The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 8.


Valparaiso Believes In and Values Schools Verdict of Educator

Superintendent Valparaiso Schools

Valparaiso is a city made up of citizens who believe in good schools. Six years ago last April the writer came to Valparaiso interested in the superintendency of the city schools. After visiting with a number of representative men and women he went away with the impression that this was a community that appreciated and valued its schools. The impression gained in the first inspection has been more than justified for after these years we are convinced that no more loyal and cooperative supporters bless any school situation.

There are at least three factors that must function if a system of schools is to be effective to educate the children, a capable and well trained teaching staff, an understanding and helpful community and the physical facilities so necessary to have and maintain the modern school.

Teachers of Valparaiso are well trained. Every teacher in the system is qualified to do the task assigned. All are regularly certified to teach by the State of Indiana. There is not a teacher in this system working under a permit. All have met the requirements and many have gone far beyond the prescribed requirements. Seventy-two weeks' training are necessary to teach in the grades and one hundred forty-four weeks (or four years) are required for teaching the high school. Four teachers on the high school staff have Master Degrees or more, and eight additional teachers are working on Masters Degrees. Tenure of position is long an acknowledged fact with Valparaiso teachers. Teachers have and feel a security of position as long as satisfactory work is done. This year not one teacher of the grades left her position, and only two in the entire system, and one of these was to be married. There is one teacher on the staff who has taught in Valparaiso for thirty-four years and fifteen others who have been in the system twenty years or more. There are teachers on the staff who could secure larger salaries in other schools but desire to remain and work here by reason of excellent working conditions and pleasant residential situations.

The teachers are all active in professional circles and many hold posts of honor conferred by their colleagues. C. O. Pauley is now president of the Indiana High School Chemistry Teachers' association, Miss Edith Weems was recently president of the Home Economics section of the State Teachers' association, C. L. Bigelow is chairman of the local teachers' club. Mrs. Emma R. Poor is chairman of the Year Book Division of the Press Association. The superintendent of schools is a member of the legislative committee of the State Superintendent association, and was recently selected president of the Alumni Association of Indiana State Teachers' college.

All civic and church movements have the support of the teaching body. Last fall the city teachers as usual made a most generous contribution to the Red Cross drive for funds. No Christmas Seal campaign, Boy Scout movement, or solicitation for Salvation Army funds is complete without the active support of the teachers. All the churches of the city find some teachers among their most active membership. Teachers feel that they not only live in the community but that they are a part of it. All but ten of the teachers make Valparaiso their home, only fifteen percent live away from here.

When one considers the loyalty and support, often rendered at great sacrifice, that the men and women of the city give to their schools you pause to consider the reasons. It must be that their children have and are securing that vital necessity called an "education." How do we know? Do we measure them by their excellent preparation for college? This is only a part of its measure. The fact that there are citizens able to carry their share of the responsibilities and contribute counsel and help in the many problems is further indication of the effectiveness of their education.

Taxpayers in Valparaiso have provided physical facilities for taking care of the schools. The buildings now in use are the four elementary school buildings, the Columbia, built in 1892; the Gardner, constructed by Kirk and Foster in 1898 (incidentally Charles Foster, Sr., tell us that this was his first contract as a builder); the Banta, the newest of the grade schools, built in 1924; the Central, which houses in addition to the elementary school, a kindergarten and a junior high school. The playground at the Columbia is entirely too small. The school city should at the first opportunity take steps to acquire additional space for playground at this building. The grounds at Central and Gardner are small, but much more adequate than at Columbia. Banta is fortunate in having fine spacious grounds, which are utilized not only by the school children, but by the community as well. The building are all in good repair as the school trustees adopted a five year program which includes conditioning and repairing each building in turn. This year the Columbia building came in for attention. This conditioning included roof repair, painting all wood and metal, installing necessary new plumbing, and making such new decorations as desirable.

High school enrollment has increased to such a point that the new high school on north Campbell street is taxed to take care of the more than 600 students. One of the pressing needs is for cafeteria facilities in order to properly take care of the students. More than two hundred boys and girls bring lunches to school each day. Many more would lunch at school if opportunity existed for this. All the children from the rural schools and those that live more than a few blocks from the school do not find it feasible to lunch at home. There are many occasions during the school year when groups find it desirable to plan dinners at the school. Girls majoring in home economics need the opportunity to plan this type of work.

Another facility much needed at Valparaiso high school is a school auditorium. The gymnasium is used as far as possible to take care of auditorium needs but if the reader has ever attended a school convocation he realizes the inadequacy of the present management. Attempts have been made to hold operettas and school plays in the gymnasium but the results have been so discouraging that the school has again availed itself of down town theatres for this purpose. The school city would render a district community service by providing auditorium facilities. The original plans of the high school building anticipated such an addition and the same could be added without marring the architectural design of the building. The finances of the school city are in better condition than at any time in the past dozen years. School trustees have so planned their financial program that the new building will be entirely paid for by Jan. 1, 1937, and the gymnasium debt reduced to $36,000. The gymnasium is in a large measure self-supporting. The gymnasium bonds which will contribute the entire school city debt are so planned that they will be completely relieved in 1941.

The growth of the city of Valparaiso is slow but definite. The school enrollment will reflect equal or a greater percentage of growth. It is altogether probable that the compulsive school attendance law will be extended up to eighteen years of age. Valparaiso should be looking ahead to meet conditions that will arise and make satisfactory plans for the replacement of physical properties as the need develops. It is our belief that needed support will be gladly rendered as the citizens of Valparaiso understand and appreciate the educational problems that are to be met.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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