The following text was transcribed from chapters on the history of education in individual Kansas counties found on pages 115-117 in:
PITTSBURG PUBLIC SCHOOLS -- Crawford county, Kansas, in which the city of Pittsburg is located, was organized on the 15th day of April, 1867, but not until the winter of 1876-77 was the town of Pittsburg laid out and platted. The building of the Girard & Joplin railroad (since become a branch of the "Frisco") was the immediate cause of the laying out of the town. School district No.49, which now comprises the city of Pittsburg and vicinity, was organized in the early days of January, 1877, being the last official act of A. J. Georgia, the retiring county superintendent of public instruction.
During the summer of 1877, the first school building was erected in the town, at a cost of $1,200. It was a wooden structure, two stories high, 28 feet by 40 feet, and is now known as the Fifth Street building. In 1884, an eight-room brick building was erected, but was sold and torn down in 1888, and a beautiful 12-room building erected in its stead, known as the Granby building. In 1887, the high-school building was erected, which gave the city eight additional rooms, besides the high-school rooms. In 1891, two four-room brick buildings were erected, so that at the present time the city has 32 schoolrooms, and the board of education is now planning to erect a central high-school building on the site of the old wooden Fifth Street building. Each building is well equipped with all the modern school appliances and illustrative apparatus.
The first term of school, of eight months, upon the organization of the district, was taught by Mr. A. J. Georgia, who had an average attendance of 26. The second term of school was taught by Thomas Van Anda, who was followed by D. Hollinger, two years; C. E. Cory, two years; A. M. Bogle and Clara Cunningham, one year; and Howard Gates, one year. On the completion of the eight-room brick building, in 1884, S. W. Black was elected principal, and in served three years. During the last year of Mr. Black's administration, the city was incorporated as a city of the second class, and he became its first city superintendent. In the year 1887, Mr. D. E. Pence was elected to the position of city superintendent, and served three years, when he was superseded by Mr. C. M. Light, who is now serving his second year.
From the date of the organization of the city, in the year 1880, when there was but one teacher required, the number of teachers has been increased to 32, the present number now employed. Nine of our teachers are graduates of normal schools, and five others have taken special work to prepare themselves for their chosen class of work. For the special and general improvement of the teachers, two classes of teachers' meetings are held. Grade meeting are held every two weeks, for the purpose of comparing work and discussing the best methods of presenting each topic. General meetings are held once a month, at which the following program is carried out: Current events; recitation upon an educational classic which the teachers are reading; developing lessons and class exercises; drills in special branches of instruction; papers upon the history of education; 20-minutes lectures by representative men of the city, etc.
The people of Pittsburg feel somewhat flattered at the general progress of their schools. Within 11 years the enrollment has increased from less than 100, to more than 1,800 pupils at the present time. The board of education and the superintendents have labored hard to have the schools keep pace with our rapidly-growing city. The construction of new buildings and the organization of new departments, the transitory residence of the people, and the employment of many new teachers whose teaching ability was untried, are some of the difficulties with which the authorities have contended. The present board, having taken advanced steps in educational matters, has in large measure overcome these difficulties. The present superintendent has had their hearty cooperation in everything that has tended to make the schools a success. Teachers' wages have been increased, and none but those who were known to possess unusual teaching and governing ability have been employed this year. A course of instruction and a teachers' manual have been issued, and are giving each teacher valuable aid along her particular line of work.
We have good reasons to believe the best and the most scientific modern methods of instruction are used in the schools of Pittsburg. Thoroughness is the watch-word in every school. Pupils do everything understandingly, and are then drilled upon these acquirements until they become fixed in the mind. A few suggestions on reading, numbers and geography will give the reader a hint at the methods employed: Reading is taught by the phonic and script method. In the lower grades but little concert reading is permitted, naturalness of expression being secured by the pupil's own individual effort. Pupils are not allowed to read until they thoroughly master the words and understand the selection. Imitative reading is almost wholly confined to the upper grades, where difficult selections are to be rendered. The combinations of numbers are first taught through objects; second, through the symbols, when they are fixed in the memory so thoroughly that the combination is recognized as quickly as the result itself; third, numbers are applied in practical problems, careful attention being given to the forms of expression, both in symbols and in good English. Geography is taught in every grade, and consists of a primary course and a text-book course; the former consisting of field observations, the development of terms, and local geography; the latter being supplemented by information and observation lessons. Map drawing and map molding are used throughout the course, and every other device to help the child to form a proper concept of the country so studied.
The pupils of the public schools have access to a large circulating library, and our buildings are well supplied with the dictionaries and encyclopedias. A professional library, consisting of about 100 volumes, belonging to the teachers of the city, is maintained at the superintendent's office.
Our course of study begins the elements of all the sciences in the primary schools, and completes them in an elementary way in the high school. Each oral and test-book exercise is carefully graded to suit the age and mental development of the pupils. The following branches constitute the course in the grades: Reading, writing, numbers, geography, spelling, form and drawing, physiology, history and biography, language, literature, music, physical culture, morals and manners, and a course in general reading. The high-school courses are as follows:
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