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Outagamie County (Wis.) State Centennial Committee / Land of the fox, saga of Outagamie County

Mann, John P.
"Readin', 'ritin' and 'rithmetic",   pp. 186-207 PDF (9.3 MB)

Page 188

more than I do." He asked a few ques-
tions, gave a few    problems in short
division and issued the license. "The
most important things," wrote Mr. Root,
"were school government, the three 'R's,'
and the ability to get along with chil-
  Pioneer life had its pleasures, which
the school teacher shared. There were
dances, log rollings, cabin raisings, quilt-
ings, spelling bees and singing schools.
There were Fourth of July picnics and
other gatherings at the schoolhouse.
Church services and Sunday schools were
often held in the country schoolhouses.
  Some teachers "boarded round'' at
pupils' homes. Such a teacher might re-
ceive, in addition, a cash salary of 75
cents a week. Other teachers received
about three dollars a week and paid about
a dollar and a quarter a week for board.
There were two school terms. The summer
term, attended by girls and small children,
was taught by a woman. The winter
term, for which the bigger boys joined
the school, had a man teacher.
  People were not satisfied with their
first primitive schools and efforts were
made. to improve the situation as early as
1849. In that year an institute was organ-
ized at Green Bay to consider "a uniform
system of instruction and the principle of
graduation of schools." The first state
superintendent, Eleazor (or Erastus) Root
was present and addressed the gathering.
  In that same year, Lawrence Institute
offered courses for teachers, in ''normal"
instruction and English literature which
courses were supported by the state.
  From a state superintendent's report
of 1855, we learn that in 1854, Outagamie
County had 23 districts, 1,245 pupils, with
871 attending school-''a large percentage
for a backwoods county." Men teachers
received an average of $19.81 per month;
women an average of $10.94. State school
aid, for which at least five months' school
was required, amounted to $410.85 for
the whole county. The total amount paid
in teachers' wages was $1,432.87 and the
total value of all school buildings was less
than $300.
  The number of schools increased steadily
and more attention was given to the train-
ing of teachers. In 1859, at an institute in
Appleton, teachers studied the educational
system. In the same year a school library
law was passed but the towns made little
effort to start libraries.
  By 1862 the position of county super-
intendent had been established. In this
year the superintendent reported that the
county had 64 districts, 20 log buildings,
37 frame schoolhouses and one of brick.
The value of the buildings ranged from
$10 to $5,000. Outside Appleton, there
were over 3,000 children of school age
and 35 teachers but there were less than
300 books in all the school libraries.
Teachers were still licensed by the towns.
Many young men resigned to go to the
army and their places were filled by wom-
en "without serious injury," according to
the superintendent's report.
  Throughout the state, there was con-
siderable friction between town and coun-
ty superintendents, because of overlapping
responsibility. In 1862 the town super-
intendencies were abolished and the cer-
tificates they had issued were annulled.
  After the Civil War came rapid growth
in population and great industrial expan-
sion. Higher standards of living gave im-
petus to demands for improvements in the
schools. Teachers began to look upon their
work as a profession. Teachers were cer-
tified by the county and were better quali-
fied. The county superintendent visited
all schools at least once a year to help
teachers and to maintain a more uniform
curriculum. In those early years he used
a horse and buggy and even walked many
miles to visit the schools.
  One outcome of professional conscious-
ness was the organization in 1867 of the
County Teacher's Association at Horton-
ville. The first pioneer period had passed
by this time. The initiative in the in-
troduction of new elements of the curricu-
lum, new equipment and provisions re-
garding attendance began to come from

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