From chalk­boards to smart boards

Charles County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion show­cases 100 years of his­tory

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON- COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­

Charles County Pub­lic Schools opened up its three-part series of lec­tures last week on the board of ed­u­ca­tion’s 100th an­niver­sary, be­gin­ning with a de­mon­stra­tion of the school sys­tem’s tran­si­tion from chalk­boards to smart boards.

Last Fri­day’s talk, “Ed­u­ca­tion: Then and Now,” kicked off at the Port To­bacco Court­house Sept. 2 with more than 40 peo­ple in at­ten­dance.

The right side of the room was made to look like an early 20th cen­tury school­house; the right side in­cluded equip­ment and tech­nol­ogy used in to­day’s class­rooms.

School board mem­ber Bar­bara Palko said that 1916 was the year the com­mis­sion over­see­ing schools in Charles County was re­ferred to as a “board of ed­u­ca­tion” in the min­utes, which is why the school board marks its an­niver­sary from that date.

“Our cur­rent board felt this would be an ap­pro­pri­ate year to cel­e­brate and spread the word about ed­u­ca­tion in Charles County,” Palko said.

In 1919, she said, en­roll­ment was 7,467; cur­rent en­roll­ment is es­ti­mated at over 26,000.

Palko said that while some of the names were dif­fer­ent, the same ba­sic sub­jects taught in the early part of the 20th cen­tury are still taught to­day.

Abi­gail Wear­mouth, a se­nior at Frost­burg State Univer­sity, por­trayed an early 20th cen­tury teacher as she de­scribed the rules un­der which teach­ers of that time pe­riod were ex­pected to live.

“In the early 1900s, the teacher re­spon­si­bil­i­ties were you are not al­lowed to marry dur­ing the term of your con­tract, you are not to keep com­pany with men, you are not to be out be­tween 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. You may not loi­ter down­town, you may not travel beyond the city lim­its with­out per­mis­sion from the chair­man of the Board [of Ed­u­ca­tion]. You may not ride in a car­riage or au­to­mo­bile with any man un­less it is your fa­ther or brother,” Wear­mouth said, adding that ad­di­tional rules ex­isted spec­i­fy­ing the color, type and length of the teacher’s cloth­ing.

Joyce Ede­len, por­tray­ing her mother-in-law, Mary Olivia Keech, a Charles County teacher in a one-room school­house in the first part of the 20th cen­tury, said the teacher was also ex­pected to bring in fire­wood to heat and light the school and bring in wa­ter from the well for drink­ing and clean­ing ev­ery morn­ing be­fore the start of classes.

Ede­len said young men would have been taught farm­ing, gar­den­ing, tend­ing live­stock, car­pen­try and tool craft, while young women would have been taught sewing, cook­ing and the care of younger stu­dents, even while both sexes were taught the “three R’s” — read­ing, writ­ing and arith­metic.

Teach­ers were also per­mit­ted to use “the dunce cap” as well as cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment, in or­der to main­tain dis­ci­pline, Ede­len said.

“For be­hav­ior con­trol, I am al­lowed to spank,” Ede­len said, hold­ing a ruler.

Wear­mouth led a small group of Dr. James Craik El­e­men­tary School stu­dents through a cou­ple of lessons — recit­ing the Pledge of Al­le­giance and math ex­er­cises scrib­bled out on small chalk­boards.

The stu­dents then tran­si­tioned to the left side of the room, where Karen Rowledge, a teacher at Mau­rice J. McDonough High School, led the Craik stu­dents in a brief les­son work­ing co­op­er­a­tively to break down the mean­ing of the Pledge of Al­le­giance, us­ing com­put­ers and over­head pro­jec­tors in the process, em­pha­siz­ing both the role of tech­nol­ogy and the change in teach­ing style be­tween past and mod­ern.

The demon­stra­tions were fol­lowed by a pe­riod of speak­ers and per­sonal rec­ol­lec­tions, and vis­its to the nearby one-room school­house in Port To­bacco, which is main­tained by the Charles County Re­tired Teacher As­so­ci­a­tion.

On Sept. 16-17, at the Charles County Fair, the school board will hold a dis­cus­sion by for­mer teach­ers and stu­dents on seg­re­ga­tion and de­seg­re­ga­tion in Charles County Pub­lic Schools in the McConchie One-Room School­house just in­side the fair­grounds gates. A sched­ule will be posted out­side the school­house.

On Oct. 1, at the James E. Rich­mond Science Cen­ter at St. Charles High School, the school board will hold a dis­cus­sion of how the school sys­tem has dealt with man­made and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

More in­for­ma­tion can be found on the school sys­tem’s 100th an­niver­sary web­site. Go to www.ccboe. com/100years.


Abi­gail Wear­mouth por­trays an early 20th cen­tury teacher as she leads a de­mon­stra­tion les­son on the Pledge of Al­le­giance dur­ing the school board’s lec­ture on ed­u­ca­tion — then and now — in Charles County Pub­lic Schools.

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