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Persons holding certificates averaging less than 86 per cent who have had one year's experience and have attended one normal institute are admitted to the C grade, also persons who have never held certificates but are gradaates of high schools. Those who complete the studies in this grade, pass an examination and make an average of 85 per cent, receive certificates of promotion to the B grade.
The D grades includes all persons not included in the three preceding grades, and those completing the studies in this grade passing an examination and making an average of 80 per centare granted certificates of promotion to the C grade.
The aim in this county has been to make teaching a profession, and that only thorough scholars can become professional teachers. A poor scholar may teach a good school, but if this same person had a good education he would teach a much better school.
The real aim in the last two years has been to make the instituto more professional, to pay more attention to methods, yet much of the time must necessarily be spent in reviewing the common branches, and this cannot very well be changed as long as teachers are allowed to teach who are only seventeen years old.
This county has a large institute fund, and therefore can employ the best talent. I believe that many teachers in the State receive Institute diplomas who are really not entitled to diplomas. It is my opinion that no teacher should receive a normal institute diploma who cannot pass an examination for a State certificate. In this county all the graduates have either been graduates of the Iowa State Normal or some college or high school, with perhaps one exception. Successful experience and thorough scholarship are the essential requisites for a diploma. The teacher who holds a diploma should at all times be ready to pass an examination for a first-class certificate in any county of the State.
If county superintendents would not issue a diploma unless they knew positively that the teacher to whom it is granted could pass a rigid examination in any county of the State and obtain a first-class certificate, then these diplomas would be recognized as something of real value. But when from thirty to fifty teachers receive diplomas at an institute it is patent on the face that there are some in the class who cannot obtain a first-class certificate in every county of the State.
Three school houses were built during the last year, one of which is a fine two-story building in the village of Hudson. We have two school buildings in this county heated by steam, viz: one in West Waterloo and one in Cedar Falls.
The fuel in this county is soft coal, with a few exceptions where wood is used.
Two school houses, one in East Waterloo township and one in Bennington township, have windows only on one side and then on the ends, the children facing the side where there are no windows. I like this arrangement much better than where the light comes from both sides and the children facing the end.
As a rule the teachers take much care to have the room well ventilated, yet many school houses are poorly arranged for ventilation. In our country school houses, windows and doors are the only means by which the school rooms can be ventilated. Nearly all of our school rooms are well seated, some few in the country even having single seats.
Many of our school grounds are much neglected, yet there seems to be a tendency on the part of school officers to keep the grounds in better condition than in years past. The same is also true of out-houses.
Fences are much dilapidated, and in many localities there are no fences. Cattle are not allowed to run at large in this county, which has created a sentiment against fences.
There are not many school grounds in this county where the required number of trees are in healthy condition. The trees as a rule have been planted, but through neglect or inattention have either died or been destroyed. If 1 am re-elected shall call attention to this matter of planting trees early in the spring. Very few trees were planted last spring on arbor day, as it was at least three weeks too late to plant trees. Deciduous trees should be planted very early in the spring.
During the last year there has been a tendency in this county in some townships to shorten the terms.
There is only one township where they bave nine months of school in the year. Seven months is generally the average in our county schools; four in the winter and three in the spring.
The drouth of this summer will have a tendency to lower the salary of teachers; in fact it has already done so.
All the common branches are generally taught, but of all branches language is neglected more than anything else.
Much attention has lately been given to penmanship and drawing.
Every school in the county substantially complies with the law in regard to the teaching of hygienic physiology.
Welch's Classification Register has been introduced into all the ungraded schools of the county. But there is some difficulty in getting reports from the teachers.
Teachers should be compelled by law to report to the county superintendent at the close of each term of school.
Educational interest and enthusiasm seem to be in a very promising condition in this county; our teachers, as a rule, are bright, progressive students, and take a live interest in everything in the line of improvement. During the past year six meetings of the Buena Vista County Educational Association have been held; two at Storm Lake, one at Alta, one at Newell, one at Sioux Rapids, one at Early, and the attendance at all of them has been such as to convince one of the abiding interest of our teachers and the general public in everything that has for its object the mental improvement of our pupils. Three joint meetings Lave been held with other counties, two with Sac and one with Clay, at which valuable programmes have been carried out to the mutual advantage of all parties. We are under lasting obligations to the superintendent and teachers of Sac county for the very cordial treatment we received at Early, and feel that we have been largely benefited by contact with them in the discussion of school matters. The meeting with Clay occurred just after a heavy rain storm, which prevented many of the Clay teachers from attending; about twenty braved the storm and muddy roads and made us happy at Sioux Rapids. We are following a graded course of study in our country schools, with fair success, nine townships using it in all of their schools, and it is in general use in the other seven. In connection with the course of study we use Welch's Classification Register, and endeavor to give pupils credit for all good work, as well as to put poor work on record ; this acts as an incentive to better and closer application, and we are securing good results. Certificates of promotion are given to pupils completing the First, Second, Third and Fourth Reader grades, and county diplomas granted to those completing the Fifth Reader grade and passing an examination with a grade of 85 per cent., with no study below 70 per cent. Thus far we have granted 27 county diplomas. Second grade certificates are issued to bearers of diplomas without further examination, upon payment of the regular fee.
Teachers report to county superintendent all standings of pupils during the term, thus placing in our office a record of all pupils in school in this county.
Reports are also made to the parent at the end of each week, the leading features of which art, regularity, punctuality, grades, rank in class, and general behavior. Thus we unite parent, teacher and superintendent in the effort for the educational benefit of our pupils.
Professional, first and second grade certificates, are issued to our teach
We have no use for third grades, deeming it best for persons who cannot obtain a grade of eighty per cent to attend some good school until they are better prepared for work.
In our institute work we endeavor to secure the same systematic arrangement of duties that is required in teaching. A graded course of study of three divisions is followed, and a fourth will be added as soon as possible. As a large number of our teachers come from the ranks of the common school pupils we endeavor to pay more attention to the teaching of methods than subject matter, and calculate to give the aspirant for pedagogical position as much professional training as possible under the circumstances. As a criticism upon the institute work we would suggest that too much time is wasted in preparing or attempting to prepare persons to pass the examinations, and would urge that they be allowed to do this work in school, rather than spend the time in the normal institute in doing what sbould have been a previous consideration.
Great improvement is being made in the plans of our school houses; many of the old ones were poorly built, ill lighted, and without any arrange ment for ventilation, These defects are being remedied, and the little school buildings that are being erected now have good, solid foundations, handy balls and clothes rooms and comfortable assembly rooms.
We are poorly supplied with apparatus, but directors are pretty generally yielding to the demands for more supplies.
School sites are usually as good as could be expected ; care is taken to get good, high ground, and as near to the center of the district as possible; most of them have trees planted all the way around, and some few have ornamental trees inside of the boundary lines ; still, others have no improvement in this line at all.
A general disposition is being manifested to lengthen the school term, and most of the townships are having seven and a half and eigbt months school. Teachers receive from $25 to $35 per month in our country schools, and from $35 to $125 per month in graded city schools. Our courses of study cover all of the common branches, and the elements of science, Latin and German being taught only in the High School of Storm Lake.
The law on special physiology is being pretty generally complied with, and as our county is so much in favor of prohibition, good work is being done.
The Hawkeye Business College, founded in 1884, is the only institution in the county that affords thorough practical instruction in the normal and business branches, and is doing a good work. Students are thoroughly drilled in all the common branches in addition to the work in bookkeeping, penmanship, business arithmetic and commercial law. Much attention is given to rapid calculation and actual business practice, thus giving pupils & good start on the road to success in life.
BY J. F. LAVENDER.
1. CONDITION AND PROGRESS OF EDUCATION IN THE COUNTY.
During the last year the school work of our county has been a "path" rather than a “tread-mill."
Teachers, school officers and patrons have all been zealous in good works.
Our last institute was an eminent success in every respect. There was & gain in attendance of nearly 40 per cent over any previous year. Teachers are reading more of every kind of professional literature.
A course of study and a classification register has been placed in every school in the county. Teachers have heartily co-operated with the superintendent to improve the organization and classiication of the schools of the county. Good results are already noticeable.
A want of uniformity of text-books is the greatest obstacle to completo
II. TEACHERS' NORMAL INSTITUTE.
The course of study arranged by the “Advisory Council” of the State Department of Education was adopted two years ago. A class graduated at our last institute.
6. What we seek to accomplish.
Our aim is to not only give the teachers a broader scholarship and working models for the school-room, but to ground them in the principles that underlie all true methods of instruction and culture.
Our method has been to teach the general principles of methods of culture, methods of instruction and school management, and vitalize them in regular class drill in assigned lessons in the subject matter” embraced in the common school course.
d. General and special features.
Drawing, the rudiments of vocal music, and the school law of Iowa will receive special attention at our coming institute.