For the Love of School

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 1 Oct 2015.

I’ve been blogging a lot about education as I’ve shared my husband’s grandmother’s 8th grade final exams. As I continue to do research for the Kinship Determination paper in fulfillment of one of the portfolio requirements for obtaining accreditation as a Certified Genealogist, I found several references to a severe teacher in the early 1800’s in Pennsylvania.  I can’t share much due to following the directions for the submission but it’s hard for me to get the meanness of that teacher out of my brain!  He was well remembered nearly 50 years after he taught but those memories from his students weren’t at all pleasant.

We hear so much today about infusing rigor and insuring accountability in public education.  In the earlier days of our country, that was not a concern. Developing “good” citizens was what was most important. There were no teacher certification programs, curriculum standards or laws related to compulsory student attendance.  Yet students learned.  We moved from an agrarian society to a factory model and now, to a technological one.  Certainly different skills are needed today than in the early 1800’s, however, the basics are just as relevant as they were in the past. Instilling a desire to become a lifelong learner and teaching a student how to seek out needed information remains vitally important.

My grandfather received little formal education in his native Austria-Hungary (now Croatia).  Today, we would consider him to be illiterate.  My grandmother received 3 years of formal public education in the United States after she emigrated.  My mother was the oldest child of this immigrant couple. Mom received little educational support at home as the focus was on bringing money into the household to insure security.

My mother’s elementary school years were at Glen Park Elementary in Gary, Lake County, Indiana:

Glen Park Elementary School, Gary, Indiana

I took this photo when I last visited the area in December 2001.  My mom had wonderful memories of the warm teachers who instilled in her not only the basics but the culture of the community.  Mom said she cried when she graduated from the school and had to attend Franklin Junior High.  She was taken under the wing of the Home Economics teacher at Franklin and continued to love school.

Unfortunately, the Great Recession occurred and it was necessary for her to help her family financially so mom quit attending Lew Wallace High School in 10th grade to go to work.  At the time, she was the most educated individual in her family.

Being a second generation away from immigration, my educational experiences were very different than my mothers.  Noncompulsory kindergarten was available so I attended a church school’s half day morning program.  I was fortunate to start my schooling with a phenomenal teacher, Bethel Ebelglebin Mattingly.  “Miss E” was the founder of the Jack and Jill Academy at Augustana Lutheran Church in Hobart, Indiana.  I was reading, printing and could add and subtract two digit numbers by the time I finished her program. Once a month we went on a field trip – to the community library, the movie theatre (where Miss E. had kicked off her shoes and they happened to roll down the aisle.  We had a hunt to find them when the movie ended!), my father’s farm, picnic in the park, and fishing at Lake George are all fond memories.  The most important skill Miss E. taught us, though, was how to work with others.

One morning, about a month into the school year, Miss E. decided to move student seats around.  I was devastated to be moved away from my then best friend, Melanie, and placed between two boys.  These boys were alot slower than I was academically and would probably be called ADHD today.  When my mom picked me up from school I informed her I wasn’t going back if I had to sit at the new table.  Mom said that Miss E was very smart and must have a good reason to have made the seat changes so we had to respect the decision.  I didn’t care, I was not going to go back.  I had been bumped into all morning long, had felt the need to pick up all the crayons they dropped and didn’t like the noises they made.  Mom said she would speak with Miss E. but I was going back to school.

Mom followed through on her promise.  I stayed the next morning and was sure my seat would be changed. Except it wasn’t.  Mid-morning when the class went out for recess Miss E. told me we needed “a chat.” She explained to me that I was a model student and that she had hoped that I would help out the boys who needed to develop some of the skills that I had.  She asked if I wanted to be a teacher some day.  I told her I was going to be a cowgirl.  Miss E. said sitting between the boys would help me be a better cowgirl as cows needed extra effort to get them to go where you wanted.  Personally, I didn’t understand how the boys needed to be moved along like cattle nor did I care to move them but Miss E. was so kind and made me understand that the class was a team and we needed to move forward together.  My seat remained and I learned to get along.

Mrs. Mattingly passed away in 2009.  We kept in touch over the years and she was very pleased to learn that I did, indeed, become an educator and not a cowgirl.  Towards the end of her life, we would chat monthly.  If she called me when I wasn’t home she would leave a message on my answering machine that said, “This is Miss E.  I’m sorry I missed you, Lori dear.  I hope you’re being a good girl.  We’ll talk soon.”

My husband loved those messages since I still tend to be feisty (as the Walgreens clerk labeled me last Sunday but that’s another story) and he still kids me about being a “good girl.”  He saved on tape one of the last messages she left and I’m so glad he did.

Below is a picture of Mrs. Mattingly on her birthday:

Bethel Ebleglebin Mattingly

My parents separated during my kindergarten year so my mother and I moved back to the family home in Glen Park.  The next 8 years were spent at St. Mark’s School.  Grades 1-4 were in the old building and grades 5-8 were in what was then the new building (below).  Only headstart is offered currently:

Former St. Marks Roman Catholic School, Gary, Indiana

Although I received a rigorous education at St. Marks it didn’t include the loving nature of Miss E.  Our early grades had 50 students in a class, 2 classes per grade level so the teachers didn’t have alot of time for warm and fuzzy.  My teachers were either extremely old and I was in the last class they were teaching, or very young and they didn’t have the process of running a classroom down.  I had one exceptional teacher in middle school who left to seek fame and fortune in California and was never heard from again.

I developed a great dislike of math due to an incident at the chalkboard below (which is now a church office):

Former 1st Grade Classroom, St. Marks Roman Catholic School, Gary, Indiana

Our teacher would place math problems on the board and we had to go up to the board in line based on the row she called to complete the problem.  I didn’t like the feel of chalk on my hands and I hated the squeak it made.  My goal was to get done as quick as possible.  I was able to do that by figuring out which problem I would get ahead of time, calculating the answer in my head and then quickly writing the answer and returning to my seat.  Except one late fall day the student in front of me needed to tie his shoe so Sister Martina made him get out of line and told me to go around him.  I did and went to what should have been my problem. Sister told me to move to what would have been his problem.  I completely blanked out.  I stood there and couldn’t process.  She spoke louder to me which didn’t help.  I began to cry.  She told me I could stand there until I got the answer.  This wasn’t said in a threatening way but I felt added pressure to complete what I couldn’t so I cried louder.  Some sweet girl whispered the answer and I wrote it down and returned to my seat.  I decided that moment that I didn’t like math, would never like math and couldn’t do math.  I’ve been battling those thoughts ever since. I know I’m not alone; I guess that’s why I relate so well to the comment my husband’s grandmother wrote on her failed 8th grade Algebra exam “Not that old story again!”  (see blog of 10 Sep 2015 More of Elsie’s Exams – An Indiana 1910 End of Course Math Assessment)

In reflecting on my education, what I know of my mom’s, and Elsie’s from her exams, I’ve reached the conclusion that the most important part of education is not the rigor of the curriculum.  What matters most is that the student feels it’s safe to tackle the rigor and that the instructor listens and cares.

Funny how this is apparent in the historical records, too, but widely ignored. Reminds me of the quote by George Santayana,

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

In education we constantly look for the new big idea instead of looking to the past and finding the answer was there all the time.

Elsie’s Music Exam

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 27 Sep 2015.

Below is a copy of Elsie Johnson’s 8th grade music final from 1910, Lake County, Indiana School District.  Music is taught today as an optional elective and the course title would be either Chorus, Band or Orchestra.  Classical composers aren’t usually covered, either, as “noted musicians.”

The music class content is extremely basic, much like is taught in our elementary curriculum today:

This is the last document I have on Elsie’s school experience.  In addition to the final exams I’ve published (Reading, Grammar, Math, Geography, History and Music) Elsie was tested on spelling and penmanship.

Ahh, penmanship.  In Florida, penmanship is no longer taught.  I’m sure, like many of you dear readers, you learned cursive using the Palmer method.  D’Nealian became in vogue in the 1990’s as it was a transition between printing and cursive.  In the last 5 years, cursive is no longer taught in elementary in Florida.  The reasoning is that keyboarding is more important, printing is more legible, there is less time due to the increase in rigor of core courses and a student can learn cursive on their own.  It will be interesting to see if signature lines disappear from documents when the present generation reaches adulthood!

Elsie’s History

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 24 Sep 2015.

Elsie Johnson was my husband’s maternal grandmother.  She graduated as an 8th grader in 1910 from the Hobart Township, Lake County, Indiana school district.  With the start of a new school year I’ve been posting her final exams and comparing education then to now – 105 years later.

In 8th grade today in Florida, students continue to study American History.  The difference is they have a whole lot more history to learn since Elsie’s day!  I was surprised to see that Elsie’s test only measured through the Colonial Period.  No American Revolution, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American War or Reconstruction.

Perhaps the focus on the French and Indian War was due to Indiana’s location.  Father Marquette and many fur traders were the earliest Europeans in Elsie’s region. I was surprised that Elsie’s answer to the cause of the French and Indian War was slavery.  Huh?  It wasn’t marked wrong, either. My answer would have been similar to that of today’s historians, “The war began because Britain felt they needed to prevent the French from gaining control over trade and territories that the British thought were rightfully theirs.1″

I believe that tension between France and Great Britain was even the primary reason noted back in Elsie’s day as I was recently reading a speech written for the American Centennial (1886) that was presented in Franklin, Pennsylvania and the author stated that the French, worried about the British moving farther west, had told local Native American tribes to distrust the settlers, thus causing attacks on homesteaders and thus began the war.

I was quite surprised to see a question (#2) regarding naming and locating 3 early colleges.  Eighth grade was the terminal year of education for most students in Indiana at the time.  Was this a way to encourage further education?  I laughed when I saw that question because that is something I currently do with my 7th and 8th graders but I require them to explore 20 colleges.  My thinking is it’s never too early to start post-secondary exploration!  

On page 2 of the exam Elsie writes “god” and it wasn’t corrected to show capitalization.  For awhile in the education world (early 1990’s), points were taken off if English usage wasn’t also correct. Clearly, the exam only measured the history curriculum.

1“The French & Indian War.” Ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.

Elsie’s Exams – A 1910 Geography Final

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 20 Sep 2015.

Elsie Johnson was an 8th grade student in Hobart Township, Lake County, Indiana in 1910.  My past several posts have been highlighting her state mandated final exams.  Today the focus is geography.

The test questions are glued to the upper left hand corner.  It appears that 8th graders were required to complete the 7th and 8th grade year questions.  I like that as retention of material presented in the previous year can be measured.

The continents of Africa and Australia were studied extensively in 7th grade.  The 8th grade test questions were determined by the teacher; please view the third test page for those responses.  In 8th grade, students studied South America and Asia.  How interesting Europe is barely mentioned, especially since many of Elsie’s generation would find themselves there in just a few years under the adverse circumstances of World War I!  I also find it odd that there is such a limited study of North America and no mention of Antarctica,

Geography is still taught in middle school today through Social Studies but recently in Florida, civics was incorporated into the 7th grade curriculum which cut out some Asia and Africa material.  Those lessons were transferred to high school.  Since Elsie terminated her education in 8th grade, she would not have learned those lessons today.

Of all the tests analyzed I have the most criticism for this one.  Question 7 hints at an answer for question 2.  Question 10 asks about tobacco.  My readers know that the dangers of tobacco use was a test question on Elsie’s Physiology exam.  I equate asking where tobacco was grown to asking today’s students where heroin is produced.  To test knowledge of export items I think other crops could have been selected.

My most surprising reaction was to item 9. I understand that the test was developed in 1910  but I still was shocked at asking students to classify people based on color. Was the objective to make geography “scientific” as in the world of science where one would classify species?  I don’t know.

Think about this – the test was administered during the Jim Crow, 45 years after the end of the Civil War.  It took another 50 years, the 1960’s, before this thought process began to change and yet we still classify students. Today, parents are asked if their children are Asian, Hispanic, Multi, Native American with Black and White remaining as options.

Genealogists know that the vast majority of our DNA is multi.  My blue eyed blonde hubby shows ancestry from Chad yet he would be classified as white.  I personally think it’s time to move past the labels.  I understand in the health world nationality can be important in identying serious health conditions that need to be addressed.  Yet, looking at someone’s skin tone could miss important information, such as sickle cell anemia or lack of Vitamin D absorption. Beyond health, there is no reason to be concerned with skin color.

As the world’s first melting pot, I think it’s time that the US moved beyond racial classification.  With the current changes taking place in Europe, I think the US needs to set this practice into a new direction. In 100 years from now what will the genealogical community say about us as a society?

1910 Indiana Science Test

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 17 Sep 2015.

The Back to Basics movement in the U.S. likes to emphasize the teaching of only Reading, Writing and Arithmetic as harkening back to early American education’s curriculum.  By the early 1900’s, however, Science, History, Geography and Music were also taught.  Today I’m going to share with you Elsie Johnson, my husband’s maternal grandmother’s 8th grade end of year Indiana state assessment in science. Evidently, the area of physiology was the curriculum focus.

In middle school today, physiology is a part of both science and health.  The exam questions were glued to the upper left hand corner of the exam:

Elsie’s answer to question 1 about smoking is:  “Tobacco dulls the mind and it affect the beating of the heart.” Wow!  I always heard that the dangers of smoking were not known until the 1960’s.  I remember when cigarette television commercials were banned. The tunes were so catchy we used to play “Cigarette Tag” as children during recess.  Someone was IT and IT chased all the players.  When a player was tagged the player had to sing a commercial cigarette jingle. Jingles couldn’t be repeated.  If the player couldn’t think of an original jingle than that player became IT.  Those songs are still stuck in my head!  “Winston tastes good like a (boom, boom) cigarette should,”  “I’d walk a mile for a Camel,” and Virginia Slims “You’ve come a long way baby, to get where you got to today.”  I never smoked so clearly the advertising didn’t win me over.

I’m not sure how Elsie received a 100% as she skipped answering question 2 about narcotics, which I really would have enjoyed reading.  Sadly, these problems still exist and we still teach the dangers in school today.

I have not included a chapter test on the skeleton which we also have.  Interestingly, the chapter test is in the same format as the end of year exam.  That’s important as the students were well aware of how the material would be presented and had practiced the format throughout the year.  Today, our students are taken to a computer lab to complete their end of course exams.  It’s the only time of the year that exams are given in that format which INMHO influences their score.  Next time we’ll take a look at Geography.

Elsie’s Exams Continued – 1910 Grammar Exam

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 13 Sep 2015.

Today in U.S. schools, Grammar is incorporated with writing, which along with reading, is taught through Language Arts in middle school and English in high school.  In the early 1900’s, however, Reading and Grammar were separate subjects.  Think of the old song,

School days, school days, 

Dear old golden rule days. 

‘Readin’ and ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic, 

Taught to the tune of a hick’ry stick.” 1

My husband’s maternal grandmother, Elsie Johnson, had an 8th grade final grammar exam that I would have difficulty completing as I don’t recall most of it.  The questions appear on the upper left hand corner of page one and were glued down.  Check out Elsie’s 3 page test:

Elsie would have been considered an English Language Learner (ELL) today.  Although born in the U.S., Elsie’s parents spoke primarily Swedish in the home and in her community.  Elsie attended a church that had services in her parents’ native tongue and many of the shop keepers in her small town of Miller spoke Swedish.  No special classes were offered to Elsie; she learned English through total immersion.

In the 1990’s, an educational movement occurred as a result of a dire prediction that students no longer wrote because of the increase usage of cell phones.  Hence, many states adopted a writing assessment in key grade levels to measure writing ability.  In Florida, that test was named Florida Writes and was given in grades 4, 8 and 10. Elsie’s short narrative about how she spent her Saturday reminds me of an 8th grade prompt from about 1999.  Certainly not original but it is a topic in which students can relate.  Clearly the prediction of the end of writing was unfounded.  Young people today prefer to text and tweet over making phone calls but I will give the movement credit as today’s messages are succinct!

Now that cursive handwriting isn’t taught either, concerned groups are bemoaning the next generation will be at a loss.  I disagree as I think would many genealogists – looking at writing styles from old records it is often nearly impossible to read what was written.  I much prefer students print neatly than use illegible cursive.  I do wonder what today’s children will do when they’re supposed to place their signature on the line and then print their name under it, such as when they’re getting a mortgage or purchasing a vehicle.  Maybe the signature line will be obsolete!

I expected to see diagramming on Elsie’s exam as that was part of our 8th grade grammar test.  My mom attended Lake County, Indiana schools in the 1920’s and 1930’s and had to learn to diagram. That means the curriculum change occurred sometime between 1910 and the mid 1920’s.  I had to do it in the 1960’s and 70’s but it was gone by the late 1980’s when my children started school.  Guess that comes and goes out of style, too!

Next time we’re going to take a look at Elsie’s science final.

1Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, “School Days” Web. 30 Aug. 2015.

Elsie’s Exams – An Indiana 8th Grade Reading Assessment from 105 Years Ago

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 6 Sep 2015.

Tests and schools go hand and hand.  Lately there has been much parent backlash regarding the number of and amount of time spent on school assessments.  The validity and reliability of the assessments are also an issue.  Last spring in my state, students were still completing their online state required end of course assessments when the legislature decided that the results couldn’t be used as they had not been normed.  Duh!  Teachers and administrators had been complaining about how unfair the tests were but no one listened until the 12th hour.

Another major educational concern is the use of a common core curriculum.  States rights advocates complain about Federal meddling.  Some educators complain that the common core doesn’t address what’s most important.

Personally, I’m over all of the testing requirements – it’s way too much and I wish politicians could witness the stress their mandates are causing children.  I’m glad I never had the pressure at 8 years old that today’s kids have.  For the past 15 years in Florida, if a child didn’t score high enough on a standardized test administered in the spring, the student can be retained even though the child had performed adequately all year in class.  For many students, the test was the first time he/she ever was given a test formatted in that particular way so the unfairness of the retention is even greater.

I truly am an advocate of a nationwide curriculum and testing program with regional elements added.  Genealogists know that families don’t stay in one place for long and transitioning for children is hard enough without having to adapt to a new curriculum.  I’m not saying every child in America should be on the same page in the same book every day.  Children learn at different rates; humans are not automated and differentiation is necessary and beneficial.  Comparing learning, however, does need to be uniform. When I first started teaching in Florida I was appalled at the standardized test questions that asked about tobogganing and ice skating.  Seriously, most of my students had no experience with northern winter weather.  How unfair!

My husband’s grandmother, Elsie Wilhelmina Johnson attended school in Lake County, Indiana in the first decade of the 20th century.  A first generation American with Swedish spoken at home, I am amazed at how well she performed academically.  We have copies of her graduation exams and they were tough!.  Take a look at the testing rules:

cover-sheet

Rule 10 states that a student needs a 75% on the exam AND classwork above 60% to pass for the year.  A 60% today equates to a grade of F so in Elsie’s day, good test takers who slacked throughout the school year could pass.  We had that problem in middle school and the way our district fixed it was that students had to gain a minimum of 2 points a semester, which at the lowest, is two D’s. Prior to the change we had darlings getting an A first grading period and then failing the next 3 grading periods.  The old rule was a student must earn 4 points a year in a subject to pass and the A equaled 4 points.  Our rule change eliminated slackers.

Elsie’s exams were for completion of the 8th grade which was the highest grade she attended.  High School was available through 12th grade but was not mandatory.  Exams, though, were state mandated with the final test question “to be determined” by the local district.  Wish we still did that today!  This would allow for local differences yet still give educators a better idea of how a child had progressed in comparison with a broader group.

When I first began to teach I was a reading teacher so Elsie’s reading tests are of particular interest to me.  My husband and I attended school in the 1970’s in the same district as Elsie and we did not read the selections on her exam until high school.  In Florida, only Don Quxiote is still read and that is at the high school level:

rdg-final

Elsie’s reading test was in two parts.  Here’s the 2nd section:

rdg

I particularly like how the reading selections crossed curriculum areas, Pilgrim’s Progress with US History, Burn’s with science and Longfellow with philosophy.   In that case, the crafty teacher could have easily taught reading through the other core classes.

It appears that Elsie had one teacher all day who taught all lessons.  WOW! This would certainly not occur today unless it was through a homeschool environment.  Teachers are prohibited from having to develop more than 3 different plans for levels or classes.

Think also of how much time was saved in not having students transition from room to room.  Five minutes passing time for 7 periods would save 30 minutes a day!

Next time we’ll look at Elsie’s math…

The Nonexistent Genealogical Record

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 23 Aug 2015.

This past week I had several interesting situations occur that really drove home to me the connection between education and genealogy.

The first was an email from my division superintendent that requested everyone bring a photo of their high school graduation to post as a visual reminder of our district’s goal of increasing high school graduation rates.  Problem is, I don’t have a grad photo.  If you’re one of my loyal readers you know my parents were divorced when I was young.  I attended 1st through 11th grade in the Lake County, Indiana school district where my mom and I lived with my grandparents.  In June of my rising senior year I sat for senior picture; the custom at that time was girls had to wear a crew neck grey top- no mortar boards.  I have a copy of the photo which never appeared in a school yearbook because in August, my mother, who was employed by Montgomery Wards Department Stores, which was then owned by Mobil Oil, was given a transfer to Florida.  Mom gave me the option of going with her or moving in with my dad and step-mother to complete my senior year in Indiana.  Either way, I would have had to attend a different high school so I opted to move to Florida.

My first day of my senior year at St. Petersburg High School was a disaster.  I had to retake classes I had already passed because Pinellas County Schools did not have a work-study program that I was scheduled to take in Indiana. They wouldn’t let me attend school part time, either.  I had wanted to work my senior year to save money for college so that goal was shot.  In addition, no one spoke to me the entire day, even when I asked for directions.  I came home that evening and announced that I was quitting school.  My mother insisted I return so the next morning we met with the guidance counselor.  I don’t remember his name but I remember his complete lack of concern.  He suggested I enroll in a school for drop outs where I could complete assignments at my own pace and hold a job.  My mom drove me to the new school.  As we entered there was a fist fight in the hall and we had trouble getting into the office.  No adults were around although this was adult education.  I only needed 3 classes to graduate but the school only allowed enrolling in 2 classes at a time.  I finished senior English and Business Math in two weeks.  I then enrolled in Americanism vs. Communism.  Back in the day, the state of Florida was fairly certain Fidel Castro was going to storm the shores so every Florida senior had to be prepared by taking this ridiculous course.  Even though I finished the actual course work in another 2 weeks I was forced to sit for the entire school day in the class for an additional two weeks as there was a requirement that students must be enrolled for a certain number of hours.  The teacher was kind and told me I could bring anything quiet to do so I read a book a day.  No one spoke to me at this school either.  At the time, doctors, judges and other leaders in the community were so afraid that their children would become drug addicts that they enrolled them in a now defunct program called “The Seed.”  Anyone enrolled was not permitted to speak with anyone outside of the group.  The organization decided to enroll all of their students at the adult ed program probably because there would be less opportunity to interact with other teens.  I completed my entire senior year in 6 weeks.  When I went to the school counselor to turn in my completion paperwork she informed me the district would mail my diploma to me by the end of the semester (which they did but spelled my name wrong which is another story).

I never had a graduation ceremony so I never wore a cap and gown which is why I don’t have any pictures to contribute.  Hubby offered to photo shop my senior pic to add a mortar board but I nixed that idea.  I don’t want to fake history.  I submitted a photo of my college graduation instead.

Technically, I’m a high school graduate as I had the diploma conferred to me via US Mail but since this didn’t occur with pomp and circumstance I have no photo.  Several of my co-workers did attend a graduation ceremony but it wasn’t a custom to take a picture of the diploma being conferred so they don’t have pictures, either.

I think the practice of taking a picture as the diploma is being awarded must have occurred in my area after the early 1980’s.  My bachelor’s and first master’s degree photos were taken by my mom and husband.  By the time I received my second masters in the 90’s, photographers were on stage snapping away during the ceremony.  By the 2000’s you could get the whole event on DVD.

My point is you may be looking for a record or photo that doesn’t exist because it was never recorded. Next time you’re searching for that wedding photo or birth certificate think about the possibility that it never was!  This will save you time and frustration – just look for an alternative, like the marriage license of a baptism certificate.  In my case, I have the transcripts and diploma – just no picture.

Education Across State Lines

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 20 Aug 2015.

Education was extremely important to my Leininger lines and I have an interesting story to share about my gateway 3 times great grandparents, Jean “John” (20 Nov 1801-1 Dec 1868) and Margueritte “Margaret” Gasse (27 Jan 1801-4 Apr 1886) Leininger who emigrated from Endenhoffr, Alsace-Lorraine, then Germany to America in 1827.  Previously, I’ve blogged about what a difficult trip it must have been for the family but the following story illustrates how quickly they acclimated to the “rules” of America and bent them for the benefit of their children.

The family emigrated with 2 sons – Theobald and John George.  Settling in Stark County, Ohio the family grew, adding sons John and Jacob.  In 1835, the family relocated to Mercer County, Ohio.  GGGgrandpa opted for a career change from blacksmithing to farming.  Sons Henry and Samuel were born after the move.  On July 1, 1839, John purchased 128.60 acres of land in Wabash Township, Jay County, Indiana with an additional 8 acres of land on the adjoining Ohio side.  John then built a home across the state line. This benefited the family greatly as they could easily relocate from Ohio to Indiana and back to Ohio without ever leaving their home.  They simply moved their furniture from one side of the house to the other.  Why would someone do this?  Family lore says it’s because of the variation in educational opportunities.  When the school teacher left Mercer, the children could easily continue schooling in Jay, and vice versa.  Personally, I think this was ingenious and says so much about how the family valued education.  They were in the forefront of the School Choice movement!

I’d love to visit the home but it was destroyed by fire in 1970.

My dad pulled the same stunt in the 1960’s.  His farm was on the county lines of both Lake and Porter in Indiana.  He preferred the Porter County school district so my step sibs were sent to Porter County schools. Technically, the house was built on the Lake County side so I’m not sure how he got away with it.

My great great grandfather, Jacob Leininger (11 Nov 1832-Jul 1908), served as town trustee and a long term school board member in Mercer County, Ohio.  I guess he preferred the Ohio to the Indiana schools after he grew up!

My great grandmother, Emma Kuhn Landfair (20 Jun 1864-21 Feb 1914) and grandmother, Lola Landfair Leininger (27 Apr 1891-30 Jan 1964) were teachers for a short time before their marriages.  School must have been important to them as they saved their remembrance cards and all of my dad’s report cards.

john-d-kable

The above school Souvenir was for my grandmother Lola’s 1st grade year.  Her teacher, John D. Kable, would become her 2nd cousin through her marriage to my grandfather, Edwin Leininger. Edwin’s parents were Theobald Leininger, son of Jacob the School Board member and Caroline Kable. Caroline’s brother, John, had a son, John, who was the teacher at Wild Cat School (above).

My grandparents were in the same class – Eddie Leininger (1st column # 1) and Lola misspelled as Lora (2nd column #16):

eddie-leininger

My husband and I are high school sweethearts.  It’s an awesome thought to think that my grandparents were grade school sweethearts!

leininger-landfair-wedding

All grown and graduated, Eddie and Lola (above) married in 1914.

The Bakers-Kuhns-Landfairs-Leiningers all intermarried for several generations so many of the classmates were also related.

wm-kuhn

In 1904, William Kuhn was on the School Board:

William Kuhn was my grandmother, Lola Landfair Leininger’s uncle.

Below, School Board member Henry Bollenbacher was another relative – he was my grandfather Edwin’s 2nd cousin:

henry-bollenbacher

It’s an amazing thought to reflect on the amount of impact the Leininger line had on education at the turn of the last century!

Student Discipline

Originally published in genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 16 Aug 2015.

Just as teachers had rules in the 19th century, so did students.  What was inappropriate in the 1800’s is mostly considered inappropriate today.  What differs is the punishment method used to correct the misdeed.  Schools have banned lashing/swatting/spanking.  I used to get my hands slapped with a ruler and I ducked once when the principal tried to slap me in 5th grade due to being mouthy, though what I said that was inappropriate I have no recollection of.  We didn’t have a cafeteria so we had to eat lunch in our classroom and milk monitors would be selected to bring in the pre-ordered milk cartons for the class.  I was monitor of the day and talking while the principal was counting out milk cartons.  As she went to slap me I ducked and she hit the girl standing next to me who let out a wail like the world was ending.  The best part of the story is that the girl was a real brat whose mom was very active in the school so the girl typically got away with murder.  The principal was so upset that she immediately hugged the child and took her to the office to get her ice.  I escaped back to class with our milk and for some reason, never got called back to the office to be disciplined.  I actually became a class hero when the story got around.

Back in 1872, the following was considered inappropriate student behavior, just as it is now:

Fighting/Quarreling/Wrestling

Lying/Telling Tales

Swearing/Name Calling

Gambling/Betting

Drinking Liquor

Wetting each other when washing (yep, water fights in the                           bathroom are still a big deal!)

Mischief Making (spitting, vandalizing, littering, being noisy)

Tree climbing over 3 feet (don’t think we have a height limit –                     tree climbing totally prohibited)

Leaving campus

What differs is that in our country, boys and girls are now permitted to play together which was an offense in 1872.  I’m not sure why making swings and swinging on them was prohibited but I suspect it was more of a liability issue for the school than bad behavior on the part of the student.  Maybe it was tied in with not climbing trees.  Reminds me that some districts today have banned Dodge Ball and Red Rover due to student injuries.

Wearing long nails was also a no-no but could be considered a distraction or weapon today so that still may be applicable.  Back in the day coming to school with dirty face and hands would be considered a punishment for the student but if it was often, today it probably would warrant a call to Child Protective Services.

In 1872, students could be disciplined for misbehaving on the road.  Until recently, my school district couldn’t discipline a child for an infraction committed off campus – such as at the bus stop.  That’s recently changed, however, with the advent of bullying via social media.  A student may have texted/posted something inappropriate outside of school but since it’s viewable at school, school personnel can now address it.

What’s most interesting is that kids have made poor choices for a very long time.  I didn’t get into much trouble in school because I knew I would disappoint my mom and I that would have been a horrible punishment for me.  My mom told a story of stealing a box of crayons when she was in first grade.  She knew it was wrong but wanted to make a picture for her mother so she snuck them out of the classroom one Friday afternoon.  As soon as she got outside the guilt overcame her and she vomited.  The teacher came to assist her and my mom confessed.  After cleaning her up the school sent her home with three packs of crayons, extras for her two younger siblings.  Her teacher told her if she ever needed anything to just ask next time.  That nameless teacher made a tremendous difference by teaching a valuable life lesson in a kind way.  Teachers do the same every day every year often without seeing the positive results.  Developing good people is more important, to me, than any other curricula that a school tries to instill.  As teachers in my school district return to work tomorrow for a few days of planning and training before students arrive the following week, I hope the realize the impact they have on their students.  It’s an awesome responsibility not only to the individual student, but to the future!