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The great variety of text-books which, partly by the inharmonious action of the different boards of directors, have crept into the schools of the several districts, proves a source of great confusion to both teachers and pupils, and causes, no doubt, much waste of valuable time. We shall try to have teachers obviate that difficulty by teaching by topics, following in the main the State course of study.
Our teachers are willing, energetic and earnest, but so many are without experience that the work moves more slowly than we could wish. A few of our districts were without summer schools until very late, for good reasons.
The wages offered were not sufficient to secure qualified teachers, and I deemed it unwise to lower my established grade, and issue more third grade certificates. School boards are now changing their policy somewhat, and we hope by again gradually raising the standard of requirement to fully satisfy their expectations, and give them good teachers and good schools.
Our normal institute, held in March, and conducted by two experienced educators, ex-Supt. C. W. von Coelln and Mrs. G. S. Robinson, was well attended, and recognized as being one of the most profitable ever held in our county.
J. D. ANDERSON.
The schools of Butler county are in a prosperous condition. Exceptions to this rule are found, of course, but generally in such schools as are in the hands of young and inexperienced teachers.
The average attendance, however, is not what it should be. Teachers do all in their power to make the attendance all that it can possibly be made, still, unless parents feel the same interest, pupils of the different districts will many of them grow up without taking advantage of the opportunity furnished them of acquiring an education.
Our graded schools are presided over by teachers of special merit, who have had professional training, and these schools are in excellent condition.
In this county we have none of the higher institutions of learning, and depend largely upon our graded and normal institutes for instruction in methods. A course of study is found in every school-room, and teachers are required to follow the same as closely as possible.
The ninth annual institute of Butler county began August 7th, and continued in session three weeks. The enrollment was fully up to the average, and results satisfactory. At the close a county teachers' association was organized, which is to meet four times a year.
Butler county is ready and anxious to co-operate with the other counties of Iowa, in any and every legitimate method of awakening an increased interest in educational matters, and of improving and perfecting the schools of our State.
MRS. C. E, o'poxOGHUE.
We have over ninety schools in Calhoun county, have not had resident teachers to supply the demand during the past year.
The principal trouble with our schools is non-attendance. We can not begin to receive the value of the money expended for school purposes until something is done to secure a greater regularity of attendance.
Too great a variety of text-books is another evil to be deplored. Especially is it difficult to teach reading and orthography with books which are unlike, or not graded properly. With other branches topical recitation can be used to advantage, if teachers are familiar with such methods.
Our teachers are generally enthusiastic and conscientious, and keep their school-rooms neat and well ordered. Many teachers have adopted the State course of study, and use it successfully in their schools.
In my visits I try to encourage both teachers and pupils to seek for practical knowledge, which will be a help to them in every-day life.
The schools are nearly all small, consequently are easily managed.
Our normal institute was a success in every respect. The teachers were thorough, enthusiastic and willing, and as our instruction was largely as to methods I believe we shall have better schools the coming year than ever before.
MISS ELLA M. SLATER.
In Cherokee county we have many efficient teachers, but some lack in education, some in methods, and some in general live interest in school work.
Many of the parents have not sufficient educational enthusiasm to insist upon prompt and regular attendance at school on the part of their children, while at the same time they are possessed of the strongest prejudices against new methods; and it is not uncommon for a weak and timid, but well-meaning teacher to be forced by public opinion to lay aside an improved plan of work and proceed according to the models of a former generation.
A lack of uniformity of text-books also retards the progress of our schools.
These facts, together with the good openings in other employments, have led several of our best teachers to try other work than teaching. There is a bright side, however, and to one who looks for encouraging features, the reward is sure, if not all-sufficient. There is a growing interest on the part of sub-directors when they once secure a good teacher to retain him. A large number of school officers and teachers seem heartily to indorse the plan proposed and discussed at the County Superintendents’ Convention, to make the grade of certificate indicate not only the standing attained in the examination, but to make it also an expression of the capability of the teacher for his work.
Wages during the past year have materially advanced, so that throughout the county teachers are better paid than ever before. Several townships have adopted and enforced the use of a series of text-books, and this plan seems to be growing in public favor.
Our last normal institute was thoroughly successful, the attendance good, the work of the conductors excellent, and the interest aroused well sustained. Model classes were a very profitable feature. The teachers went forth to their schools feeling better prepared to surmount the difficulties, and use to the utmost the advantages attendant upon their work.
J. A. LAPHAM.
In making my annual report concerning the public schools of Chickasaw county, I take pleasure in referring to the excellent work commenced by my predecessor, H. A. Simons. He made vigorous efforts to grade our country schools. A meeting of school officers from various parts of the county materially aided this work. A course of study especially adapted to country schools was prepared. The convention appointed a committee to select, and finally adopted a uniform series of books for the county, said series to be recommended to the different school boards for their adoption. A term register was also prepared, to indicate carefully the attendance, punetuality, and scholarship of each student enrolled. This would enable the new teacher to ascertain immediately the condition of his school; also tend to inspire the scholars to better work. This system having been so nicely planned and commenced last year, I have been very busy pushing it into the field, consequently have devoted my time to visitation. Results are quite promising.
The good effects of grading the work are already apparent in a few
schools. Many of our best patrons are becoming more interested in educational matters.
In some schools there will be students to complete the course next winter. To such as can pass a good examination, I contemplate giving a certificate of common school education.
Our educational meetings of last winter were valuable in forwarding school projects. While our work is much crippled by a lack of good teachers, we have some excellent workers. Attendance at the normal institute was good.
Three new school houses have been erected this year, one a twostory edifice. More attention is given to ventilation of school-rooms
MISS MARY A. OSMOND.
There are now in Clarke county ninety-six ungraded and four graded schools, with nineteen rooms in the latter. Under the law as it was before July 4th, to visit each of these schools, according to requirements, would occupy all of a superintendent's time.
Notwithstanding hindrances on account of wet weather, I visited seventy-three of our schools between January and July. I found most of these presided over by teachers of limited experience.
The average attendance of pupils is less than half of the enrollment in many schools. Added to this is another deplorable evil in the lack of uniformity in text-books used.
It is an encouraging fact that improved methods of teaching are everywhere apparent. The good policy of retaining the same teachers has been exemplified in our normal institutes, and it is beginning to be understood by directors. We have had the same conductor in our normal institute for three successive years; long enough to impress his methods on a "generation” of teachers, and this is manifested in the work done by teachers. About one-third of our teachers