From Imboden I proceeded to Paragould, reaching there on Saturday, August 13th, in time to meet and confer with the County Examiner, Mr. A. A. Knox, whom I found to be a decidedly live man, thoroughly interested in the work ahead of us. He had called a County Institute, to be in session at the same time with the Peabody Normal, and anticipated a good attendance. I requested him to attend regularly the sessions of the Institute and act as chairman, in compliance with your suggestion. He readily agreed to do so, having, in fact, expected to do so before I met him, and during the whole of the week following was regularly at his post, exhibiting an earnestness and a promptitude that are worthy of imitation by incumbents of the office of County Examiner throughout the State.
The Institute was called to order promptly on Monday morning, August 15th, at 9 o'clock, and continued in session regularly, according to your programme, until 5 p. m. on Friday. Sixty-seven teachers were enrolled during the week, most of whom attended regularly. I pursued substantially the same plan in my instructions as at Imboden; but the larger attendance, and the larger proportion of experienced and trained teachers made it less practicable than I found it to be at Imboden. I have not seen anywhere in the State more interest in the public schools than was exhibited at Paragould. The people generally appeared interested in what was going on in the Institute room. The editor of the "Paragould Press" attended regularly and reported the proceedings in his paper. On Wednesday night he delivered an address to the Institute, in advocacy of free schools, especially urging the importance of the Blair Educational Bill pending in Congress.
A County Teachers Association was organized during the noon recess of the Institute on Friday, many earnest teachers pledging a hearty co-operation in an effort to make it a success.
I am sure that permanent good was done by the Institute at Paragould, although I am by no means satisfied with my work there, my condition of health having seriously interfered with the carrying out of the full course of instruction which I had carefully planned.
Very respectfully,M. Shelby Kennard
J. N. JOHNSTON, COUNTY EXAMINER.
I can safely say that
the free school system in this county is
in favor. Last year only about one-half the districts voted a
special school tax. This year about three-fourths of all the districts
voted the tax. The schools are taught, as a general thing, by better
teachers and at better salaries than formerly. Many of the schools
continue six months in the year. I think the interest in free schools
will continue to grow.
I have no means of telling what improvement has been made in the schools of the county the past year, compared with former years. I visited a few schools in the summer, and found the children wide-awake, eager to learn, and when a teacher was in charge, they were learning. We need better teachers, more money, and better salaries. I think that no teacher should carry a third grade certificate for more than two years. The law should compel him to stand aside, if he cannot or will not raise his grade. Better results can be reached by better teachers and better salaries, even if the terms shovdd be shorter.
The schools need supervision, and there should be county superintendency. Better teachers and better teaching would result. It would create more enthusiasm, and give more encouragement among teachers, parents, directors, and children. How much does the county examiner know about the work done in the schools in his county? Next to nothing. Who knows who are active, progressive teachers, and who are merely school keepers ? The county examiner, except in distance, is as far removed from the teachers and their actual work as the State superintendent. Every school will welcome a live, practical and sympathetic superintendent. A visit from him will give inspiration and an impetus to many a youngster that will send him upward, till, finally, he will reach the heights. Some legislation is needed along this line.
The reports of directors, in most districts, were imperfect, meager in many respects, and very unsatisfactory. Many school officers know not what it is to be prompt, and have an utter disregard for accuracy.
I suppose, on the whole, we have as good schools and as good teachers as may be found in any county in the State.
R. S. Thompson,
The public schools have been well attended, and a larger number of districts voted the special school tax.
J. N. Johnston, County Examiner
Gainesville, Ark., September 20, 1884. To the State Superintendent:
Sir: I transmit herewith my annual report,though not as complete in many respects as I had hoped to make it, but the best I can do from the data given in the reports to me.
Directors in many of the districts seem to entertain an idea that about all they have to report is their enumeration list. Yet, I am glad to say that the cause of education in this county is improving. Directors are striving more to know and do their duties. The people are also becoming awakened to the responsibility that rests on them, and are co-operating more than heretofore in this work. Eight districts had no public schools the past year. Scarcely any district will have less than three months some part of the present scholastic year. Directors in several districts have already contracted with teachers for from five to eight months, as the increase in the school revenue has enabled them to do.
There is still great room for improvement. We need more teachers in this county that strive to keep abreast in the progress of their profession. If we could get them I think our directors would pay better wages. Salaries here have been too low for first-class educators.
New school districts are being organized for the convenience of patrons. Five have been created the past year, and all except one voted a special tax. Last year twentysix districts voted the special tax. This year thirty-two have voted a special tax, and in nearly all of them the full limit, five mills.
Yours, very truly,
T. B. Kitchens, County Examiner.
Marianna, Ark., September 4, 1890.
Hon. Woodville E. Thompson, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Little Rock, Ark.:
Dear Sir : I have the pleasure to report that by appointment I held a district normal institute at Helena, beginning Monday, July 28. The attendance was not large, but much interest was manifested and good accomplished.
The next meeting opened August 4, at Paragould, Greene County. Prof. Knox, County Examiner, had exhibited a lively interest in preparing for the work, and the institute at Paragould was a success from the beginning to the close. About ninety teachers were enrolled. On Friday a large number r
of school directors were present. The State Superintendent being absent, County Examiner Knox delivered an instructive address to the large audience assembled to witness the closing exercises of the institute.
The meeting at Kingsland, August II, opened with about seventy-five teachers present. This number steadily increased during the week. On Friday more than sixty directors were present for the purpose of receiving instruction relating to their official duties, etc.
Prof. J. W. Thompson, County Examiner
and one of the best school men in the State, had done all in his power
to make the Kingsland meeting both pleasant and profitable. Right well
did he succeed. It is perhaps proper to insert in this report the
following notice from a leading Tennessee daily paper:
Source - Report of Superintendent
of Public Instructions 1890