Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles, titled “On My Mind”, in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Professor of Kinesiology Marilyn Scribner (who taught at Wheaton from 1961-2002) was featured in the Spring 2002 issue.
As the end of the school year approaches, I am increasingly aware that this year will be like no other in my career. It will be the end of 41 years of teaching and coaching in the physical education and kinesiology department at Wheaton College. Those words bring to mind a multitude of student faces along with a rush of wonderful memories. It would be a conservative estimate to say that I have taught 4,000 students in various classes during these many years. What a privilege and a joy to be a part of their lives.
My call to teach came in 1952. I had previously attended Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon, and intended to do missionary service in China. Upon my graduation, though, China was closed to missions because of a takeover by the communist regime. Contemplating my future one particular day while working as a receptionist, I stopped and asked the Lord, “Is this all there is?” He led me to consider teaching and coaching sports, which I loved. Four years later, I began to teach.
In 1961, Harve Chrouser ’34, then chair of the physical education department and athletics director at Wheaton, contacted me in my home state of Washington. He proposed that I teach at a remote little college in the Midwest. I desired to be open to the Lord’s leading but was resistant to leaving the beautiful northwest. Nevertheless, I made the trip to visit Wheaton. The campus was bare of green foliage between winter and spring break, and the people were unfamiliar (and talked funny). I returned to Washington and wrote a letter to Coach Chrouser, turning down the position. But the Lord spoke to me through Hebrews 11:8, which tells of Abraham’s obedience to Him. Truthfully, I had an intense inner struggle. And with the recognition there would be no peace without obedience, I returned to Wheaton.
Those early years were difficult for me and for the department, for I was horribly homesick, declaring each year my intention to return to my beloved Washington. I turned again to Hebrews 11:8, thinking I might find something that would release me to go home. But Hebrews 11:9 brought conviction: “By faith, he [Abraham] continued in the land.”Though it wasn’t easy, connecting to Wheaton was the best decision I ever made, second only to accepting the Lord’s saving grace. Teaching and coaching at Wheaton has been exhilarating, challenging, and demanding. Have I been the perfect professor? Hardly. Nevertheless, not a day has gone by that I haven’t felt excitement upon entering a classroom or gymnasium. For the teacher and the student, each day is a fresh opportunity to make a difference in the life of another.
People have often told me that I would know when it was the right time to retire. But that was not necessarily true. I needed the Lord’s direction, as before. While reading in Samuel, the story of David’s later years came to my attention. After years of service, David had planned to build a house for the ark of the covenant, but God informed him that his labors were to cease, that David’s son, Solomon, was to become king. Immediately, I recognized the similarities between David’s story and the question of retirement. God had been faithful again.
Professor Marilyn Scribner has been a coach and teacher at Wheaton since 1961. She graduated from Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon, in 1951, and then earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Western Washington University in Bellingham. Marilyn has written Free to Fight Back, a self- defense guide with a companion video and a bowling manual, Striking Out in Your Spare Time. She has spoken to groups on self-defense for women and has assisted local schools in initiating self-defense programs.