Upper Burlington
Community Hall
"The Old Schoolhouse"b

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The Trustees and Teachers

From: Rathbun, Maurice – A Brief History of Cheverie + 20th Century Changes, WHHS 1993

…The schools were operated by three trustees, elected at an annual public meeting for a three year term, who had complete authority to have the properties within their bounds assessed and taxed according to the needs for the particular year and to appoint a secretary who collected these taxes, paid all bills and supervised any repairs or alterations necessary, also to appoint a janitor, and make sure the classrooms were supplied with needed materials and that they were kept warm and made as pleasant as possible.

It was also the responsibility of the trustees to hire and fire teachers on a one year basis at as low a rate as they could get capable teachers, to be paid on a quarterly scale, and to personally visit the classrooms during school hours, from time to time.

Although it was not written in their contract, the teachers were expected to visit the homes of their students at least once a year and to encourage the parents to keep their children in school as regularly and for as long as possible.

It was understood that the teachers would keep any students after school who needed extra help to catch up with their class.

As a long time member of the local village school board, nine years as a trustee, and ten years as secretary, the basis of our operations were as follows:

We had a total assessment of $26,000 on which a budget of about $900.00 was generally agreed upon, with a tax rate of about 5.85 on the 100 and from which we were expected to educate approximately 65 students and to employ two teachers, a janitor and heat the building (wood stoves).

Out of perhaps a dozen applications, (it varied greatly) we would select one or two as needed.

We did not pay too much attention to the academic qualifications, the pay being the same in any case, but, rather we hoped to get competent teachers with some experience, capable of teaching all subjects to several grades, that too varied, to maintain good discipline, and could get along reasonably well with the parents and the community in general.

They were all one year contracts and, if things did not work out as hoped for, we simply did not renew the contract, but had to advise the teacher by March 31st in either case.

Until the late forties, these contracts called for a 200 day teaching year and,  if for any reason, days were missed during the school year, they were expected to be “made up” either on Saturdays or at the end of the term.

If it was known in advance that the teacher would miss several consecutive days, they were obliged to find, at their own expense, and personally pay, a suitable substitute to fill in for them.

Again it was expected that teachers take an active part in community affairs, such as teaching Sunday School, singing in church choirs, etc., and, above all else, set a “good example” for the younger folk.

The teachers on the other hand were constantly trying to improve themselves, either by getting a larger school with higher pay and more prestige, or sometimes, just to get a better boarding place, or to be nearer their homes.

In consequence it was the custom for most teachers to send out, sometimes a rather large number of applications in February and March, and, if they received affirmative replies, to begin negotiations.

The net result of all this meant quite a turnover with teachers which had some advantages for all concerned, such as bringing in new methods and ideas, also to prevent continued favoritism or prejudices, and the kids themselves always looked forward to getting a new teacher. So overall, the system worked quite well as a rule, for everyone, and prevailed all over the Province, with perhaps a few exceptions in towns and cities schools.

Applications from married teachers were usually not favourably considered, as it was felt that they could not give the amount of attention to what was normally expected of them, and it was also frowned upon for a teacher to get married during the course of their contract, and the idea of husband and wife teaching in the same school would have been unthinkable…..