Country School Memories, as told by Mrs. Christine McCormick -- County Superintendent, Sept. 1924-Aug. 1973
(the link with Mrs. McCormick's name above leads to her obituary that is posted)
Christine Petersen McCormick Memories; LeMars Sentinel, Aug. 10, 1977
Pictured sitting on a wooden bench in the Elgin Twp. No. 2 country school brought back many memories for Christine McCormick, 49-year Plymouth County superintendent of schools. Mrs. McCormick was superintendent of the county schools from September 1924 to August 1973, when she retired.
QUOTES from Mrs. McCormick:
“In the early days, the main duties of the county superintendent were to conduct examinations for teacher certificates, record the results in permanent records, and register teacher certificates.” Mrs. McCormick recalled. “There were so many duties, it is hard to pick out the most important ones.”
“The county superintendent along with the county board of education selected textbooks every five years to be used in rural schools. The county office also purchased the textbooks for the selected county school depositories (where they sold them.)”
“I also conducted teachers’ institutes, which was required by law on a county-wide basis. This included both town and rural schools,” she added.
“The Iowa school law required each superintendent to visit each public school in the county at least once during the school year. There were several reasons for this. First of all, to make sure the school attendance law was enforced. Secondly, to advise with the school boards concerning equipment, textbooks, teaching staff for the best interest of the respective districts,” Mrs. McCormick continued.
“Driving in the early days without surfaced roads was probably the hardest part of my job.” Mrs. McCormick commented that she owned her own Ford coupe and appreciated road improvements.
“I think the top improvement was the raising of teacher qualifications,” she said with conviction.
“The improved libraries were also great. The libraries traveled throughout the township, and there were more books, and we kept circulating them between the county schools. We could keep the books for six weeks.”
“More professional help was provided from teachers of colleges and universities. Another great improvement was when the rural school township boards began paying tuition for rural 7th and 8th grade pupils to attend town schools, thereby eliminating many drop-outs among the older students.”
“I think I should add that more and better teaching equipment aided the system much, as well as special education for the handicapped.”
“The buildings themselves were improved tremendously, too. Most of them eventually got room furnaces, and many of them installed indoor toilets and electric lights.”
“I think the children were my favorite part of being superintendent,” Mrs. McCormick said with a laugh and a smile.
“In those days, there were 179 teaching days and one day for the teachers’ institute. The school hours were from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with a 15 minute recess in the morning and afternoon. Lunches were brought each day by the students, to be eaten at an hour noon break. Later, we served one hot dish at the school at noon.”
“The average number of pupils in each school was about 14, and they ranged in grades from 1 through 8.”
“Very few days were missed because of bad weather or snow. Most of the kids walked, or else their fathers would bring them in bob sleighs.”
[Her superintendent credentials, Christine Petersen McCormick spent over 50 years in a rural school, as a student, teacher and superintendent.]
In order to be county superintendent, one had to hold a superintendent certificate with five years of teaching experience. Mrs. McCormick held a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a master of arts degree from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, with majors in elementary education and school administration.
Prior to becoming a superintendent, she attended a rural school, district No. 5 Perry township for eight years. She taught for four years in Perry township rural schools and in the town schools for five years.
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