The school spirit of Adams county, so far as related to the teachers and patrons of the public schools, has been excellent. The attendance at the annual meetings has increased, the improvements in school furniture, repair and refurnishing buildings have been greater than usual. Each year new buildings are constructed, old buildings are refurnished, a more liberal supply of text and library books are added.
Practically all the teachers of the county have been doing the reading circle work as outlined by the State Reading Circle Board. The plan of holding sectional meetings has been followed with success. The attendance and interest shown by teachers in county associations has been must excellent.
An effort to increase the efficiency and also the compensation of teachers has received emphasis during the past decade. In the year 1902 wages were as low as $25 per month. The county superintendent then in office refused to certificate a teacher who would teach for less than $30 per month. The effort has produced results. Today no school pays less than $40 and very few less than $45.
The consolidation of rural schools has been agitated for several years, but has thus far failed to result in the centralization of rural districts. People do not seem to be ready for it. Physical features are favorable for centralization in most parts of the county. The roads are good and for the most part the county is level. The seed sown now will no doubt bear fruit in the future.
Formerly the Illinois course of study was used. When the new state course was adopted and printed it was introduced into the schools of the county. Teachers have received instructions at institute as to its use and misuse. Questions based on the course have been furnished teachers at stated times. These have aided materially up grading the schools of the county.
Cooking and sewing have received some attention during the past two years. Also work in agriculture. The boys have received instruction in the selection of seed corn, the planting and care of the same. Contests have been held at which prizes have been offered for the best products. These have been incentives to increase the in-would otherwise leave for the city.
A special campaign is to be made in the county for better work
in the fundamentals in our public school curriculum. Reading, Arithmetic, Mental Arithmetic, Writing, Spelling and English Language will receive the emphasis for the next few years.
The number of pupils who take and pass the county eighth grade examination is on the increase each year. At least eighty per cent of those who complete the examination take advantage of the free high school law. The law itself is working very satisfactorily. Very few public school patrons and taxpayers are opposed to the law.
Every inducement possible will be made to the boys and the girls on the farm to prepare themselves for teaching. The cry in Nebraska ought to be 'Country Bred Teachers for Our Rural Schools."
Antelope County has 108 whole districts and six joint districts. It requires 148 teachers to supply all schools. The scheel (sic) census for 1910 is 4,839. We have six graded schools, two of which have 12 grades, two have 11 grades, one has 10 grades and one has 9 grades. We have one high school giving normal training, having at this time graduated two classes. The class of 1909 was composed of 12 members and of 1910, 14 members. The instruction given normal training classes has been of a high grade and has been the means of these graduates being well prepared to take up the important work of teaching. In general they make good teachers.
It has been frequently remarked by visitors and the older teachers of the county that our county teachers institutes have been among the best. The teachers in general respond readily to the work of the institute and show a true professional spirit and interest in these gatherings. Instructors commend them for their marked attention in classes and the readiness to act on suggestion arid to do all they can for the furthering of their own interests and the interests of the schools in their charge.
Much interest is taken in the county every spring in the eighth grade examinations. These examinations are given at every town in the county giving opportunity for every eighth grader to write the examination. The county superintendent marks all papers, awards and tabulates all grades and makes all reports. The results of the working of the free high school attendance law are very gratifying. Many young people are getting a high school education at the expense of their home district. The law is not a popular one with rural school boards, but less criticism seems to be made now than formerly. We predict that in a few years nearly every one will be well satisfied with the law.
Many districts are very slow to comply with the library law and the state apportionment for several districts is withheld because of
non-compliance with law. We expect and hope that before long every district will have complied with the law.
We have made no attempt in the county to organize boys and girls clubs and give special attention to agriculture and domestic science and provide local contests in the same. With the amount of supervision, school visitation in a county the size of this, clerical work etc., it seemed to be unwise to attempt the additional work occasioned by such organization, as poor, inefficient progress in such work is worse than no work. We have been working for a gradual and constant growth in our educational system. We have been urging better qualifications of teachers because with the teacher rests the success or failure of a school generally. We have worked for better and closer gradation and classification of our rural schools. Our efforts have not been fruitless.
The reading circle work as selected by the reading circle board has been carried in the county without alteration. For the past few years the work has been written work to be sent to the county superintendent for his inspection. We have not found the reading circle meetings a success and only by request of teachers in the same school are any held. Frequently in these we find that the work has been covered only superficially. Formerly questions were printed with the mimeograph and a copy sent to each teacher at stated times, and last year the reading circle note book was used very satisfactorily and will be used this year. Many teachers have advanced from a plain certificate to a with credit or from a with credit to a with honor certificate by means of the credits earned in this work,, to say nothing of the professional advancement made by such reading and a good beginning, with several volumes of a professional library.
The matter of a county high school has been talked of, but nothing definite has yet been done. Consolidation has not been attempted.
A new four-room school building has just been completed at the little town of Brunswick, which will afford ample school room for some years. Districts number 17 and 102 are building new rural school houses this year. Neligh expects a ward building in the course of a few months. Clearwater and Oakdale both expect to build new school buildings next year. Orchard is again beginning to feel the need of additional room. Elgin has a comparatively new brick building of six rooms, to which two more can easily be added, but the present rooms seem adequate for present needs.
We are pressing on with a steady and determined pace in the hopes for better and greater things for the county educationally.
The Boone county high schools, having normal training courses,: are supplying the country schools with a higher grade of teachers. The
country boys and girls are receiving the direct benefit of this excellent law, as the normal trained teacher gives them in turn what she has received from high school teachers and superintendents of training and long experience. Her school gives evidence of this preparation. There will be sixteen of these normal trained high school graduates teaching in the country schools of Boone county this year, while some will take positions in the graded schools of other counties.
Of eighty-six school districts in Boone county, eighty-two have complied with the library law for the years 1909 and 1910. Of the remaining four, three have complied for 1909, one has not complied for either year.
The books which have been placed in many of the libraries are those recommended by the Nebraska State Reading Circle Board. These books have received the hearty approval of the school officers who at first objected to the law. In other words, it was not so much the law to which they objected as to poor literature.
For the year 1909 and 1910 all Boone county teachers desiring reading circle credits were required to hand in reading circle note books, that they might receive the benefit and the credits for doing the work.
For the reading circle work of 1910 and 1911 a booklet has been prepared. One will be given to each teacher. It gives the time and place of each meeting to be held during the year, the work to be covered each month, the local managers, requirements for reissuance of certificates, etc. Much is expected by having a definite plan for carrying out the work.
The Boone County Teachers' Association, which was held at Albion, Nebraska, April 8th and 9th, was well attended by teachers and citizens of Boone county. These appearing on the program were Dean C. A. Fulmer of University Place, Deputy F. S. Perdue of Lincoln, Dr. W. A. Clark of Kearney and Prof. A. MacMurray of Ames, Iowa. The meeting proved to be an inspiration to many country teachers who find it impossible to attend farther from home. In most cases the school boards gave the teachers their time that they might receive the benefit of the meeting. Even those that were called on to make up the time felt that they had been repaid many times for the sacrifice.
Of the eighth grade pupils in Boone county who took the state eighth grade examination, fifty-eight received diplomas. Of this number forty had taken the eighth grade work in the graded schools of Boone county. There were twenty-eight country pupils to receive the diplomas. Twenty-five of these have made application for free high school tuition.
Fifty-six country pupils received high school training last year under the free high school law. Seventy have made application for free higs (sic) cchool (sic) tuition for next year. The decided gain over last year is the result of the growing popularity of the law, and the effort put forth to secure its benefits.
Some phases of work on which special attention will be laid are the preparation of pupils for the high school and eighth grade examination, reading circle work, use of the course of study in the county schools, better attendance at schools of children between the ages of seven and fifteen, better sanitary conditions in the schools, and attention to heating, lighting and ventilating of the school room.
As Banner county is rather sparsely populated, the schools small, and many other hindrances to school work, we cannot make as good a showing as some other parts of the state. We are, however, trying to arouse a general interest in educational matters and hope for improvement in the schools of the county. The County Teachers' Association was organized April 9, 1910, but the officers were not elected until the next meeting which occurred June 4. The by-laws adopted provide that the County Superintendent shall be President and Miss Cecil Ogg was elected Secretary and Mrs. M. C. Douglas, Treasurer. Both meetings were quite well attended and interesting. We hope to meet at least once every two months next year.
A few of our teachers reported the Reading Circle work completed this year. Quite a number purchased the books but failed to report the work done. We are planning to organize the Reading Circles all over the county next year, and have the county meeting in connection with the Teacher's Association every two months.
Several districts in the county purchased new libraries during the past winter. All the districts which have reported to date have complied with the library law, and this will probably be true all over the county.
The course of study is in use in all the schools of the county and is a great help to both teachers and pupils.
The boys and girls of Banner county began the work of the Home Experiment department and most of them are much interested in the club work. A few have dropped out, not because they wished to, but because circumstances were such that they could not keep up the work. The club held a social meeting June 25, which was much enjoyed, The next meeting will be July 30, and the members will give a literary program.
Several tracts of unorganized territory were annexed to adjoining districts, in compliance with the new law. Some old districts which had not maintained school for many years were also added to nearby districts.
Banner county has a class of four to receive eighth grade diplomas this year. We are planning commencement exercises, early in August. Pupils and patrons are becoming interested in this work and we expect a larger class next year.
There will be at least three new school houses built this year. while others will be painted and otherwise improved.
Next year a special effort will be made to grade the schools or at least secure more uniformity of work in the rural schools. Teachers will be required to follow the course of study more closely, plan their work so that results will be apparent to pupils and parents. Heretofore it has not been the custom to have the daily program where it could be soon by all, but we hope to make this t ho rule in the future. We shall also try to enforce the compulsory education law.
For the last two years Alliance city teachers and rural teachers of Box Butte county have attended the North Platte Valley Association. The Reading Circle work is to be carried on in two divisions; those in the north part of the county meet with Prin. Wrightsman at Hemingford; the south half with Alliance city teachers at the A. H. S. building. Every teacher in the county is planning on taking the work this year.
The rural schools are getting some good libraries started. Every district seems willing to comply with Library Law when asked.
The normal training seems to me to be one of the very best things we could have in providing effectual rural teachers. I have five that took the work last year and are the most enthusiastic teachers now in the work.
A Boys' and Girls' club was organized two years ago. They had a fine contest April 16 at Alliance at which contest Prof. Nelson gave an address.
Work was also sent to the county fair. Four good prizes were given, first in graded schols (sic) to Alliance $25.00; second to Hemingford, $15.00. First in Rural School District No. 13 $25.00; money to be used for library. Second to District No. 45, $15.00.
A great interest is being taken in eighth grade work. A number of rural districts that do not have nine months school are paying tuition for free High School.
Boyd county was organized August 1891, by proclamation of Gov. John M. Thayer. Frank Morse, Howard Ware and Ira L. Dudley were appointed as the first special county commissioners and John C. Santee county clerk. Mrs. Emma A. Warner, who is still residing in Butte, was appointed as the first county superintendent and was also elected to this office November 1891.
The first school district in Boyd county, No. 1, was organized Nov. 9, 1891. The county has now 75 districts and 72 school-houses of which two are brick, one cement and the remainder frame. Many of the first school houses were built of prairie sod or rude logs.
Bristow's first school house was a sod building erected in 1892. In this building no desks were seen, no dictionary, and very few books. Snakes and vermin were more in evidence here than books and furniture. In 1896 the sod building was condemned as unsafe for physical as well as mental and intellectual development and the district soon enjoyed the comfort and luxury of a little log school house. This log school house was also the center of the religious life of the community, church and Sunday school, and it was considered a great improvement over the old sod building, and so it was. But this too outlived its usefulness.
Spencer has been for three years the only twelve grade and Normal Training school in Boyd county, but Butte has now under construction a new brick building and has added a twelfth grade and a Normal Training course which has a good enrollment. Lynch has a 3-year High School course and Bristow, Monowi and Naper 2-year High School courses and Anoka and Gross one year respectively.
There is only one, two-room country school house in this county and no consolidated districts where transportation is regularly furnished by the district. Some of the weaker districts have been consolidated and several more should follow suit. Nine districts received special "State Aid" in 1909.
The teachers at the Institute discuss not only pedagogy and other abstract subjects but grapple with the concrete--with agriculture as a science, with domestic science, manual training and the realities of life. Our school exhibit last year was held in conjunction with the County Fair and about 30 teachers and nearly 400 pupils were present on "School Day" to view the exhibits and to listen to addresses by Gov. Shallenberger, Deputy State Supt. Perdue and Prof. A. V. Storm of the Iowa Agricultural College. This year we also have a 'School Day" at the fair, viz. October 7, and the premiums offered for industrial school work will aggregate $100. Prof. Val Keyser and Miss Louise Sabin will address the teachers and pupils on practical and vital subjects. Over 100 boys and girls are enrolled in the Nebraska "Boys' and Girls' Club."
The teachers meetings have been well attended and stimulating. Among others, Chancellor Avery and Hon. C. H. Aldrich have addressed the teachers during the past year. The teachers are on the march-forward and upward. More than one-half of the total number have received training at normal and summer schools.
Externally the crying and conspicuous needs in this county are,
for better school grounds, more trees, shrubs and flowers, and a more sanitary system of ventilation and heat.
Buffalo county is fortunate la having within its borders the state normal at Kearney, as well as a number of excellent high schools. Two of the these high schools, Ravenna and Shelton, maintain normal training courses and their graduates are among our best rural teachers.
Almost every teacher in this county has had some normal training and their work is growing better each year. Parents and taxpayers are interested in the schools and the tendency in this county is toward higher wages and longer terms of school.
Within the past two years new high school buildings have been built at Gibbon and Ravena and bonds voted for one at Shelton. Perhaps the greatest credit is due rural district number eleven. The new school house in this district has a furnace, pressure tank, and separate toilet rooms in the basement. The main floor has a large library and teacher's room adjoining the well lighted school room. In the large hall are the two stairways leading to the basement, cloak racks, and drinking fountains. The total cost of this building is about three thousand five hundred dollars.
The teachers of this county are willing to do home reading along professional lines, but do not favor the old-time plan of grouping for reading circle work. Special attention is being given to the subjects of drawing and mental arithmetic. Drawing was taught in the institute this year by Prof. D. R. Augsburg who had excellent success in arousing the teachers to the possibilities of this subject.
Our rural schools do not favor consolidation at this time. The plan of rural high school districts meets with favor and I believe the next few years will see a number of such districts.
(a) There is no regularly organized association of officers but the county superintendent meets all the directors after the annual meeting to receive their reports and to talk over things of interest to the schools.
(b) On January 29, we had a very enthusiastic association at Lyons. In the morning *Miss Eda C. Nelson conducted a review of the Reading Circle Work. This proved very helpful and inspired us all with the desire to do better and more effective work la our respective schools.
In the afternoon Superintendent Davidson of Omaha lectured on "Hygiene and Our Public Schools." His address was very practical
and contained suggestions that can be used in every school in the county. He emphasized especially the need of better ventilation and more sanitary "water pails."
There was an exhibit of work from the rural schools which proved very interesting and helpful to all.
A large percent of the teachers attended the Emerson meeting in October, the Fremont meeting in April and the State Association in November. The District Boards gave the teachers the time to attend the same as the City Boards do.
Miss Nelson was a firm believer in the inspiration gained by attending these meetings and her enthusiasm gave all her teachers the desire to go.
A number of teachers from both graded and rural schools did the Reading Circle Work. The reports on this are very encouraging and show that the teachers are willing and anxious to do work that helps them to teach and train the boys and girls.
School libraries are growing rapidly. The directors seem anxious to get the books when they know they ore getting the right kind. With the help of the slate department and the library commission a good class of books is being put into our school libraries.
I have not heard of any needed in this county.
We have been pleased with the normal training students who have gone into the rural schools. They have all made good, strong teachers.
From the monthly reports of the teachers it seems that the Course of Study has been used in all the schools with good results. The Daily Program has been mentioned on many reports as being very helpful.
Special Days have been observed in many schools with suitable exercises. Some have held "Parents' Day" programs and have been much encouraged by the presence of the fathers and mothers.
The District Boards are asking for well qualified teachers and this will help keep up the standard. Miss Nelson worked very hard to keep well qualified teachers in the schools and we hope to continue the work she has begun.
In April we organized the boys' and girls' clubs with an enrollment of about two hundred. The work here was begun by Mr. Brookings, and splendidly carried on by Miss Nelson who succeeded in interesting many schools and individual pupils in cooking, school gardening as well as home work.
More that 50 per cent of the eighth grade pupils who passed the examination have applied for free high school tuition and are preparing to enter high school in the fall. We have had seventy-eight
*Miss Eda C. Nelson was serving her second term as county superintendent at the time of her death during the spring of 1910. She was succeeded by Nettie. C. Nelson.
pupils from the rural districts in the high schools of our county this past year.
From the files in the office it is evident that all the delinquent parents do not live in the large cities. There have been some cases where the law has been effective.
Wherever new buildings are being put up the officers are anxious to get the most modern as well as the best equipped school house possible. More attention is paid to ventilation, heating and lighting than formerly. One director said, "Nothing is too good for our boys and girls."
My predecessors have laid especial stress upon agriculture and domestic science and the results are very good. The boys and girls seem anxious to learn and the interest they have shown in this work has helped them in their regular school work.
Having been in the work so short a time, it seems presuming to say what I want to do. I am going to try to keep up the interest in the things Miss Eda Nelson worked so hard to get. Then I wish to emphasize the work in mental arithmetic, spelling and writing. I hope to be of help to the teachers and pupils of our county.
For the school year ending the second Monday of July 1909, there were enrolled in the public schools of Butler county 3735 pupils. Of these 3735 pupils 1925 were enrolled in the village and city schools employing two or more teachers. Of these 1925, pupils, 1512 or 78 out of every 100, attended school regularly for a period of not less than 9 months or 180 days. These same pupils were instructed by 63 teachers, of whom 28 held life professional certificates; and the rest elementary certficates; 8 first grade county certificates; and the rest (16) county second grade certificates. Practically all of these teachers had some previous experience; a number of them were University graduates, almost a half, Normal School graduates; and most of the remainder had some normal training. These teachers did their work under the direct daily supervision of two city superintendents, ten village principals, and two high school principals. The total cost of supervising these trained, experienced teachers exceeded $5,000 for that year.
For the same school year there were enrolled in the rural one-room schools of the county 1810 pupils. Of these 1810 pupils only 1143 or 62 out of every 100 attended school anything like regularly for a period not exceeding eight months or 160 days. These pupils in the rural districts were instructed by 81 teachers, of whom only three had life professional certificates. Only a few had been in the profession any length of time end not very many had any extended normal training. At least one-third of them were wholly inexperienced
and one-fifth were teaching the same school that they taught the year before.
The only person to supervise the work of these widely scattered, inexperienced and untrained teachers was the over-burdened county superintendent who at the same time acted as inspector of the approved high schools, saw to it that mountains of clerical work were dispatched, adjusted differences between the various school forces, decided all legal questions of administration of schools, saw to it that the various laws were complied with, and for all this work and much more the county superintendent was paid by the county the magnificent sum of $1200 a year and had the pleasure of paying the expense of inspection and visitation.
It is true, of course, that the same conditions that confront us are likewise found in other counties of the state. The crying need of our county is to make the office of county superintendent more efficient. Conditions are improving but they are not commensurate with the demands of the times.
The Butler County School Boards Association of which Mr. John Glock of Millerton has been the president since its organization several years ago has done some good work. The meetings are well attended and the resolutions which have been adopted at our last meeting made it possible for one-half of the teachers to attend the Butler County Educational Convention on full pay.
The Butler County Educational Convention is an association of Butler County Teachers and I doubt if it has its equal in the state. The meetings are generally held in March and this spring out of 146 teachers employed in the county all but six were in attendance and half of these had good valid excuses. The attendance at the evening program exceeded 500 people and this shows the educational spirit of David City. This convention takes with us the place of the spring association at Fremont. Over 80 Butler county teachers were enrolled at the State Teachers' Association last year. The professional spirit of the Butler county teachers is commendable and the school boards seem to realize it as there is a material advance in salaries all over the county, especially in the rural schools.
The Reading Circle Work has always been a success in Butler county and this year is no exception. Most of the teachers pursued the work as outlined.
Nearly all of the districts have complied with the letter of the law as regards school libraries. There was some opposition at first but it quickly subsided when they realized what the alternative was in not complying with its dictates.
Normal Training in the High Schools has been a boon to Butler county school's. Its beneficial results can be seen in every school room. Perhaps most of the credit is due Supt. Julian whose knowledge of rural schools made it possible to prepare the students under his supervision for effective work.
The Course of Study is steadily growing in favor with the teachers and good results are preceptible. Definite daily programs are followed in most of the schools.
Consolidation is slow and while there is a growing sentiment in favor of it we clearly realize that it is not a panacea for our present ills. We have held meetings at various places in the county and as all those who have had any experience along this line know have encountered a good deal of hot opposition and there is no immediate danger that this system will become universal in our county during this generation. We are doing all we can to create a sentiment in favor of it and have high hopes that at least at Millerton where the conditions are ideal we may be able to make a start.
Two new school houses are being erected this summer and several districts are placing in Smith's System of Heating.
Slowly new methods are being introduced to minimize the clerical work of the office so that more of the superintendent's time will be available for personal supervision. A record of all the text-books in use in the county is compiled at the office and at a minute's notice the superintendent is able to inform directors what text-books they have and what they should get. Likewise close supervision is exercised over all the library books as there was a universal cry from the start that they were not properly cared for.
On the whole the conditions in Butler county are favorable for educational growth. The public in general is more disposed to consider school matters seriously and to appreciate the good work the teachers, are trying to do. Teachers more generally are considering their calling a profession and realizing more keenly the responsibility that rests with them. We think we understand our situation and are doing all we can to better conditions.
The teachers of Cass county have been especially good in attendance at teachers' institutes, state, district and county associations. In our institute for 1910 there were 141 teachers enrolled and the number of teachers under county supervision is 139. It has been our custom to hold two county associations during the year and the average attendance at those meetings for the past three years has been more than one hundred.
The Reading Circle work is conducted in twelve sections. The local management is in charge of the principals of the school in the towns of the county. The general management is in charge of the county superintendent.
During the past year three-fourths of the districts spent the required amount in the purchase of library books for the schools. Many
districts have spent more than was required. The teachers have added to the library fund by giving entertainments.
I have been especially well pleased with the work done by the normal training pupils of our high schools. Some of my very best teachers are among those who have taken the normal training in the high school. They have less trouble in meeting the requirements for teachers' certificate than other applicants. They usually feel the need of additional preparation and many of them take work in summer school.
The Nebraska state course of study is universally used in the county and has been of great benefit to our schools. We have used the quarterly test questions based upon the course of study and have thus been enabled to secure better work on the part of both teachers and pupils.
Last April we organized boys' and girls' agricultural clubs, and have in all one hundred and thirty-three members. This year we expect to bold county contests and the commercial clubs in some of the towns in the county have consented to furnish the prizes.
We have no consolidated districts and only one district this year in which there is no school. That district has contracted with an adjoining district for the instruction of its pupils.
We always have held two county eighth grade examinations. Usually about sixty per cent of the applicants pass. There were one hundred and forty-five applicants for free high school tuition for the year 1910-11.
During the past year fifteen of our schools have installed either the Waterbury or the Smith system of heating and ventilating. We have had no new buildings in the past three years, but many of the old buildings have been repaired and re-painted or papered as the case might be. Most of our buildings are well equipped with maps and text books. Only three out of the one hundred districts require the pupils to furnish their own text books.
I am laying special stress upon better equipped school rooms, more sanitary conditions of the school room and play grounds and upon industrial education in so far as it can be carried out in our rural schools.
Owing to poor railroad facilities but few county teachers' associations have been held in this county the past few years. It is an impossibility to get all the teachers together in the county on Saturday as those coming to Hartington from the south part of the county would be obliged to stay here till Monday. Owing to this fact the county association has been dispensed with. Our teachers are very loyal to the Northeast Nebraska association at Emerson in October, nearly all attending, and again in the spring at the North Nebraska
association at Norfolk practically all teachers attend and take part in discussions. Perhaps twenty-five per cent of the teachers of the county attended the state association at Lincoln.
Nearly all teachers of rural schools do the Reading Circle work and seem to be benefited by it and take pleasure in doing it. All districts during the past year complied with the library law, and its effect on the schools throughout the county is very noticeable. Children are more eager to go to school now than they were in the past. We haw no districts in this county needing aid from the state. We are pleased to say that the normal training in high schools has helped us materially in providing well qualified teachers for rural schools. This year we have about 20 teachers who have graduated from the formal training department of the high school of the county. Let the good work go on. We are using the course of study, but are far from pleased with it. It is not complete and is very inconsistent.
Never in the history of the county have we had so well a qualified a corps of teachers as at present, thanks to the new certificate law. No districts have been consolidated in this county, but we hope the day is not far distant when consolidated districts will be the rule. During the past year 175 pupils took the eighth grade examination, and out of this number 73 passed and were granted diplomas.
We have tried to enforce the compulsory education law, but find that to be a difficult proposition. The law needs to be amended so as to make it more effectual.
During the past year we have builded in the county five new modern school buildings and at the present time there are being placed in rural school buildings four new heating and ventilating plants of modern style. Taking everything into consideration we think we are making rapid progress considering all, the difficulties we have to surmount.
W. E. MILLER .
The question, "How Can We Hold a Sufficient Amount of School to Educate Our Children in the Most Essential Subjects on the Available Funds?" This was the question confronting almost every district in Chase county a few years ago. As a result of the hard times the valuations on land were low and to a large extent taxes were delinquent. At that time many districts were thrown in debt. Many are still laboring under that burden. In 1907 when the tension became greatest state aid came to the rescue. The first year it was provided about half of the districts of the county shared in the apportionment. Later, after the readjustment of real estate valuations, the number dropped almost one half. At present about one-fourth of the districts apply for aid. It has proved a great help to Chase county and will be needed for several years in some districts,
Little can be done for improvement in districts hampered by lack of funds and by heavy debts. We have watched carefully the financial
conditions of the school districts and have lost no opportunity in giving suggestions and aiding school officers to clear up some of the indebtedness each year. They have responded readily to any advice given. Our aim is to keep the year's school expenses enough less than the income to be able to pay off one-fifth of the indebtedness each year. Some have not found it possible to do so much. As a result many of the districts are almost out of debt and will soon be in a position to improve grounds and buildings and add some of the long needed apparatus and other equipment to the schools. Nothing has been done in any special line, but the aim has been to work as far as possible with the individual school and make the work with it along the line of greatest need.
Several attempts have been made to introduce the boys' and girls' club work into the county. In some schools it has been very successfully handled. Our sparsely settled country and long distances to central points have been a hindrance to the organization of the county club. We hope that the work now done in encouraging the boys and girls in taking up industrial work may be a foundation on which others in the future under more favorable circumstances may build a system of organized work in industrial arts which may lead the boys and girls to see the value and find the interest in the common things of life.
Some serious problems come up with our attempt to adopt the course of study. A large number of our teachers are young and inexperienced, and with but little training. They do not understand how to use it and do not use it successfully without much supervision. Many of the text books found in the schools cannot be used with it. Under the present arrangement of the course covering nine months' work in a year and our schools holding but an average of five months each year, we find at the beginning of each year much confusion in placing classes where they should be. Some of our most experienced teachers, by much perseverance, are surmounting the difficulties where they continue several years in the same school, but by the majority they are not conquered.
Most of the reading circle work of the county is done individually by the teachers. The rural districts are so large that the schools are too far apart to organize circles in other places than Imperial and Wauneta. Rural teachers are encouraged to attend these, circles at any time they find it possible to be in town, although they may not be members of the circles.
Cheyenne county has a teachers' association which holds four meetings during the school year. The teachers attend at least two of these, preferably those nearest their district. All report much benefit and pleasure from the attendance.
The reading circle work is carried on entirely by note books, as it is hardly possible to hold meetings, because of difficulty in getting to the central points.
Nearly all the rural districts have school libraries containing the best literature for school children.
Our county last year received $1,070 state aid. Because of this, twelve districts were helped to longer terms of school than it was possible to have before the passage of the state aid law.
The normal training course in the Sidney high school gave us several very successful rural teachers during the past year. We heartily endorse normal training high schools.
The boys' and girls' clubs are in successful operation. Work is being carried on by the members and we hope for a very spirited contest in the autumn.
We have had sixty-one graduates from the Eighth grade during the last two years. Many of these young folks have entered high school, some at the expense of the home district.
A few of the rural teachers hold first grade certificates, but most of them hold second grade. Our high school teachers all meet the requirements in certification.
We have been holding a county spelling contest and find it of especial benefit to the children. Great interest is manifested by the patrons and we hope to continue this during the coming year.
School Officers' Association--There has been an organization of the school officers of the county for some years. The annual meeting is held in the spring of each year. In years gone by it has been the custom to have prominent school officers of the county to discuss live school topics at these meetings. At the annual meeting of 1909 it was voted to ask each district to pay $1 into the association for the purpose of securing a speaker for the next meeting. Twenty-four districts responded to this call and Deputy State Superintendent Perdue conducted a round table at the 1910 meeting upon questions that had been previously submitted by the school officers of the county. At this meeting it was again voted to ask the districts to continue the plan of 1909. Districts are already responding and it is hoped the plan of bringing outside speakers will continue to prove as beneficial to the association as was the round table conducted by Mr. Perdue. The average attendance at these meetings has been about thirty-five. The interest taken by those present has been most excellent.
Teachers' Meetings--The teachers of the county have four district meetings each year and one general county meeting. One district meeting is held in each of the following towns: Sutton, Harvard, Fair-
field and Edgar. Teachers in the vicinity of these towns attend and the programs usually follow topics suggested by the reading circle course. In the spring of each year the general meeting is held at Clay Center and a speaker from outside makes the principal address. Dr. Condra, Chancellor Avery and Superintendent N. M. Graham have been the speakers selected during the past two years.
In 1908 nearly 80 per cent of the teachers of the county attended the state association at Lincoln and almost the entire number attended on full pay. Owing to the recent feeling of school officers against dismissing school for state associations the attendance was not quite so large in 1909. The Central Nebraska Association has not been well attended by Clay county teachers during the past two years. This has been due to the great stress laid upon state associations and the proximity to Lincoln.
Reading Circle Work--More than two-thirds of the entire teaching force of the county have been actively engaged in reading circle work during the past biennium. A number of live circles have been maintained throughout the county and those who cannot pursue the work in circles do it alone. One of the largest and most enthusiastic circles of the county was that maintained in Fairfield in 1909-10. These teachers met on Saturday afternoon and had an average attendance of some ten or twelve rural teachers aside from the town teachers. The discussions were live and oftentimes the programs were varied by musical numbers.
Certificates--Teachers are urged to attain a high grade certificate. It has been the policy to refuse emergency and third grade certificates so long as better qualified teachers could be found.
State Course of Study--The Nebraska state course of study was placed in the hands of all teachers at the 1909 institute. At this institute some time was given to a discussion of the course of study. The review questions which were sent from the office each quarter proved an incentive toward arousing teachers to use the course of study.
Special Days--Special day programs have been put in all schools. A circular letter was sent to all teachers on the eve of the Lincoln centenary, urging that special observance be given the day. Patrons' days are encouraged and when possible it is the policy to attend special day exercises.
School Libraries--Every district in the county had complied with the library law July 1, 1910. Districts are urged to select books recommended by the State Reading Circle Board and the state librarian. A number of excellent libraries are found in rural schools.
Normal Training--Harvard and Fairfield maintain normal training courses in their high schools. The rural teachers that have gone out from these schools have, with a few exceptions, proved more effectual teachers than those from schools where no normal training course has been maintained.
Consolidation--One consolidation meeting was held within the biennium. This was at Trumhull. E. C. Bishop, L. R. Willis and Edith A. Lathrop were present at the meeting. Over two hundred citizens from the town and surrounding country were present. While no direct step was taken for consolidation at the meeting the general result was an awakening along advanced educational lines.
Eighth Grade Examinations--Two eighth grade examinations are held each year in the various towns of the county. The papers are corrected by a committee appointed by the county superintendent and the expenses of grading are paid by the county. The eighth grade graduating classes number over one hundred. This is due to the fact that eighth graders from all the towns except one take the county examination with the rural pupils. The promotion exercises are held at Clay Center early in June. Dr. Turner of Hastings college, Prof. J. W. Searson and Inspector G. A. Gregory have been the speakers during the last three years. The attendance of both pupils and patrons at these exercises has been good. About seventy-five rural pupils took, advantage of the free high school law during the year 1909-10.
Compulsory Education--All monthly reports by teachers are checked over and notices sent to parents whose children are not putting in the required time in school. As yet no ease has been carried to the courts. The county judge cooperates in enforcing the law.
Industrial Education--A corn, sewing and baking contest was held at Clay Center in the fall of 1908. Miss Wolford and Mr. McKelvie addressed the meeting. The attendance of both parents and pupils was good. Buys' and girls' clubs were organized on that day. The county board gave fifty dollars toward making up a prize list for the boys and girls. The following year the county board refused to offer help towards these contests on the ground of illegality. Since that time the work has been carried on through the County Fair Association. Last year this association offered fifty dollars on corn and a neat sum for sewing. One member of the board transformed his automobile into a "Seed-Corn special" and visited more than fifty schools in the county, delivering seed corn directly to the boys and girls. More than sixty buys and girls in the county are actively engaged in the home experimental work.
Teachers' Institutes--It is the policy to make these gatherings worthy of attendance. Only the best instructors are selected. Attendance is insisted upon.
Efficient Teachers--If there is one thing above another upon which special stress is laid it is to increase the efficiency of the teacher by keeping in as close relation with the teacher's work as the duties of the office will permit, by encouraging attendance at state meetings, by bringing the best instructors and speakers to institutes and associations that the money provided will allow and by urging school boards to keep their teachers longer and to pay them better wages.
Whatever increases the efficiency of the teacher is worth while for any school will be good that is presided over by a teacher who has high ideals as to scholastic attainments and seeks to realize them, who is devoted to her work and who is professionally alive.
The teachers of Colfax county held eight teachers' meetings in the county each year. Almost every teacher in the county is enrolled in one or more of these meetings. Thirty-six teachers completed the reading circle work as outlined by the reading circle board. Practically every school in the county possesses a school library. The normal training course in high school in providing rural teachers has been very helpful in Colfax county.
The course of study is in use. The teachers are made familiar with it by work in the teachers' institute and provides for a discussion at every teachers' meeting. All special days are observed in some way.
Four country school houses were built during the last year; four more will be built this year, and preparations are under way by the voting of taxes for the erection of four or five more the following year. Colfax county prides itself on the excellency of the school buildings.
A steady advance is apparent in educational conditions as they exist in Cuming county. There are weak places to be strengthened before ideal conditions can be brought about in the rural districts. The educational spirit is growing stronger each year. There is a desire for better schools on the part of the parents and a demand by school boards for more professionaly (sic) trained teachers, teachers of experience; also a willingness to increase the salaries of such teachers. This is a natural result of the progress that teachers themselves have made along this line.
In view of the fact that one-third of our teachers are beginners each year, we welcome the N. T. class pupils as teachers and find that they, though inexperienced, have a definite purpose in view, are enthusiastic, willing to work and interested in the results of their teaching. I have been pleased to note that most of them, as soon as practical, continue their training at some good normal school.
The reading circle work has been carried on very systematically for a number of years. All the teachers with a few exceptions do the reading, preparing the work carefully and thoroughly. At present the county is divided into three sections for this purpose, each section
meeting at least five times each year. Not only the reading circle work, but any questions pertaining to school problems are discussed at these meetings. We close our work with a general county meeting at which we aim to have a program of much interest and value.
Every teacher is supplied with a copy of the new state course of study. It has brought about a great improvement in our schools, better organization, gradation and classification. Observation of the work since using the course as a guide as compared with the work without this guide impresses us with the fact that uniformity and sysetem (sic) are necessary in school work.
Teachers find an incentive to follow the course of study more closely who have eighth grade pupils. Eighth grade graduations, as a result of passing the eighth grade examinations, has been a means of bringing about more thorough and painstaking work in all the grades. Many of the graduates are availing themselves of free high school privileges that would not have the opportunity of attending under other conditions. West Point, Wisner, Bancroft and Beemer have excellent high schools ready to welcome these pupils. District No. 43 sends eight pupils to high school and thinks the tuition a good investment.
Cuming county teachers and patrons take a just pride in the number of good books in our school libraries. We have aimed at careful selection. Two years ago Miss Templeton held a conference with the teachers at' institute and also delivered a lecture on "Good Literature for Children." Miss Gregory of Bancroft schools gave two talks each day at our institute at Wisner last year on the selection of good books and how to use them. "Few books, but well chosen," has been our watchword with reference to library books.
Industrial work has not made as much progress in Cuming as it should, but is slowly gaining in favor. Two years ago an educational and industrial exhibit was given in which thirty districts were represented. District No 8 in the absence of a general exhibit last year gave a very creditable one of their own, showing agricultural products of the district by the boys and handwork by the girls. Friday afternoons are devoted to hand work in this district. We have a Boys' and Girls' club of over 100 members and will enter upon the work more systematically this year, following the plans of the state superintendent.
There are seventy-eight districts in the county. Though practical and advisable in some localities, consolidation does not meet with favor. Small districts are not financially weak, do not favor consolidation, do not favor transportation of pupils. One district tried to interest the neighboring districts within the last year, but failed to accomplish anything. The community does not seem to be ready for consolidation at present.
Though much has been and is being done in the way of educational progress and we have reason for encouragement, there is yet
much to be accomplished before our schools will fill the ideal place we would like to have them fill in the community.
EMMA R. MILLER.
Since Custer county enjoys the distinction of the largest rural school population of any county in the state, considerable responsibility rests upon the ones who have the supervision of this work. An effort has been made to keep the teachers alive to their responsibilities by teachers' meetings in the different quarters of the county as well as by institute attendance. The size of the county makes it difficult to carry on regular reading circle meetings, as done in eastern counties, but teachers are required to do the reading and also the written work as prescribed by the state department, and reports made at or before time for county institute.
The new library law has had a wholesome influence in almost every case for not only have the teachers taken an additional interest la this work, but school boards and patrons have had it brought so forcibly to their attention that they are becoming personally interested in what their boys and girls are reading, and in many cases are reading these books themselves. At our, last institute a specialist in this work was secured to give instruction in the selection and use of library books and it is hoped that this may bear fruit in the coming years.
It is a satisfaction to testify to the growing efficiency of the teachers in the rural schools of the county. This is doubtless due to the increased facilities for preparation., The normal training offered in the high schools is an excellent opportunity for many of those teachers to acquire this needed training and the location of one of the state junior normals in our county for the past several years has offered another opportunity for this additional preparation which our teachers are taking proper advantage of. We are justly proud of the fact that during this past year we have a larger number enrolled in our junior normal than is enrolled In any other junior normal in the state. Teachers are beginning to realize the truth or the assertion that to secure better salaries we must have better teachers and it is a satisfaction to know that the schools and school officers are acceding to this request. In a few cases .the lack of sufficient funds has been !he cause of low salaries and to a few of the newer districts in the western part of the county the law granting state aid to weak districts has been a very present help. The number of such districts is rapidly diminishing and during the past year of the two hundred and sixty odd districts only six were eligible to this state aid. It is only a matter of a short time until there will be no necessity for this aid for as fast as this new western country settles up and the homesteads become deeded, their taxes will enable them to become self-supporting.
Owing to various causes the compulsory attendance law has been difficult of enforcement here. The number of districts and their size
are perhaps two of these causes. This work has been emphasized, however, during the past year, and with the co-operation of the teachers in making the proper reports it is hoped that during the coming year the evil of irregular attendance may be reduced to a minimum.
Special emphasis has been laid during the past year on the work of the eighth grade in the rural schools. For the first time in the history of the county an eighth grads commencement was arranged and carried out. Over three hundred pupils look this examination, but owing to a lack of properly following the course of study only half this number succeeded in passing and in securing the eighth grade diplomas. Nearly all of these rural pupils are planning to take advantage of the free high school- law and attend high school at some one of our many good town schools. By laying emphasis upon the importance of the course of study as a guide, we have an excellent prospect for a large number of eighth grade graduates the coming year.
During the past summer a County Boys' and Girls' club was organized at the recommendation of the slate superintendent and is doing good work with a membership of over fifty bright boys and girls. Liberal prizes have been offered for samples of their work at the coming county fair.
Dawes county forms a part of the northwest section of our state. It is characterized by its fine climate and picturesque scenery. It has made a good record in the past and is rich in possibilities. Educationall (sic), it has made great progress and has a promising future.
This county counts itself fortunate in having two normal training high schools within its borders. Those schools send out a strong class each year, whose members, besides having met the requirements of the law in regard to normal training, are well equipped for the work of teaching.
The Northwest Nebraska Educational Association has held sixteen annual meetings in Dawes county since its organization in 1893. Some of the best talent of the state has been secured for these meetings this year, making the programs of great interest and of exceptional value. Because of the distance from the capital city, where our state association is held each year, making it impracticable for the majority of the teachers of the county to attend, the District Association plays an important part in the educational life of the teacher.
The introduction of a course of study into our rural schools has done much to better conditions there. Many of our schools are well graded now, and others are becoming so. The systematic use of the course of study provides an incentive for the boys and girls. They really feel that they are advancing. To the teacher it is a valuable guide, as well as a source of satisfaction to her in her work.
The eighth grade examinations and diplomas are doing much for
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