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The graded course of study has been adopted for the institute, with good results. The teachers now feel that they have something to work for, and they are ready for business. Two years ago the enrollment was but sixty-six, with an average attendance of thirty-five. Believing the institute to be a power for good, we set about building it up, with the following results as a reward for our efforts: Last year the enrollment was one hundred and seven, and average attendance eightyfive, being an increase of fifty-one in enrollment and fifty in attendThis year we enrolled one hundred and twenty-two, and had an average attendance of one hundred and ten, an increase over the enrollment of last year of fifteen, and in attendance of twenty-five. Good instructors and constant effort throughout the year did the work. No county in the State can boast of a harder working set of teachers in the institute than can Mitchell.
Two years ago there were but eight teachers taking educational papers, now there are upwards of sixty copies taken and read.
We might specify at length, but will conclude by saying, that while much has been done, we are not yet satisfied, but have planned for, and are expecting much better results from the coming year's work.
W. E. ELDER.
I can recommend our school officers for accuracy and promptness in nearly every case. The carelessness exists altogether among the officers in the independent rural districts. There are several reasons for this; some are negligent because it is only a little duty; others do not know how to do the work; and again, there are districts which do not contain enough of active business persons to attend to these things.
It would be much better if the independent rural district organizations were abandoned, and the independent township organization substituted instead. In this way the above, and a number of other difficulties, could be remedied. It would at least be a matter of expediency and economy to have only one treasurer in each township in which independent districts exist. We have four such townships in
this county. They contain twenty-eight districts. The treasurers in these districts are paid at least an average of six dollars per year, making $168 in all. If this amount of money was paid to one treasurer in each township, it would give each a salary of $42.00 a year. This
is much more than it is worth. In the townships that contain subdistricts the cost of the same work does not exceed $28.00, one-third less. It would also insure more accurate reports.
Our schools are generally doing good work. We have commenced this year with a determination to do the best year's work that ever has been done in the county. I am going to place a school journal of some kind in the hands of every teacher, if possible.
Our school boards are paying on an average about two dollars more than last year. We, as a county, are still paying as little as any county in the State. We propose to raise the wages. And with the wages, the quality of teaching.
S. E. WILSON.
The people of Page county recognize in their schools an important factor in the upbuilding of the material interests of the State. This is evidenced by the promptness with which they usually respond to duty as school officers and patrons, the liberal support which they give for the erection of commodious buildings, and the procurement of apparatus, and the disposition recently exhibited to augment the "hire" of the teacher. I am glad to be able to report that most of the school boards in the county, increased the wages at the annual meeting in March, whereby the teachers will receive this year, about two thousand dollars more than last.
I am convinced of the superiority of the subdistrict over the independent system, and would that in this, we were back in the "landmarks of our fathers."
The expediency of abolishing the office of school treasurer, and having the funds disbursed by the county treasurer, has been so frequently urged by county superintendents, and was so ably advocated in the last legislature that to reiterate is perhaps superfluous, but the necessity of such a measure, not only for the convenience of school officers and teachers, but also for the safe and proper management of the funds, will certainly become so apparent that our legislature will give it wise and careful consideration.
Our normal institute is always well attended and meets with favor among our teachers. In accordance with the suggestions of the committee appointed by the State Teachers' Association, a graded course
of study was prepared which was strictly followed, and which gave to our work better results than have heretofore been attained.
Every quarter we hold a session of the County Teachers' Associa tion, and considerable zeal and interest have been manifested by our teachers in this burnishing process preparatory to their work. We have barely enough teachers to supply our schools. If the examinations have been more rigid, they have been beneficial in this, that the unjust war on wages made by unskilled persons has ceased.
I believe our schools generally were never in a more prosperous condition than now. The public were never so exacting in demanding faithful, efficient work, and men and women never prepared themselves so thoroughly, nor applied themselves so assiduously, to the schoolroom work as at the present time. These are productive of a pure public sentiment, and as a higher appreciation of the value of our schools obtains among the people, they will realize more fully that "public education is a measure of public economy."
As you will see by the reports of the secretaries, the attendance has averaged better this year than formerly, although the last winter was a very unfavorable one. While this feature is encouraging there is one which discourages; on account of the lowness of teachers' salaries many of our best instructors have withdrawn from the work, leaving their places to be filled by young and inexperienced teachers.
P. S. MORTON.
Secretaries and treasurers have been very prompt in filing their annual reports. Comparatively few changes have been made in these offices within the last few years, and as a result reports are generally correct and promptly made. The school property of the county is in good condition and carefully guarded.
Two school-houses have been erected during the year; one in independent district No. 7, Buffalo township, and the other in subdistrict No. 1, district township of Sheridan. The former is a model building in neatness and convenience, and cost $1,800, exclusive of grounds; the latter is a convenient and substantial structure and cost $1,400.
Our schools are in a prosperous condition-never more so. In method, classification, and course of study, the work of our teachers is practically uniform. We still have a very few fossilized teachers but happily their number is diminishing rapidly. The normal institutes, when judiciously managed, are doing more for our schools than any other single agency. Our last institute was a success in every respect. Instructors came before their classes thoroughly prepared; members of the institute vied with each other in constant endeavor to improve. I kept vigilant watch over it during all the sessions, and at the close, came to the conclusion that just one member of it failed to become interested and work. A new feature in our work was that of drawing, taught by Prof. W. N. Hull, of the State Normal School. His system of drawing is simple and very practical. Our teachers were very much interested in it, and we anticipate good results from it. I am fully convinced that industrial drawing ought to be taught in all grades of our district schools. Without it, an important link is omitted in our educational system. I think the legislature should be urged to add it to the branches now required by law to be taught.
It affords me pleasure to mention the grand work done by Dr. J. M. Gregory, of Illinois, in our institute. His work was invaluable and made a deep and lasting impression on all who heard him.
In Davenport, the special teacher of penmanship has been dropped, and the regular teachers are now required to do all the work of instruction in that branch. The schools of the city are prospering finely under the present management. The unusual severity of last winter, with its mountains of snow, and the terrible scourge of scarlet fever and diphtheria which prevailed in this city and most parts of the county during the winter and early spring, decimated our schools and diminished the average attendance for the year very materially. Our county teachers' association is well organized and the teachers are determined to do aggressive work during the coming year.
W. W. GIRTON.
The schools of Shelby county are steadily improving. The county is becoming permanently settled and more interest is manifested both by parents and teachers than ever before. The severe weather during last winter decreased the attendance very much and in some localities
schools were entirely suspended for want of fuel. The normal institute serves to give the teachers much needed instruction, and they are gradually learning to put in practice in their schools the methods which they have learned there. Many of our most energetic and enthusiastic teachers have never received any special training for their work and lack in methods. The institute enables such to obtain some outlines of the work that should be done in schools, and I am pleased to testify that most of our teachers are eager to improve, and ready to put in practice methods obtained from this source. During the past year, nearly every one of the teachers in this county has procured a copy of the little book recommended by Prof. Fellows, "Hughes' Mistakes in Teaching," and many have purchased others. I find many manifest improvements in the schools already as the result of their study in this direction. We graded our institute into three divisions and followed the course of study faithfully, giving at the close certificates of attendance and scholarship in the first three years' work.
One of the most serious difficulties which the teachers meet, is the lack of uniformity in text-books. Families moving from other counties or other States bring books with them, thus filling the schools with the greatest possible variety of books, which serve to consume the time and confuse the teacher.
School officers have been careful in preparing their reports, and in most instances very promptly forwarded them to me. In many townships, the wages have been raised, but they are still too low to induce capable teachers to remain long in the profession. Eight new schoolhouses have been built during the past year. Each is commodious, neat, and constructed with reference to thorough ventilation.
L. B. BAUGHMAN.
I am glad to report an increased interest in the cause of education in Story county among school officers, teachers, and patrons. However, there is still room for improvement.
A large number and a better class of school-houses have been erected during the current year. Some advance has been made in the salaries of teachers.
The teachers' institute was one of the most successful ever held in the county. The educational interests of the county were never in a more prosperous condition than at the present time.