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BACK TO SCHOOL: 1924-1925

By Joan Groff
MCHA Education Committee

Paging through a Bell School teacher’s record book from 1924-25, the simplicity of a one-room schoolhouse education is evident.

Sixteen male students, aged 6-12, and six female students, aged 6-11, had their data recorded in separate sections of the standard ledger, issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction. Among these 16 students, relatively few absences were recorded, despite having very few holidays. School was closed only on December 25 and 26; school reopened on Monday, December 29. As the school year ended April 29, no Easter/Spring break was given.

A teacher was obliged to note absences and tardiness as weekly achievement by grade levels. Academic study areas were added by grade promotion. Students gradually would have been taught Reading, Spelling, Arithmetic, Hygiene, Language, Geography and History. Textbooks and workbooks were issued, reused and replaced as the teacher requested in her end-of-year order.

In beautiful, steel-penned handwriting, the teacher summarized the year, noting subjects completed and pages taught. She signed her pay receipt monthly in the same record book where this receipt was endorsed by her superintendent of schools. She earned $96.31 per term/month, teaching 7 terms for the year. Another section of the weekly page shows visitors who signed in, including parents, the school superintendent and East Stroudsburg State Teachers College teachers.

Preparing for the 1925-26 school year, a requisition was made for: 10 doz. pencil tablets, 1 box blackboard crayons, 1 pack exam paper, 1 bottle ink, 1½ gross lead pencils, 1 doz. spelling blanks and 1 pkg. drawing paper. Students still go through as many pencils today!

A final report of interest is from the Department of Health. For 1½ hours, a medical doctor checked students’ vision, hearing (using the “Whisper Method”), nose, teeth, throat, hair, skin, eyelids and cornea. He advised the teacher as to proper seating of pupils, lighting and ventilation of the room and also noted the drinking water supply, the grounds and toilet provisions.

Of course, all of this was repeated in every schoolhouse location in the county, but it impressed me as being quite comprehensive and organized. The genders for teacher, superintendent and doctor would be changeable today; workbooks would not last as long, the student-teacher-parent contact may be less personal now, the class size larger and other comparisons readily made.

What a year’s educational history was revealed in just one, thin record book!

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