She went to school in Nikolsky Torzhok, then in Volokoslavino and she left school in June 1941.

When the Great Patriotic War began, my grandmother was 18 years old. She decided to devote her life to teaching.

She entered Vologda Teachers’ Training Institute and studied at the Department of Literature and Russian as she liked to read books from childhood. In October 1941, she was sent to the Dikaya station of the Northern Railway to take part in defence work together with her fellow students. They dug antitank ditches. The students worked there till early January 1942 when Tikhvin was liberated and there was no threat any more that Vologda could be captured.

She remembered the conditions of life there forever: “We dug antitank ditches till the middle of January in the autumn rainy weather and when the temperature was 35 degrees below zero in winter. We did everything ourselves: split firewood, caught logs from under the ice”.

My grandmother graduated from the institute in 1945 and was assigned to the secondary school in Verkhovazhye. She taught literature in the senior forms - from the 8th to the 10th. She got an appointment to the Kirillov secondary school a year later and left Verkhovazhye. She taught Russian and literature during 32 years and had 22 graduating classes.

She got married in 1949. Her husband, Georgy Vasilievich Gostinshchikov, my grandfather, also devoted his life to upbringing of children. He worked as a teacher, a deputy head teacher and a director of the Children’s Home. They had two sons.

Valentina Gostinshchikova headed the literary and theatrical circle from 1947 to 1978. She prepared literary events every year. All pupils of the senior forms, teachers and parents attended them. They performed not only at school, but also in the whole district. Reports about their performances were published in the district and regional newspapers.

She gave optional literature lessons for tenth-form boys and girls since 1966 to the end of her teaching activity. When she had an opportunity, she made tours of literary places. For instance, she visited the Pushkin’s places in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), the museums in Moscow and Pskov, the grave of the poet, Mikhaylovskoye, the Nekrasov Museum, the Ostrovsky Museum in Moscow and Sochi, the Tolstoy Museum in Yasnaya Polyana, and others.

She received a lot of letters and postcards from her pupils and kept them with special love and care.

She was pleased to work at school. She told me about it: “I was so happy to see children’s eyes shine with joy or to see tears of empathy after an interesting literary evening when the whole school discussed it during several days. When I read about the inmost feelings in their compositions, about things that a teenager could tell only to a real friend; when we talked frankly at the optional lessons, when I read letters of former graduates, when we went to the Brest Fortress together with pupils and listened to the tolling of bells in Khatyn, holding our breath. I couldn’t imagine me working at any other place”.

She was awarded the badge “Outstanding Teacher of Public Education of the RSFSR” in 1967 and was named “Honoured Teacher of School of the RSFSR” in 1971.

My grandmother continued teaching, having pensioned off. She gave optional literature lessons for tenth-form boys and girls and was busy with literary regional study since 1976: she looked for writers and journalists, natives of the Kirillov district, together with her pupils. She collected photos, books, biographical information and formed files. People learnt N. Bobrov who wrote the book about Kirillov titled “In the Heart of Northern Russia”; V.V. Ivanov, A.M. Larionov, V.A. Petrunichev, and many others. Her article about the area study was published in the magazine “Literatura v shkole”, issue ¹ 1 in 1984.

My grandmother decorated the photo albums about the history of the theatrical circle in the Kirillov secondary school during 30 years, about the meeting of former pupils of the school in Volokoslavino with short descriptions, about the graduates of 1941.

Besides, Valentina Ivanovna was an author of the whole literary part of the local history almanac “Kirillov” (Part 1). She also made albums with her family tree for her descendants.

Her name was included into the Regional Book of Honour of the Best Teachers. In June 2010, she was named the honorary freeman of Kirillov.

Upon her application, Svobodny Trud Street was renamed into Bobrov Street.

We invite everybody who has got interested in the exhibition to see it in the Museum of town and district history from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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