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general management of a school should be so reasonable as to recognize special ability, and vigorous, successful application, and should honor success by the very attributes that are so powerful in the ordinary walks of life.
Class examination and promotion should be periodic. Experience indicates that twice a year is not too often to maintain a well classified school. There are two objects to be had in view in this examination: (1) to investigate the work done by the teachers, and (2) to determine whether the members of the class are individually prepared to enter upon more advanced work.
The promotion of a pupil should not be arbitrarily determined by the averaging of per cents. He should, in all cases, be permitted to pass if the probabilities are, at all, in his favor. Health, ability, habits, faithfulness and acquirements should all be considered as factors in the determination of his advancement. No system of marking can be depended upon as a safe guide. Discretion is of more value than per cents, and the wise superintendent appreciates and employs it in determining doubtful cases.
Classes are as much different in talent, application and studious habits as individuals. This fact should be remembered when work is assigned or is being done. The superintendent is obliged to pay more attention to what can be well done, than what the course of study requires for any certain period of time. A course of study is intended as a general guide to teachers and superintendent. It is not presumed to become a master whose will is unchangeable. It is arbitrary, and is expected to indicate what can be reasonably undertaken by the average pupil. Pupils are unknown quantities, and the requirements of a course of study must not be permitted to become supreme and over-ride and control good judgment. Courses of study are a good thing when properly used. They are a necessity in any system of schools, but they must not be placed in such authority as to become procrustean and destroy the very mental power and vigorous freedom of action that are intended to be cultivated and de'veloped.
The moral and intellectual influence of a superintendent is very great. He occupies a prominent place in public favor and esteem, and the hundreds of pupils under his charge look upon him as one whose life and character is worthy of emulation. He gains their affection by recognizing their success and giving them advice and encouragement. He is expected to repress evil tendencies, to awaken dormant aspirations, and to guide his pupils to the appreciation of right objects and pure motives. To be as successful as the place demands, he must obtain their respect, esteem and love. His habits should be worthy of immitation, his character grand and ennobling, his morals certain and convincing.
ABSTRACTS FROM REPORTS OF COUNTY SUPER
J. W. BOYER.
In submitting my report I would say that secretaries' and treasurers' reports came in more promptly and in better condition than last year. As the law is at present it is optional with teachers whether they make reports of their schools to the county superintendent. What our rural schools need is closer supervision. To exercise such supervision, a county superintendent should have the means of knowing the exact condition of every school in the county. This knowledge cannot be obtained except from monthly or term reports provided by law. The county superintendent should keep a record of each school, including length of term, name of teacher, monthly compensation, enrollment, average attendance, branches taught, number of pupils studying each branch, number of recitations per day, and several other items. By reference to such a record the county superintendent could easily correct any errors which might occur in the annual reports of district secretaries, before sending abstract of such reports to the Superintendent of Publie Instruction; he could also ascertain at a glance almost any fact acquired by visitation.
The educational interests of Adair county are advancing steadily and surely, and while our schools are not all they might be, I am satisfied they are in good condition. Last year teachers received better wages than the year before, and this year school boards have raised the wages still higher in several townships. Teachers will get from $35.00 to $10.00 per month this winter. In most of the townships teachers holding first grade certificates receive five dollars more per month than those holding second grade.
Since my last report twelve new school-houses have been erected in this county; some of them to take the place of old ones, and others in subdistricts lately organized. In erecting these houses school officers seem to have considered the prospective, as well as the immediate wants of the districts, for the houses are all of good size.
A large and commodious school building, costing about $12,000.00, has just been completed at Fontanelle. The style of architecture is new and the building planned with a view to comfort, convenience, and good ventilation. It is indeed a credit to the enterprising people of that town, and betrays a commendable interest in education.
Our normal institutes have been well attended, and have done much to improve our teachers, especially those who yearly recruit the teachers' ranks.
Teachers associations are held at four points in the county:
HOWARD H, RUSSELL.
In the school affairs of this county very rapid strides of progress are being made, and the future promises well.
The normal institute just closed has given evidence that we have among us a much better average grade of teachers than heretofore. The superintendent of this county has succeeded in obtaining the interest of the teachers in attendance upon the institute in educational literature. A list of about seventy subscribers having been obtained for some of the best publications in the country, notably good weekly papers.
We have abandoned our monthly institute meetings at the countyseat, and endeavors are being made to organize and carry on township meetings instead. Thus far only a few townships have responded, but there is good prospect for future success in this direction.
The superintendent of this county can testify that very much better work is done by the teachers when they have an understanding that the superintendent is liable to drop in for a friendly call almost any day. The school is kept wide awake looking for his visit, and preparing to give him a warm reception. He can further testify to the great good coming to the educational interests of the State from the convention of superintendents, that have been called together in districts, by the State superintendent. These cannot afford to be dropped or neglected. The superintendent of this county has been very much helped in making his work successful by the good influence and instruction gained thereat.
The superintendent of this county has decided to raise the grade of qualification required of candidates for certificates from three to five per cent next year. This will reduce the number of teachers somewhat, but those who do work will receive better pay, and good laborers will be invited into this vineyard.
With very great hopes for the future of Iowa schools, this report is respectfully submitted.
BUENA VISTA COUNTY.
J. C. HARLAN.
In Buena Vista county we have to record commendable action upon the part of our school officers in building comfortable school-houses wherever needed, but we lack yet the necessary libraries and apparatus which should be at the command of teachers to enable them to bring out true and speedy development of mind.
Our law providing for the planting of shade trees around schoolhouses was received so late that but few have availed themselves of its advantages this year, but the interest taken by two or three townships that have already planted trees indicate a desire for the much needed improvement and will prove a stimulus to others.