April 29, 2019

Expectations for public school teachers across our great nation continue to become more and more complex and demanding. As demanding as we may feel things have become, little has changed over the years in the level of expectations of our teachers. I ran across a teacher contract from 1923 and it was quite entertaining. Teachers only had to adhere to 13 rules. Keep in mind this was less than 100 years ago. The language of this contract is included below:

 

This is an agreement between Miss ___________ teacher, and the Board of Education of the ___________ School, whereby Miss____________ agrees to teach in the ______________ School for a period of eight months, beginning September 1, 1923. The Board of Education agrees to pay Miss ___________ the sum of $75 per month. Miss ___________ agrees.

  1. Not to get married. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher marries.
  2. Not to keep company with men.
  3. To be at home between the hours of 8pm and 6am unless in attendance at school functions.
  4. Not to loiter in downtown ice-cream stores.
  5. Not to leave town at any time without the permission of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
  6. Not to smoke cigarettes. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher is found smoking.
  7. Not to drink beer, wine or whiskey. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher is found drinking beer, wine or whiskey.
  8. Not to ride in a carriage or automobile with any man except her brother or father.
  9. Not to dress in bright colors.
  10. Not to dye her hair.
  11. To wear at least two petticoats.  
  12. Not to wear dresses more than two inches above the ankle.
  13. To keep the schoolroom clean:
    1. To sweep the classroom floor at least once daily.
    2. To scrub the classroom floor with hot water and soap at least once weekly.
    3. To clean the blackboard at least once daily.
    4. To start the fire at 7am so the room will be warm at 8am when the children arrive.

 

This contract may seem unrealistic in today’s world, but there is much to reflect upon when comparing teachers from 1923 to present day teachers. Patrons within communities have always expected teachers to be upstanding citizens and to model appropriate behaviors to children who look up to them. Teachers do so much more than teach…they are heros and role models. They make a difference, one child at a time. They bring hope, encouragement, and the ability to dream beyond the four walls of the classroom, transforming the lives of students and the communities in which they live. These responsibilities have stayed constant since 1923 and will continue for many years to come.    

Next week (May 6-10) is Teacher Appreciation Week. We truly appreciate the meaningful work our teachers do every day. A school district is only as strong as the good people who dedicate their careers to help mold our students into future productive citizens. The accomplishments of our teachers are celebrated in classrooms all across our district. I am reminded every single day that St. James’ teachers are dedicated to the success of each and every child. They provide hope to the most needy young children in our community. They provide stability in attitude and attention to every detail of a child’s life and they understand the profound influence they have on the lives of kids. St. James R-I School District’s teachers are meaningful partners in the rearing of our community’s children. On behalf of the school board and the community of St. James, it is my privilege to extend a heartfelt message of gratitude for the work our teachers do. It is true that teaching is a calling, not a profession, and I am so honored that our teachers have chosen St. James R-I School District as a place to make a difference in the lives of our children. I encourage our community and school district to join me in appreciating our teachers next week and in the weeks and years to come!