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ESTELLE SCHARFELD, FAIRMOUNT JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL,
EAUTY in and about our building!" Such was Fairmount's slogan for Clean-up Week. During the preceding week, Beauty in all its phases, was discussed in the English and Art classes, throughout the building. These discussions considered Beauty of the body, of clothing, of schoolrooms, and of our yard. The teachers and pupils, however, had varying ideas about the Beauty spot in a room. Some teachers thought a plant or flower of some kind, was a Beauty Spot. Others said that anything containing a bright spot of color, was the Beauty Spot. Still others deemed a nicely arranged bulletin board or chart, a Beauty Spot. The pupils, in their turn, also had ideas about the Beauty in a room. In short, color, arrangement, neatness, warmth and cleanliness, were some of the points brought out as necessities for a Beauty Spot.
To demonstrate this principle of "Beauty Everywhere," we entered our Clean-up Campaign. From April sixteenth to April twenty-first, a state of competition reigned among all the rooms. Each home-room set out to put the other home-room to rout. The offices, shops, and halls, too, began to "Clean-up," with the same end in view. Indeed, every room that entered the contest was in full armor and all anticipated a glorious victory.
Inspection day was on Thursday. On that morning two committees of pupils went to the various rooms as inspectors. One committee inspected the home-rooms, while the other committee inspected offices, shops, and halls.
The committees based their reports on ten points in each room. Cloak rooms and lockers.
(3) Individual desks, both teachers and pupils.
(4) Maps and charts.
(5) Bulletin Boards.
(6) Black Boards
(8) Ink bottles and corks.
(10) Beauty spot.
Each one of the above points, if perfect, was counted as ten. Therefore, if a room received a perfect mark on each feature, it would be a 100 per cent room. Unfortunately there was not a perfect room in the building, but as ninety-nine per cent is not very much lower, we could give a great deal of credit to the winner! The committees deemed no room below passing, but very many rooms were pronounced excellent. The custodian held himself responsible for condition of yard; it was marked 100%. The most gratifying result in the entire campaign was the fact that not a room lacked a Beauty Spot. This, in itself, shows that all Fairmounters had fully appreciated their slogan, "Beauty in and about our building!"
Because our first campaign had been so satisfactory, we decided to have another Inspection Day. This time the teachers were not notified, because we wished them to see how well everything had been kept up. On May 20th the same inspectors made an inspection tour of the building, and the results were fairly astounding. Several rooms were perfect and a great many were classed high in the nineties. It was surely gratifying to everyone to know that all the teachers and pupils had kept up and improved the general cleanliness and beauty in their rooms. So hurrah, for our slogan; for the enthusiasm it has created and for the good work it has done!
Notes from an Outcast
OR obvious reasons I must be nameless. It is enough to say that I am a wanderer from the fold, an Ishmael. Most teachers can classify themselves as public or private instructors, but, as for me, just what am I? Not a public school teacher, nor a private one in the generally accepted sense of the word. My school is rather a wayside inn to give temporary assistance to the needy traveler, and while occasionally a member of the aristocracy drifts in, it is planned primarily for the children of the working people. The curriculum differs somewhat from year to year; generally it covers the work in the upper grammar grades, modified to fit the individual pupils, although the school is not for the subnormal, but rather for the slow children whose work is always a little below the rest of the class, or for those who, through illness, have fallen behind.
Both public and private teachers, I suppose, would define such an institution as the small boy did the lie, as "an abomination unto the Lord," but I console myself with the reflection that it is perhaps like the end of that same definition, "a very present help in time of trouble." Certainly there seem to be plenty of children in difficulty, for I have a waiting list nearly all of the time. Why is it?
There are advantages to my position as outcast, for I can study the educational situation at my leisure, and try out my theories as I choose. A public school teacher has little time and less opportunity for such attempts; I know, for I have been one. She is busy trying out other people's theories. And the instructor in the select private school is pretty well fettered by custom; she must remember that certain things "aren't done. Our first families. might object." My theories have not carried me very far yet, but I have made a few observations in regard to parents. As I have my living to earn, and the school is "a poor thing but my own," I
must remain an unknown quantity so long as I discuss the perplexing father and mother. Their behavior toward me is exceedingly interesting.
A private school holds a unique position in a community. So far as I know, and I have been in the business for several years, any one can start such an enterprise. All that is necessary is the courage of your convictions and a little advertising. That is all very well in its way, no doubt. Any one can advertise that he takes dogs to board. Yet, it is an astonishing fact that if Mr. Smith wished to have his pet collie, Laddie, boarded out for a while, he would certainly go to the place where the dog was to stay, to see if Laddie were in good surroundings, and wisely handled.
Most parents are singularly guileless in the matter of schools for their children. Because I have a school, that is, because I say that I am competent to teach, they jump at the conclusion that everything is as it should be. It is astonishing the number of pupils who have come to me for one, or even two years, without the least effort on the part of their parents to make my acquaintance. I am well recommended, they say. Possibly, but by whom? It is an absolute fact that never, since I opened this school, have a half dozen parents visited it during school hours. We talk over the telephone, it is true, but that is an entirely different matter. Parents fail to remember that the private teacher is answerable to no superintendent, and, in my case, to no principal. She does as she pleases.
For a number of Septembers I have had the same experience. Until two or three days before school opens nothing happens. A day seems to be sufficient time for a parent to decide who the person shall be who will guide and intimately influence his child for the ensuing year. Then anxious relatives, usually mothers, begin to telephone to me at all hours of the day and night. When I first began private school work, I used to fear those conversations over the wire. Should I make a good impression? Should I be able to answer all the questions? But I do not worry about them now. It is impossible to make much of an impression upon the average parent. I have met a few, to be sure, who are intelli
gently interested, and critical enough to please the most exacting, but most of them simply wish to get their children off their hands. As for the questions, in nine cases out of ten the following will cover them.
"Is this Miss S?"
"Do you have a private school?"
"What are your terms?"
"Do you take both boys and girls?" "Yes."
"When does your school begin?"
I tell them.
"Do you provide the books, or shall I buy them ?"
I explain that I purchase the books, and charge them to the parents.
"Now I have a history and a georgraphy that I used when I went to school. Can't my son use those? They're just as good as they ever were, not a leaf missing."
It requires tact and persistence on my part to convince the speaker that, although the books are doubtless in good condition, they are not yet valuable as antiques, and have simply outlived their usefulness. You cannot tell a parent outright, particularly a mother, that, of course, her school days were over quite a few years ago, and therefore her books are out of date. At least, if you do, don't expect her to send her child to your school.
Generally I can catch the mother's attention before she rings off, to attempt to find out what the child has done, where he has been to school, how old he is, etc., but not always. Shades of departed teachers, what sublime faith! There is rarely a word about what