Source: NMHS Newsletter, February 1992

Roots in Education  By Ferne Storer 
Presented at the North Manchester Athenian Club, April 1, 1986

We are going on a journey…to learn more about the roots of education in North Manchester.  We will start at Manchester College, because that is where I started my formal education.  An elementary school had been established by the college in 1910 to serve as a laboratory school for the teacher training program.  This was called East Ward School.  To the music from a phonograph record of Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” we marched up the wooden stairs of the old library to our classrooms.  This is now the Communications Building.  I don’t remember much about the college students’ being around, but we had lots of student teachers.

When I was ready for fourth grade in 1929, Thomas Marshall School was ready for occupancy.  This building was constructed while Charles E. Cook was superintendent and board president.  Members were A.L. Ulrey, Von Shupp, and W.H. Ballenger.  The building was beautiful, a dark red brick structure with white stone-like trimmings which depict athletic activities.  The elementary pupils attending Manchester schools at that time selected the name Thomas Marshall.  A picture of Marshall was hung in the main entrance of the school.  After remodeling the building in 1968, the portrait was hung in the school library.  It was an exciting time when the cornerstone was laid, and the dedication address was delivered by J. Raymond Schutz, father of Charlotte Deavel and Don Schutz.

There were eight classrooms in the building, three on first five on second.  A small library was on second floor across the hall from the office.  When the school was first opened only four rooms were occupied; the “extras” were used as activity rooms.  The teachers were: First-Second, Miss Edith Dresher; third, Miss Lucile  Wright;; Fourth, Miss Ruth Brane; and Fifth-Sixth, Mr. Kenneth Burr.  Miss Grace Seki [say-key], a Hawaiian elementary teacher exchanged positions with Miss Brane.

In 1939 Mrs. Freda Royer started the first private kindergarten in one of the unoccupied upstairs rooms.  In 1944 kindergarten became a part of the public school system with Mrs. Royer as teacher.  As the school population grew, all of the extra rooms were used as classrooms.  Kindergarten required two teachers, one for the morning session and one for the afternoon.

In 1968 the building was remodeled and enlarged.  V.A. Simmons was superintendent, and school board members were David Yeatter, Mary Coe, Wayne Deardorff, Max Dickerhoff, Duane and Thelma Jerew, Howard Terrill, and Arden Urschel.  The office was moved to the ground floor, and a multipurpose room and music room were added to the east side.  All halls, stairways, and classrooms were carpeted.  A completely new heating system was installed, and wiring was modernized.

The junior high in the Central High School.  The high school was first organized in 1841.  When it burned in 1873, some people thought it was past its usefulness.  The new school was finished in 1875.  Some thought it was so big that it would last 100 years.  The janitor, William Maurer, lived on the premises.  “It was a monument to ‘wild dreams.’”  The cost was between $15,000 and $20,000, $100 to the architect.  “Pretty high to draw a picture.”  The building lasted from 1875-1922.  The last class from the old building was Dorothy Delvin, Cecil Eiler, Tom Wetzel, and Ralph Walters.  The “new” Central High School cost $414,000.

Some innovations: no assembly room (considered essential for high school); rotation of classes to teacher; and study in the library, not in class.  Josh Billings writes. “And for the future, who knows?  Possibly the 40 years may see more changes than the past 40 --- possibly for the better, possibly for the worse.  But, here’s hoping!”

Having chosen Manchester College, when I was a senior, I did student teaching at Martha Winesburg School.  I enjoyed the first and second graders, but I wanted to know more about Martha Winesburg.  She had been a revered primary teacher.  For 43 years, she taught and had an outstanding career.  She fostered a disciplined yet cheerful environment, using new techniques but still tried and true methods.

Martha is remembered as a tall, erect person with blue eyes and white hair, always elegantly dressed and wearing hat and gloves.  She had a blooming complexion and was always spotless.  She was born on June 2, 1862, to James and Rachel (Heeter) Winesburg.  She had three brothers and one sister.  Their 180-acre farm is now (1986) owned by George Winebrenner.  As a child she attended Krisher School across from the Krisher Cemetery.

She taught at Servia and Liberty Mills.  Since Krisher School was near Servia, perhaps she taught where she had received her early education.  Miss Winesburg was a dedicated teacher and attended biennial teacher institutes during the school year.  She received a two-year normal certificate from Manchester College in 1908, acquired by summer short courses and perhaps night classes.

Teachers’ pay was extremely low by today’s standards.  There were no insurance plan, pension, or other benefits.  As late as 1918 teachers working in rural schools earned $50 a month, did their own janitorial work, and often boarding with school patrons.

Many summers when school was out, Martha packed a steamer trunk and went to Bay View, a rather swank summer resort on the east side of Lake Michigan.  You might think she went there to socialize, but instead she went there to work.  Miss Winesburg’s house, a one-story frame cottage with wood siding, stood on the bank which sloped to Eel River near where the newer house of Roger and Hulda Sawyer is now.  She heated the house with coal and cooked on a coal and wood stove.  Yes, there was an outdoor privy, and a washtub inside was used for baths.

I taught first and second grades at Thomas Marshall.  I now spend some time learning to know college students.  As you can see, I have spent much of my life in North Manchester schools.