Sunday, May 27, 2007

'Springfield Present & Prospective, Educational Institutions' (Pond & Campbell, 1905)

Title/contents page

Educational Institutions

It is a matter of record that, in June, 1679, the town of Springfield contracted with Thomas Stebbins, Jr., to build a schoolhouse for the sum of fourteen pounds, or seventy dollars in terms of present currency. In September, 1898, this same community of Springfield opened to her youth a high school, whose cost, including land, building and equipment reached a total of four hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

While such comparison does not discredit the zeal of the early fathers for popular education, it does show the readiness of Springfield to spend in generous measure for her schools, and indicates how great have been the changes in organization and method since the time of the seventeen-by-twenty-two-foot schoolhouse built by Thomas Stebbins, Jr.

In the early days no special committee had charge of the work of popular education. At town meetings and in the sessions of selectmen, questions relating to teachers, pupils and school buildings were considered and settled. The need of direct supervision was afterwards met by the organization of school districts, each under the care of a local committee. But the district system did not make for progress. Petty jealousies and neighborhood quarrels divided the town and set district in opposition to district. Thus a high school, opened in 1827, closed its doors from 1839 to 1841 because of opposition from the outlying parts of town. A superintendent of schools, the first officer of the kind in Massachusetts, was appointed in 1840, and again divided public opinion compelled the abolition of this office after something like a year's trial.

Meanwhile the State, under the leadership of Horace Mann, was calling for a more efficient conduct of schools and for higher standards of instruction. In response to these demands the town began to consider the placing of all control in the hands of a central committee.

After much discussion the abolition of the district system was brought to pass in 1855. With this date and under the policy then inaugurated begins the modern school department of Springfield.

Next in logical order was the appointment of a superintendent of schools. The growth of the city, the increase of school attendance and the multiplication of buildings made it possible for the committee to look after the details of school administration. Neither could any lines of progress or betterment laid down. After the usual period of discussion and agitation the office of superintendent of schools was created and measures were taken to place the educational system of the city in charge of an expert, elected by and responsible to the school committee.

Since 1865, when Mr. E. A. Hubbard, the first superintendent, took up his duties, the city school system has made steady and permanent advance. For this progress the city is in large measure indebted to the tact and leadership of the men to whom she has given in trust the care of her public schools. Under Mr. Hubbard, from 1865 to 1873, many of the older style grammar schools, such as the Barrows and Hooker buildings, were erected. New methods of instruction were introduced. The high school grew in numbers and finally called for a new home. This was provided by the erection of a building now used by the State street grammar school. By careful selection the personnel of the teaching force was improved. Coherence and unity were given to the school system. Public confidence was secured and found expression in generous appropriations.

Superintendent Admiral P. Stone extended and perfected the work of organization. In his annual reports he brought before the people the vital facts of the schools. his term of service, 1873 to 1888, was a time of financial depression in the country at large and of reduced appropriations in the city. Mr. Stone by his ability in organization did much to bring the schools uninjured through this trying experience.

Dr. Thomas Balliet assumed charge of the schools in April, 1888. He brought to his task a broad and thorough training in the philosophy of education and a mastery of the best methods of instruction. His inspiration and influence soon made themselves felt on teachers, committee and community. New lines of development were opened to meet the social and economic needs of the city. Kindergartens were placed on a permanent basis. The practical spirit of the time showed itself in the opening of cooking schools for both day and evening classes. Elementary evening schools were improved and extended and an evening high school established. With clear understanding of the city's industrial needs, Doctor Balliet encouraged the development of the manual training course. In 1898, a Mechanic Arts high school was organized. This institution is now known as Technical high school, and is intended to join academic training with courses in shop work and applied science. An evening school of trades was opened in connection with this department of instruction.

Material equipment made rapid advances during the period from 1888 to 1904. Over a million dollars were spent on school buildings and among these are many that are recognized as among the best examples of school architecture in the country.

In May, 1904, Doctor Balliet resigned his position to enter on his work as dean of the School of Pedagogy in New York university. His successor, Mr. Wilbur F. Gordy, was chosen in June, 1904. Mr. Gordy's long and successful experience in school duties and his understanding of the practical problems of education insure the maintenance of the high standards of Springfield and a continued progress along right lines. The community has already given Mr. Gordy its confidence and looks on him as worthy to wear the mantle of his high office.

This brief historical sketch shows that in the half-century since the schools of Springfield were brought under one system of management, notable results in popular education have been secured. While there has been general advance in all lines of instruction, this city has certain characteristics that have given it a unique reputation in the land. A prime cause of the excellence of the schools is the intelligent interest of the people in education. School men and citizens are one in purpose to maintain the schools in the most efficient condition. The community has always been able to command the service of strong men and women for its school committee. The committee has wisely granted large powers to the superintendent and has not embarrassed him by needless limitations in the appointment of teachers or in the planning of courses in instruction. Politics and personal or partisan influence have never found an abiding place in the council of the school board. Hence in selecting teachers the only question is fitness for duties of the position to be filled. Incompetent or inefficient teachers are not retained.

The spirit and morale of the teaching body is not unusual. Personal interest in the children and care for needs of the individual have come to be traditions of the service. There is a fine enthusiasm in their work and an active interest in promoting the well-being of the community at large. As a result of the excellence of the Springfield schools and the strength of her instructors there has been an increasing tendency on the part of other cities to seek for candidates among the ranks of the local teachers. Too often these attempts have been successful. On the other hand it is worthy of note that loyalty to Springfield has led many teachers to remain, even at some financial sacrifice.

In her educational policy, Springfield has always sought to give abundant room for individual initiative and has never hampered her teachers by petty restrictions. Routine details have been minimized. The demand has been for the impress of the personality of the instructor on the plastic nature of the child. Work under such conditions is sure to attract and hold men and women filled with the true spirit of the teacher.

The same consideration for the needs of the child is shown in methods and courses of study. One illustration from the policy of the high schools will make clear the Springfield policy. While many boys and girls are fitted for college each year and sent to a large number of different institutions of learning, the methods of instruction and curriculum are not dominated by the requirements for admission to the college. Rather is regard had to the best general training of the youth, in science, language, mathematics, history and art. Commercial and technical courses rank on an equality with college preparatory work. The high school maintains its own individuality and independence. Yet no schools rank better in standing with the colleges and the success of Springfield graduates in higher institutions and the many distinctions that fall to them show that education for general efficiency brings in the long run better results than special preparation for an examination.

Another characteristic of Springfield's educational system is the emphasis laid on practical studies. In this respect the city has shown a progressive spirit and open-minded attitude. For many years instruction has been given in cooking, sewing, and drawing, both free-hand and mechanical. Manual training is thoroughly taught in the grammar grades, and finds its culmination in the excellent courses of the Technical high school in wood and metal work, and in the evening school of trades with its provisions for instruction in various skilled industries.

With the increase of the foreign-born population there has come demand for increased facilities in evening schools to teach elementary branches. Such schools are maintained in the Elm street building and at Indian Orchard. In 1904, there was a total enrollment in these schools of 1,430. All the evening classes, including the high school, evening draughting, free-hand drawing and trades school, gave a total enrollment of 2,421 students.

Practical studies are given a large place in the evening high school and the classes in bookkeeping, arithmetic, stenography, typewriting and laboratory work in science are well attended. While the Central high school holds firmly to the idea of general as opposed to special training, opportunities are given for a commercial education. The ready demand for high school graduates by business men testifies to the value of the instruction in both academic and technical subjects. Yearly more positions are offered than there can be found graduates to fill.

In this connection attention is called to the growth and development of the Technical high school. The experimental stage of manual training lasted from 1886 to 1898. At first the courses were mainly in the grammar grades, but in 1896 a four-years' course was established in connection with the Central high school. In 1898 an independent school of secondary grade, known as the Mechanic Arts high school, was organized. In May, 1904, the name was changed to Technical high school. The school for a long time occupied rented quarters in the Springfield Industrial institute at Winchester Park but a fine building is now under construction on Elliott street at a cost of over $300,000, and planned to provide large facilities for instruction in academic and technical studies. Courses in home economics and domestic science will be given in this school. The building will accommodate nine hundred pupils.

The practical side of education is kept in due subordination to the claims of general culture. Such studies as free-hand drawing and music have been recognized in the curriculum of all grades. In the Central high school, classes in music analysis and harmony mark an advanced line of study, and have received special mention from the state board of education.

Within recent years expert attention has been given to the proper physical development of children. A supervisor of physical culture has the oversight of the pupils of the grammar and primary grades. Games and light gymnastics are provided. Outdoor sports are encouraged and directed. In the high school all athletics are under the supervision of a competent physical director, while every boy is required to do definite gymnasium work. The school board is now earnestly urging the organization of a system of medical inspection.

In material equipment, the city has provided most generously for her schools.

The buildings recently erected for grammar and high school purposes have attracted favorable comment from visitors. Mention has already been made of the Central and Technical high schools. In 1903, the Chestnut street grammar school was completed at a cost of $135,961. The Forest Park building, dating from 1899, represents an outlay of $90,000. The William street school, including land and building, is valued at $76,000. Provision is made of the most modern and efficient appliances for sanitation, including heat and ventilation. Such buildings with their tasteful decorations and neat surroundings constitute no small factor in the education of the child's taste and contribute to right conduct.

Tribute to the excellence of Springfield's school system is given in the attention her schools have received from students of education. In 1902, commissioners from New South Wales, officially delegated by their government to examine the school systems of the world, spent two days in Springfield, and in their report gave high praise to what they saw in this city. Many foreign delegates to the educational congress at St. Louis in 1904 made it a point of inspecting the schools of Springfield on their way home. Most significant was the visit of Dr. Paul Albrecht, minister of public instruction for Alsace-Lorraine, who made a special study of methods of teaching ancient and modern languages, a field in which Germans are supposed to be masters.

These visits were due in part to the impression made by the exhibition of the Springfield school as the exposition at Chicago in 1893, Buffalo in 1900, and finally at St. Louis in 1904. At the St. Louis fair three gold medals were awarded, one for elementary education in arithmetic, one for evening trades classes, and one for secondary education.

Springfield, now fully entered on her second half-century of existence as a city, possesses a great treasure in the organization, equipment, standards and spirit of her schools and teachers. Generous appropriations from the public treasury, cordial support of the school board, freedom from political and personal influences in the city government, are the civic factors that have contributed to this result. Under such favorable conditions, capable, broad-minded and expert superintendents, joined in a common work with loyal and efficient teachers, have instilled through the schools into the youth of the community the best of their life and character. No better foundation can a city lay for continued prosperity. Economic success depends on an abundant supply of trained workmen. These the schools are furnishing, and in greater numbers and variety as departments of instruction multiply. Public peace and safety depend on the right attitude of the citizen towards all questions of law and order. Such lessons faithful teachers supply by example and precept. Great problems of the municipality call for minds capable of grasping details and reaching sound conclusions. The exercises of the classroom give this mental power to the coming voter. Above all else should the spirit and atmosphere of the schoolroom influence the youth to consider his higher duties to the city and state, duties that call for self-sacrifice in the interest of the community, the true civic spirit that alone makes democracy possible.

As Springfield has loyally supported her schools in the past, she will in the future provide fully the means and conditions necessary to assure progress and an even better adaptation to the needs of the public weal.

Certain Other Schools

Springfield, through the enterprise of her citizens, aided by her advantages of easy access to New York and Boston, and by her attraction as a residential city, has been selected as a home for two institutions of learning that are doing interesting, unique and valuable work. These are the International Young Men's Christian Association Training school and the American International college, formerly known as the French-American college. The International Training school was founded in 1885 by Rev. David Allen Reed in connection with the School for Christian Workers. In 1890, it became independent, and in 1891 was established in its present home on the shores of Massasoit lake. Here it possesses a property of thirty acres of land with the use of the lake two and a half miles long for boating purposes.

The first building, a model gymnasium, was erected in 1894. Connected with this is a fine athletic field. Since 1894, there have been added a dormitory, boat house and Woods hall, a building that provides a dining-room and kitchen, together with facilities for social purposes. The total value of the property is estimated at $150,000.

As its name indicates, the special function of the school is to train workers for the service of the Young Men's Christian association. Two distinct fields are recognized, secretaryship and that of physical director. This work has been done with great success and the reputation of the school is so high that application for its graduates are five times greater than the number of men available. Universities, academies and high schools are also looking to this institution for men to take charge of their athletics and physical training. Graduates of the school are to be found in many of the important cities of the United States and Canada and widely scattered through the foreign field.

As an equipment for instruction the school has a library of seven thousand volumes and over sixty thousand pamphlets and magazines. Many of these books are of unique value as they relate to the history, methods and development of the Young Men's Christian association. Laboratories are also provided for practical experimentation in physiology, physics and psychology.

The faculty is composed of nine professors whose work is supplemented by the assistance of eleven instructors and twelve lecturers. Among the courses given are those on history and literature of the Young Men's Christian association, anatomy, psychology, sociology, physiology, anthropometry and the Bible. The graduates of the school are exerting a potent influence on the youth of America by their teaching and example. Purity of life and high ideals are inculcated through the medium of the associations, while a positive work is being done through schools and universities to elevate the tone of athletics and to make out-door and in-door sports a means of character building.

As a factor that makes for a vigorous manhood the International Training school is winning general recognition and the generous support of men of means. Its location in Springfield is an advantage to the school and a credit to the city.

The French-American college was founded in Lowell May 1, 1885, to provide for the needs of the great and growing French population of New England. Immigration from Canada had assumed such proportions as to cause serious concern to those interested in the social and religious condition of Massachusetts and neighboring states. To train up teachers and leaders for this new element of our citizenship was felt to be an imperative need of the times. After an interval of three years the college was transferred to Springfield, where a building, Owen Street hall, was erected for its accommodation. A dwelling-house known as the Cottage, was purchased and put at the disposal of the institution. The college now possesses in addition a gymnasium hall, a printing office, a dwelling-house, occupied by one of the professors, and the Woman's hall. The last structure was finished in 1899 and contains a chapel, reception hall, dining-room and kitchen, and dormitory provisions for young women in attendance on the college. The college grounds contain five and one-half acres, and the total property is valued at $90,000.

Since its foundation the institution has broadened its scope to include, besides French speaking peoples, students from the Italian, Greek, Armenian, Polish and Spanish races, and in 1905 the name was changed to American International college. Rapidly changing conditions in New England have made advisable such a widening of the influence of the college. To meet the needs of its constituency two courses of study are offered by this institution. The college proper aims to provide instruction similar in range and thoroughness to that commonly accepted as included in the requirement for the degree of A.B. Those who complete the collegiate course are qualified to enter on professional training and to become teachers among their own people.

The second department, known as the French-American academy, covers the ground of a secondary education. Its regular classical course calls for a term of study of four years. In connection with the academy is the Gymnasium Hall school, which provides special training for pupils who are deficient in some branches. It supplements admirably the work of the academy proper. Religious training constitutes an important part of the curriculum in both college and academy.

Students are given the opportunity to learn the art of printing and to care for the grounds and the buildings under supervision. The American International college has under great difficulties succeeded in doing a valuable work in training the young people who come under its care in the duties and responsibilities of Christian living and good citizenship.

Springfield is fortunate in possessing two private schools of high grade. The older of these is The Elms, a school for girls, with fully organized courses of instruction of high, intermediate and primary grades. This school was opened in Hadley in 1866, and in 1881 it removed to Springfield, where it has an attractive location on High street. The removal involved no change in management. The Elms has a high standing and is recognized for the excellence of its college preparatory work by the leading women's colleges, such as Smith, Vassar, Mt. Holyoke and Wellesley. All these institutions have granted this school the right of admission by certificate. The Elms has a reputation for thorough instruction in all branches. It offers good courses in music, art, physical culture and the study of current literature.

The MacDuffie school for girls is most fortunate in its situation. It occupies the homestead of the late Samuel Bowles on a spot near the center of the city and yet quiet and retired. Well organized courses of study are pursued in this school under competent instructors. The departments cover the entire period from kindergarten to entrance to college. Music, language and art are given careful attention. Graduates of the school are accepted on certificate by New England colleges for women. Preparation is also made for the examination for admission to Radcliffe. The school is attended by day pupils from the city and has a number of resident scholars who come from a distance.

William Orr

Technical Education

Springfield stands foremost among the cities of the country in the prominence given in her educational system to those school exercises which give training and information that may be quickly turned to practical account. She was among the first to introduce manual training. This was to be expected. The first city in Massachusetts to elect a superintendent of schools, a city that has always been characterized by the keenest interest on the part of her citizens in the education of her youth, generously supporting the schools and taking pride in keeping them well up to the times in equipment and efficiency, was sure to be the first city to appreciate the industrial needs of the age and to make an effort to meet them.

Nineteen years ago manual training was introduced into the schools of this city. It is a credit to the wisdom of the school committee then in power and to the intelligence and public spirit of the citizens that a beginning was made in this important form of educational work eight years before the law requiring it was written in the statutes. Nor is this fact the only evidence in the city's belief in the policy of making the schools thoroughly practical. In 1898, after twelve years of experimenting, Springfield entered upon a distinct and comprehensive system of manual and technical training. An independent high school was then organized, of which the distinctive feature was that every student enrolled must take a four-year's course in the mechanic arts, together with a full course in the usual academic studies. In the same year an evening trades school was opened, which, at small expense to the city, offers free instruction and practice in fundamental trades.

Meanwhile, the manual training, sewing, and cooking lessons of the grammar grades took their place side by side with other school exercises in regular school hours, and were greatly improved. At the present time there are well-equipped manual training-rooms and school kitchens in nearly all of the grammar schools. Instruction in bench work with wood is given to all the boys of the seventh, eight, and ninth grades, and for the boys of the ninth grade these lessons come once a week. Probably no city in the country has so thorough a system of elementary manual training as that now in force in Springfield. The high grade of mechanical work done in the Technical high school is largely due to the excellent preparation which most of its students receive under the manual training teachers of the grammar schools.

But the crowning evidence of Springfield's educational enterprise and of her sympathy with modern tendencies in education is seen in the liberal provision made for the development of the new Technical high school. The building now being erected on Elliot street, designed by the local well-known architects, E. C. and G. C. Gardner, will be, when completed, the largest and probably the best equipped high school building of this type in New England. It is 238 feet long by 214 feet deep, and is designed to accommodate nine hundred pupils. There are twenty-two classrooms in the main building, varying somewhat in size, the largest accommodating eighty pupils and the smallest twenty-four. Besides the regular classrooms in the main building, there are eight rooms on the top floor to be devoted to physics and chemistry. Four large rooms on this floor are also available for work in domestic science and the industrial arts. In the basement there is a gymnasium 76 feet long by 57 feet wide, including corridors, with two large rooms for lockers and baths and four other rooms to be given over to athletic purposes. A capacious lunchroom and other accessory rooms are also located in the basement. The running-track of the gymnasium opens into the main corridor on the first floor directly opposite the front entrance to the building. Above this, on the second floor, is located the assembly hall, which has a gallery entered from the third floor.

The mechanical wing, situated in the rear of the main building, is of peculiar design and construction and well suited to its special uses. In the basement of this wing is the forge shop, 67 feet square, covered by a monitor roof of special design which admits light and provides for ventilation. On one side of the forge shop are located the boiler and engine rooms, and on the other the foundry and wood-turning shops. The basement also contains two rooms for the plumbing classes and necessary locker rooms. On the first floor of the mechanical wing are three rooms designed for machine-shop work and three for joinery and pattern-making. All these rooms are well lighted by large and numerous windows, and some of them receive light through the low roof which covers the main part of the mechanical wing. The rear of this wing is carried up two stories higher than the main part, and on the first of these additional stories are three rooms, one for electrical work, another for wood-finishing, another for free-hand drawing. The top floor of this elevated portion is to be entirely given over to the department of mechanical drawing, and is divided into two large drawing-rooms, a lecture-room, and several accessory rooms.

The building is designed to be of moderate cost and yet provide everything essential to a thoroughly-equipped technical high school. It will cost, exclusive of the lot, but including the necessary equipment, not less than $265,000. Ordinary red brick is the principal material used for its construction, but the main building is finished in a special grade of red brick, with Indiana limestone trimmings. The central portion around the main entrance is entirely of Indiana limestone. The entire building is of fireproof construction of the modern reinforced concrete type. This form of construction not only furnishes complete protection against fire, but insures durability, freedom from sound transmission and from dust and other unsanitary conditions. The corridor floors are of granolithic or terrazzo material, and the stairs have concrete treads. The heating and ventilation system depends on the forced circulation of hot water with direct radiation and an abundant supply of fresh air at a moderate temperature under the control of pressure and exhaust fans. A 125-horse-power engine with a direct-connected electrical generator furnishes the power for the heating and ventilation system, for the machine work of the mechanical departments, and for a considerable portion of the artificial lighting. Great care has been taken to give the building a throughly modern and efficient equipment.

The new building will furnish facilities not only for more effective training along lines which are followed at present, but it will afford an opportunity for the development of many other lines of technical training which are much to be desired. On general principles there is no reason why the advantages of a technical high school should be offered exclusively to boys, as has hitherto been the practice in Springfield. The general policy of the school is to connect the education of youth during the high-school period with the practical life of the times, without sacrificing a strong academic course in all the essentials. Girls need this practical training during the secondary school period as well as boys. In view of the direct influence upon the home life, the teaching of home economics and domestic arts to girls in a practical way is of the greatest importance. Many of the industrial arts also offer to young women greater opportunities every year. In several cities where schools of this type have been carried on, girls were admitted from the first. In this respect Springfield is behind other cities; but with the opening of the new building for the Technical high school it need not long remain in that position.

The value of technical education to the individual and its importance to the community are sure to be realized more and more as the opportunities for acquiring it are extended. This extension is an assured fact in Springfield; and in providing liberally for practical training the city is keeping well abreast of the times in her educational policy. The most notable fact in the educational world of the present day is the rapid expansion of technical schools. For many years such schools have formed a large part of great national systems of education in continental Europe, where they have been most important factors in determining industrial and commercial progress. In America they are of more recent origin, since they are, for the most part, the result rather than, as in Europe, the cause of material development. They have come in our country as the natural consequence of great discoveries in applied science which have given men a new and greatly enlarged control over natural forces, revealed unexpected stores of wealth in our vast natural resources, enormously multiplied our manufactured products and correspondingly increased our capacity to supply the world's markets. They have come in answer to a demand for men of scientific education and special training to study the problems and direct the enterprises of the day or to take the humbler but no less important places in the modern industrial world. They have come because a practical age needs practical schools.

The first answer to this demand in this country came in the establishment of technical schools of college grade to train men for the engineering professions. These schools have been supported partly from private endowments and partly from funds appropriated by states in which they are located; and they have also received assistance from the general government through the sale of public lands. But it was not enough that the colleges alone should shape their courses to the needs of a scientific and industrial age. The public schools under municipal control, always quick to follow the lead of the higher educational institutions, are responding to the demand for practical studies and a training designed to connect school life more closely with the life of the times. To the popular mind the new education means better training for the vocations. To the leaders in educational thought it means much more than this. It means a new force appealing to the interest of pupils, and a certain completeness in the pupil's development through the influence of motor activities. It means an increased educational value in the work of the schools.

But however justified in theory, the idea has take firm hold of the public schools under the general name of manual training. In Massachusetts it finds recognition in a law requiring all cities and towns of twenty thousand inhabitants or more to maintain manual training as part of its elementary and high school system. In every state of the union the pressure of public opinion has been felt in favor of vitalizing the work of the schools by the introduction of studies and exercises that have close relation with the industrial and home life of the times. All classes and grades of schools, those supported by the endowment and tuition fees, as well as those maintained at municipal expense, are feeling the influence of this great movement for a more practical training than that which obtained in the schools and colleges of the country during the first three-quarters of the century just passed. It is doubtful if there has been for many years any improvement in educational thought and practice of greater present value or of better promise for the future than the emphasis now being given to the practical side of education through the various forms of manual and technical training.

But the present development of the practical element in the schools of Springfield has not been brought about at the expense of general culture, nor is it likely to lead to that result. The too early and perhaps over-emphasized specializing of some foreign schools will not be copied anywhere in America. It is certainly not the province of technical high schools to develop special skill by practice along narrow lines. The aim is breadth of training combined with effectiveness. All the older studies of proved value are retained and their value increased by giving them vital relations with practical life.

Charles F. Warner

No comments: