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TEACHERS' REGISTER. One defect I have found in the teachers' register is in the teacher omitting to drop from the register, after a certain number of days, the names of pupils who have left school, but continuing to mark said pupils as absent, thus inaking an undue discrepancy between the average number belonging, and the average daily attendance.
I find, often times, the chairman of the board of directors is remiss in duty, in neglecting to carefully inspect the monthly summaries and the teachers' final report in the register.
ENTERPRISE AND ZEAL OF TEACHERS. The spirit of enterprise and zeal among the teachers of Union county is surely much in advance of what it was a few years ago. The best means of cultivating this spirit is by the encouragement of frequent association of teachers in institutes and educational meetings, by occasional visits to other schools, by the reading of educational periodicals and books on educational subjects.
By the frequent association of teachers together, and an interchange of thought upon methods of teaching, school management, discipline, etc., is begotten an interest in and love for the profession.
FAILURES IN TEACHING. Failures in teaching do not arise so much from a lack of those natural qualifications, as from a neglect to make use of the abilities possessed, and to acquire by study a better fitness for the work.
Failures sometimes come from a want of appreciation of the importance of the profession and a realization of its responsibilities.
While we have in this county some teachers who are not very efficient, yet we have very few downright failures, and those do not occuras often among the young teachers as among those of several years' experience, and who have become somewhat fossilized in their methods.
SCHOOL VISITS BY COUNTY SUPERINTENDENTS. In this county there are sixty-nine school districts. I have tried to visit these in accordance with the requirements of the school law. Some districts employ different teachers for the different terms of the school year. As far as possible I have tried to visit each teacher during each term of school. The most remote school district in this county, to the east, is sixty miles from Union, the county seat, and the most remote to the north and west are each forty miles distant. In visiting the schools in these localities, I have generally found in some districts the schools not in session, which has necessitated a return, or has left these particular districts without visitation by the superintendent. Where districts are near together I have devoted the day to visiting two schools.
CONDITION OF SCHOOL HOUSES. In many of the school districts of this county the old school houses have been replaced by new and more commodious buildings, while in some other districts the old houses have been refitted, so that at present, with a few exceptions, the school houses of this county are in a fairly good condition, and generally, so far as room is concerned, are ample to accommodate all children attending the schools.
CONDITION OF SCHOOL PREMISES, APPARATUS, ETC. As rule, the school premises and outbuildings of the districts of the county are not in very good condition, at least not commensurate with the
respective school buildings. In comparatively few instances are the surroundings of our school houses found in that neat and orderly condition which we would expect to see existing around a well-kept home.
As the surrounding of our school grounds have an influence in forming the tastes and habits of the youth during this, the formative state, it is importaut that these grounds be kept orderly and neat, that thereby may be cultivated a desire and love for order and beauty around the home and system in the business life.
Many of the school boards of this county have taken advantage of the law providing that each district drawing less than $500 a year from the common school fund may use $30 of the same annually for the purchase of school apparatus, and are supplying their school houses with maps, globes, dictionaries, charts, etc.
Most of the new school bouses and many of the old ones have been furnished with patent seats and other modern furniture, secured from the firms dealing in these goods.
COURSE OF STUDY FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS. During the past three years, at our county institutes, has been discussed the subject of grading our county public schools. Committees were appointed to arrange a course of study and devise plans for carrying the same into effect, but so far nothing definite has been done. Some of our leading teachers have the impression that in commencing this work in the county, we are aiming too low ; they think that it should be done by legislative action, and be made uniform throughout the State, so that pupils in going from one part of the State to another, and bearing certificates of graduation, would be prepared to enter in the proper place any public school.
It is a question whether it is best to adopt a thorough or rigid graduation for any of the public schools, only so far as is necessary for system.
Some think that classification at the hands of an intelligent teacher of pupils, according to their ability, or capability of advancement in particular studies, to be productive of better results than grading all of each of the branches of a course by terms, as by the latter course is liable to result discouragement to the best, as well as those of mediocre ability, the one being uuduly restrained, and the other urged beyond his capabilities. That is, the system should be made for the child, and not the child for the system.
AVERAGE ATTENDANCE OF PUPILS IN SCHOOLS. The number of persons between four and twenty years of age residing in this county, according to the census taken this year, was 4,399; the enrollment in public schools of persons between these ages was 3,154, while the average daily attendance was but 2,117. While the per cent of the latter average, as compared with the census and enrollment is small, it is, however, much better than it was last year.
TEACHERS' READING CIRCLE OF OREGON. This subject has been presented at our institutes and educational meetings. Its importance and value to the teacher has been urged during my school visitation, circular letters sent out on the subject, and whenever opportunity offered I have appealed personally to the teachers to connect themselves with the circle, and pursue the course. These appeals have met with a reasonable response from our teachers. Our county membership is between 30 and 40, and is said by the State manager to be the largest county list in the State. Several local circles have been organized. Our teachers are beginning to realize the need of a better fitness for the profession, which this course of reading will help to bring about.
THE OREGON SCHOOL EXHIBIT AT THE WORLD'S FAIR, 1893. Circular letters have been issued, calling the attention of the teachers of the county to the fact that it has been decided that Oregon shall make a State educational exbibit at the Chicago Exposition, in 1893, and requesting that they assist in preparing material for this exhibit, according to instructions sent out by the Oregon State committee. Another circular letter is to be issued, requesting contributions from the teachers and pupils of the county, to aid in defraying the expenses of this exhibit.
Nearly every school which was in session in this county last April held Arbor day exercises of some kind. On many of the school grounds in this part of the State the soil is of such a character that trees and shrubbery will not grow without artificial irrigation. This is impossible to secure in some localities, hence, such grounds are and will continue to be devoid of proper ornamentation. However, some of these districts carried out the programme of exercises, with the exception of setting trees.
We regard the annual observance of this day as an eminently proper and beneficial exercise for the schools.
GENERAL SUGGESTIONS. I would suggest that with other blanks sent out by the State superinlendent, for the use of district clerks, that a blank assessment roll be prepared and furnished to the various county superintendents, to be supplied to the district clerks whenever a tax is levied, as the clerks find themselves unable to make up such a roll in proper order.
I would further suggest that aid be asked from the State legislature to assist in making a State educational exhibit at the coming World's Fair.
EDUCATIONAL OUTLOOK IN THIS COUNTY. I can say with satisfaction that the educational outlook in this county is encouraging. School boards and patrons generally are desiring to employ teachers of good qualifications, and before employing them wish to know of their experience, grade of certificate, natural qualifications, etc. Our teachers, too, are coming to a higher appreciation of the importance of the profession, and are seeking a better fitness for it.
WALLOWA COUNTY-SUPERINTENDENT, F. M. McCULLY.
The great difference between the total census and the number of pupils enrolled in Wallowa county is accounted for by the contour of our country, which renders it impossible to locate school houses convenient to more than 60 per cent of the families in the sparsely settled districts. The small average attendance can only be explained by the general indifference of the parents.
During the past year a system of general grade work has been handed to teachers, with instructions to put the same into effect. The general effects upon our schools have been encouraging.
Regarding the present school law, I am of the opinion that it could be much improved by a “simplifying process."
WASCO COUNTY - SUPERINTENDENT, TROY SHELLEY.
COUNTY INSTITUTES. For a number of years past our annual county institute has been held in this county with more or less success. Last year an attempt was made to hold
a normal institute with paid instructors in connection with the county institute. The services of Profs. W. A. Wetzel and J. H. Ackerman, of Portland, were secured, and the work done was of lasting benefit to the school interests of the county. The interests of prominent persons as well as teachers was elicited, and a step forward was made, which I hope will not be lost in the future.
LOCAL INSTITUTES. So far as I know, I have held the first local institutes in the county. One was held at Hood River in November, 1890 ; one at Dufur, February, 1891 ; one at Wamie, October, 1891, and again at Dufur in February, 1892. Another one is to be held at Hood River soon, and possibly at Antelope. These are the only points in the county where such gatherings can he had. The success of these meetings was far beyond my expectations. They have been well attended, and teachers have almost invariably made every effort in their power to secure success. Visitors and teachers have been entertained free, local talent in music has freely given its best, and each of the five newspapers in the county has freely given its columns for advertisement. The work has not been mine alone I do not claim it. The people in many cases have been anxious for it. I would say to all who have not tried them, the value of such meetings, though the gatherings be small, cannot be overestimated.
TEACHERS' REPORTS. I have had a good deal of trouble with some of these, but a blackboard illustration at our county institute of some of the bad forms has had a marked effect on succeeding ones. In looking them over, I mark in pencil at the top of those that are incorrect, and when the teacher comes to the office, call his attention to it The mistake is not repeated.
CLERKS' REPORTS. Some of these are very incorrect, especially in financial accounts. A dozen or more have been returned this spring. Å report from teacher or clerk is worthless if incorrect. The trouble with many is that they think it is a mere form required by law, that it is never examined by the one to whom it is sent, and therefore does not matter how it is made out, whether complete or incomplete, correct or incorrect. When it is returned to them for correction they are apt to be more careful next time. I think the remedy, therefore, lies in the superintendent's bands, and when teachers and clerks are called to account for their mistakes this trouble with reports will gradually be done away.
TEACHERS' EXAMINATIONS. In the seven quarterly examinations I have held, there have been granted three first grade, 18 second grade and 25 third grade certificates, and there have been 42 failures—46 per cent. A number of the failures have been on account of not reaching the standing for next bigher grade, which by law they are required to reach each time. Still, the percentage of failures is very large, and there is considerable dissatisfaction in consequence,
SCHOOL VISITS BY COUSTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS. I have endeavored to fulfill the law in this regard, visiting both in the spring and fall, and yet it has so happened that there are some schools I have never visited, not being in session when my visit was timed to that part of the county. I could, of course, make an extra trip to schools near The Dalles, but for the further ones-from fifty to seventy-five miles—it cannot be done. In this county this is the hardest part of the superintendent's work; and yet, I think the most effective work can be done by these timely visits.
CONDITION OF SCHOOL HOUSES, PREMISES, ETC. . Some districts have taken great pains to build commodious and comfortable houses ; but others have never attempted any improvement, having the same old buildings for the last dozen or fifteen years. The condition of things in some of these, and the surroundings, are cheerless indeed ; no paint, nor whitewash, nor any brightening up whatever ; the seats consisting of rough carpenter's benches, rickety, stained, and carved ; on the outside no woodshed, no fence, nor any touch of improvement.
In visiting schools I have made a note of all improvements made, as well as needed improvements, and called the attention of the public to them in my report in the local papers. This has had a salutary effect in several instances, and will, in time, I hope, help to bring about a better condition of things.
COURSE OF STUDY. At our last county institute the subject of grading the schools of the county was discussed. It was finally agreed to leave the arrangement of a course of study to a committee of three, consisting of the county superintendent and two others whom he should appoint, and that the work of this committee should be revised by a meeting of teachers during the holidays. All this work has been carried out according to the resolution of the institute. A graded course bas been prepared by the commitee, revised by the body of teachers called for that purpose, printed in the county pewspapers, and awaits the final action of the teachers of the county at our next county institute. There is some opposition to it, but public opinion is generally in favor of some such scheme, so that the work of the schools may be systematized.
TEACHERS' READING CIRCLE. About forty of our teachers are members of the State Teachers' Reading Circle. No county or local circles have been held except in The Dalles. Beginning with November last, a weekly meeting of the teachers of this place was held under the leadership of Prof. M. W. Smith, which resulted in much profit to the teachers.
ARBOR DAY. Last year only three schools, I think, made any attempt to observe this day. This year the circulars mailed to me were, from some cause, delayed one week. Immediately on receipt of them, I sent out the circulars to all the schools, asking the teachers to report to me the result of their exercises. A good many received the circulars too late ; nevertheless, very gratifying reports, which were afterwards published in the county newspapers, were received from seven schools. The plan for the observance of this day is a good one, and I feel quite hopeful that soon a majority of the schools will regularly unite in these exercises. As a result, the desolaté appearance of so many of our school grounds, where the children pass so much of their time, would be inade attractive and beautiful, thus helping to solve one of the vexed questions of school life, tardiness and truancy. This measure deserves the hearty support of all.