Lee (N.H. : Town).

Report of the superintending school committee of the Town of Lee, N.H. for the year ending (1863) online

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The School Committee regret to say that, at tlie tnii-e
of making up this Report, their Chairman, who last year
performed the duty so acceptably and so well, has been
nnable to take much part in its preparation. Nor will it
be necessary to repeat here what was so properly and so
pointedly said in the printed Report of last year. We
would commend many suggestions in .that Report to a
careful reperusal.

In connection with the reports of the individual dis-
tricts, the Committee desire to make a few suggestions in
regard to the number of school districts in town, the con-
dition of our school houses, and the character of our
schools generally. We have hesitated, however, about
imposing a long sermon upon the reader's attention or a
rtax upon his pocket. Still, we do think the prosperity and
success of our schools will depend much upon the interest
which the citizen feels in them, and the earnestness with
which he investigates and discusses their wants. It is
folly to waste means in poor schools. It is tolly to pay
taxes and not derive the best benefit in return.

The town of Lee expends annually some seven hundred
dollars for the support of schools in our seven school dis-
tricts. That is, in the course of a generation, we expend
a sum amounting to twenty ihousand dollars^ or upwards.
Has this sum been profitably expended? Is the annual
appropriation, at present, doing its best possible work in
schools of marked excellence and character ? Do we get
what we pay for ? This niattcr inteix'sls tax-payers, pe-

cnniarily ; and, as a matter of educational intei'est, it ap-
peals to earnest and tlioug-htful parents with still greater

Estimating the good which our schools accomplish,
humble as they often are, we may well say this amount of
means has been profitably expended ; but whethsr most
profitably, is another (question, and one that can be very
easily answered. From the very circumstances of the
case, onr schools are somewhat defective in their organi-
zation and discipline — are often under the care of incom-
petent teachers, and often sadly fail to accomplish the best
results. The school is sometimes no school at all — some-
times worse than none, for bad teaching only renders
crooked what the skillful hand must afterwards labor to
make straight. It is not a wise parent who puts his chil-
dren under the deforming hand of a clumsy, incompetent
or soulless workman. The hand that shapes the spirit and
moulds the character of the young being, even in the
school room, holds a fearful office. No where, except at
the home altar, is wisdom more needful. Poor *•' preach-
ing " can be endured ; but poor '' teaching " ought never
to be. This is truth, though bluntly expressed.


We are inclined to think, and we may as well say, that
with a better organization of school districts, a more ef-
fective system of school management, a more lively inter-
est on the part of parents, one half the money now ex-
pended would serve us as well as the whole does. Will
it not be wise, then, to look into this matter and see if
our schools cannot be made more efficient, even with our
present means? We think so. And though improvement
is sometimes slow in its progress, right reflection may
often ripen into good action.

If our town could be properly districted, four or five

districts would be butter than the present seven. But
some families would suffer inconvenience, perhaps. We
cannot all be accommodated, always, in these school mat-
ters. We can only accept our individual fortune in a self-
sacrificing spirit and rejoice in the public good. Can we
do this ?

It is certainly folly to cut up a town into small districts
with schools, perhaps, in some instances, of only ten or
fifteen scholars. A school of some thirty or forty pupils,
with a wide-awake, intelligent teacher, is a school worth
having, and one that we may generally be proud of It i«
folly to build seven school houses when four would be
better. It is folly to board and ])^y fourteen teachers
when eight would do the work as well. Is this subject
worth thinking of?

Again, there is more spirit, more animation, more posi-
tive advance in study and intelligence in a school of forty
than in a school of ten. The teacdier, himself, feels the
inspiring influence of such a school. He works with more
zeal. Put a real, live man or woman into such a school —
one that is apt to teach, quick to discern, fertile in re-
sources, and a good disciplinarian, and you will have pro-
gress — you have a school, with competent accommoda-
tions, that is neitlier sleepy, nor lazy, nor indifferent; and
one we need not be asliained of


And now a suggestion in regard to the condition and
appearance of our school-houses. Jt is a fact, whether
the reader believes or not, that the condition, aspect and
comfortable arrangejuent of the school room, and the
school premises, have verij much to do with the habits of
scholars ; and with their moral and intellectual ambition,
also. If you would do something towards reforming a
cdreless, helter-skelter, uiMml)itious company of school

boys, put them into a well-arranged, neat, comfortable
school-room. That schoolroom will preach a constant
sermon — -and impart a constant, pleasant influence. On
the contrary, if you want a crop of rude school boys,
without taste or refinement, hive them up in a slovenly,
unsightly, ill-constructed, marred and scarred school-room,
and you will probably be gratified. This experiment has
been sufficiently tried, both in Lee and other towns. Now,
if rudeness and the vulgar tendencies of school boys can^
to any extent, be charmed out of them by the tidiness and
good taste of the school-room, school-room arrangements
and school premises, let us, by all means, help them to such
a blessing. It will give them a better passport to the
world than their book learning. •

With two or three exceptions, the school-bouses in this
town are in a poor condition — some of them, in a sad con-
dition. " What is everybody's business is nobody's." And
so our school-houses are often neglected. Sometimes ob-
stinacy, selfishness or a Avant of taste intei'feres to prevent
any improvement in school-houses or school premises. —
These obstacles are met everywhere. But men often mis-
take. He who invests a dollar to make a pleasant, con-
venient, attractive home for school children, will not, in
the tliereafter, regret it. No man ever made an invest-
ment in the hearts of children who did not afterward re-
joice in generous dividends.

In most cases our school-rooms are too small. There
is scarcely one in town so large as it ought to be for the
complete accommodation of the scholars. Some school-
rooms are only lialf the size they ought to be. Health,
convenience, the best interest of the school, all require
ample room — ample room for school desks — ample space
in the floor — convenient accommodations for the disposal
of clothing — and liberal room for blackboards and recita-
tion. In many school I'ooins, now, (hcrr is scarcely a

black board worth the name. Other thing's go to match.
Tlie writing desks are often ill-arranged — the teacher's
desk is perched in some awkward and inconvenient cor-
ner — the stove is " under foot" — and Avith no convenient
accommodations for recitation, the whole aspect within is
decidedly repulsive. It ought to be the reverse. In these
sclioohhouses the teacher is cramped for space and takes
things at a decided disadvantage. A very little expense
would often remedy these proininent defects in our school
rooms. In liuilding new school-houses, let the dimensions
be liberal. Give teacher and scholars room enough. A
house of ample size costs but little more than one of
cramped dimensions. We make these suggestions in re-
gard to our school-houses, hoping they will invite thought
for the hereafter.


A word of text-books. We find our schools deplorably
deficient in the supjily of Dictionaries. In one school
we found but one — and that was the teacher's. Some
teachers are not always supplied with a good Dictionary.
Poor compliment to a teacher ! Every child that can
read well in the Third Reader, Towne's or Sargent's,
ought to be taught to use the dictionary — more or less.
Let him learn to work, inquire, investigate and criticise
early. Our. scholars are not sufficiently taught to be" ex-
act and ci'itical in language. And very many teachers,
for lack of early discipline in this direction, often find
their own ideas " lying round loose " and wanting in
method, as well as in correctness and precision. No won-
der their pupils are no better trained in the use of lan-
guage. No teacher does his duty \vho does not urge a
constant reference, to the dictionaiy upon his pupils. And
here we would take occasion to recommend Worcester's
New Comprehensive Dictionary, as being chea[), in most

convenient ihnn, and contciining a great amount of infor-
mation. No teacher, certainly, who has not an ' Unabridg-
ed ' should he without it. And it should go into the hands
of all our seniur pupils in the Common Schools. We study
Language, LiteratnrOj too little, and Arithmetic too much.

True, we have ' Grammar ' taught in our schools — pro-
fessedly so. But surely to little practical benefit. We
have definitions, learned terms, in abundance, but little
common sense in our grammars, to meet the needs of the
pupil. Here and there a live thought from some live
teacher, may be dropped into the heart of the pupil. But,
as a general thing, language is miserabl}^ taught in our
common schools. It ought to be the first, great, promi-
nent lesson to be impressed upon the heart and taste of
the pupil — for, through life, it is to be his daily need. He
should learn to read the language well, talk it Avell, and
ivrite it well. Letter-writing should be thoroughly taught
in school. As it is, it is scarcely attended to at all. Let-
ter-writing is one of the practical wants of our people.

Perhaps we may startle some people by saying that full
one-half the time devoted to the study of Arithmetic, in
our schools, is time thrown away. It could better be given
to the study of something more practically useful — some-
thing that better widens our sphere of intelligence, im-
proves and refines the taste and disciplines the intellect.
This " everlasting ciphering " in our schools is an abom-
ination. We find scholars plodding through " GreenleaPs
National," whose general taste and intelligence are wo-
fidly at fault. Their minds are as barren as Sahara. They
have little stock of general information in geography, his-
tory, biography or literature generally, or in the elements,
even, of science. And they are as often very deficient in
language to express what they do know. Their principal
god in the school-room is old "Father Greenleaf" — well
enough in his place — but who sits like a very incubus

upon t]ie spii-its of" onv schnhirs. Wo speak oarnostly in
this matter because we Ix'noiu tliis tyranny of ' figures ' is
doing a sad wrong in our schools. It is time to h)ok tlii«
matter in the face. It is time for people to know and un-
derstand that salvation does not come by ' ciphering.' —
We would put the " Town Officer " into scliool, and the
State Constitution, and the National Constitution, to be
studied during a part of the time tliat is now devoted to
Arithmetic. A boy so educated will be worth more to
the town as a citizen than a mere walking Multiplication
Table. And to this we are sure every sensible man will
say ' Amen.'

'teachers and teachers' meetings.

Our limits will not allow us to sv)^ much of our teach-
ers and their teacliing. We have found much to com-
mend, and something to regret. Our symi)athies are with
our young teachers. If they do their duty, their task is
a laborious one — and frequently unappreciated. Let them
always be treated Avith great charity and kindness ; and
where a generous word of sympathy ca^n be given, let it
be tendere.d. Visit their schools— aid them, support them,
stand by them. It is an ungenerous hand that strikes at
a teacher and destroys his influence — that scatters thorns
in his pathway instead of flowers and blessings. It is al-
most an angel deed to stand by, and help on, these weary
toilers who are struggling nobly to discharge a noble
duty. Heaven bless them — and their labors. And for
service worthily rendered, let the reward be generous
and ungrudged.

An attempt was made last season to hold a series of
Teachers' meetings. It was partially snccessful. We
earnestly urge our young teachers to such meetings —
meetings for interchange of thought and suggestion in
respect to their duties. The teacher who is truly alive


In lii^s or lior fluty — wlio would make himself a cJtaracfcr
;is an intelligent, jirogressive, sjMi-ited worker, will not
fail to be interested in teachers' meetings. If there are
•any that drop into our school-houses who have not some-
thing of this feeling, they lack the true spirit of the edu-
cator. Their place is somewhere else. '■' Let the dead
bury their dead,"

Following, we give brief notices of thfe individual
schools. We have taken no pains to seek out faults and
imperfections. Rather have we striven to commend, so
far as we conscientiously could. And we have found
much to commend — still hoping that in the hereafter we
shall find more.

DISTRICT No. 1. Turnpike.

Summer Term, l() weeks. Number of scholars, 28 ;
tardy, 17 ; dismissals, 9 ; Miss Sarah E. Giles of Kings-
ton, teacher. Miss Giles has had but little experience in
teaching ; but we have no doubt she labored conscienti-
ously and did the best she could for the school. The disci-
pline of the school, and the progress made by the pupils,
though not marked, appeared to be respectable. More
experience, and a little more energy in discipline, would
contribute much to the success of Miss Giles as a teach-
er. She gives us no record of her experience in the
school in her returned Register, as she ought to have
done; but we believe the term was a pleasant one, and
the scholars well-disposed and harmonious.

The Winter Term, under the care of Miss Lizzie M.
Hodgdon of Lee, is not 3'et finished. The number of
scholars is 40 ; and the school, under the efficient disci-
pline of Miss Hodgdon, appears to be doing admirably
well. But, like many others in town, the school-house in
this district is a poor one — too poor to be called respec-
table. It is too small, in the first place — quite inconven-
ient in arrangement and wears a shabby aspect within.

School money, $102,98.

Seth W. -Woodjian, Prudential Cominiitee.


DISTRICT No. 2. Mast Road and Pond Hill.

Summer Term, 10 weeks. Number of scholars, 22 ;
tardy, 19; dismissals, 8: j\Iiss Annie M. Plummer of Lee,
teacher. The scholars, at this term, appear to have been
very punctual in their attendance ; and the teacher sa3^s,
in her report, " Some were industrious in their habits,
while others were careless and negligent." We think
Miss Plummer succeeded very well in her school, as a
young teacher, and gave good satisfaction. The teacher
testifies to the good accommodations afforded in the
school-room, saying, in her Register, " Its style and con-
dition are more than ordinarily good ; and every thing
seems subservient to the comfort of the scholars." It is
pleasant to find one teacher who is satisfied with the
* shop ' in which she works. The School Register is neat-
ly kept, blanks well filled, and some good ' remarks ' — re-
gretting that parents neglected to visit the school as of-
ten as they ought.

The Winter Term is still in session, with Miss Marilla
M. Young of New Durham, teacher. The term will be
about 17 weeks, and the number of scholars 29. Miss
Young is a teacher of good qualifications and considera-
ble experience. The discipline in her school has not been
so rigid as that in No. 1 — whether wisely or unwisely so,
we do not pretend to affirm. Discipline in different
schools is often wisely varied. The term here has been
an agreeable one, thus far, and improvement in scholar-
ship decidedly good. A few advanced scholars in mathe-
matics, in this school, add much to its character.

Anaount of school money, $132,62.

Joseph Jones, Prudential Committee.

DISTRICT No. 3. Wednesday Hill.

Summer Jfej-w, 7 weeks. Number of scholars, 11; tar-
dy, 7 ; dismissals, 1 ; Miss Olive A. Leggett of Lee, teach-
er. At {he first visit of the Committee to this school, we
were well pleased with its appearance. Everything in
connection with the management of the school seemed to
tell for its advantage. But, unfortunately, during the pro-
gress of the term, some dissatisfaction arose, on the part


of some parents. The School Committee were summoned
to investigate the matter, who, however, under the cir-
cumstances, concluded to let the school go on under the
charge of Miss Leggett, though we fear it was not attend-
ed with very good success. Nor, on the other hand, do
we think those who were most dissatisfied had sufficient
cause for any serious complaint. We think the teacher,
though young and inexperienced, if she had received the
united support of the district, would have been compara-
tively successful. Register, imperfect.

Winter Term, 6 weeks. Number of scholars, 11 ; tar-
dy, 41 ; dismissals, none ; taught by Edwin J. Roberts of
Barnstead. This was his first attempt at teaching, but
considering the circumstances, he was tolerably success-
ful. Good order was observed ; and though the term
was short, the improvement made was very creditable. —
The school-house in this district is in a poor condition.
Residents of No. 3 ! why not arouse in regard to educa-
tional matters and build a new school-house, as some oth-
er districts in town have done ? We think there are
bright intellects among the scholars of this district that
deserve better accommodations and more thorough in-

Amount of school money, $43, 8G.

William A. Jenkins, Pradcntiul Committee.

DISTRICT No. 4. Hill.

Summer Term, 14 weeks. Number of scholars, (not
reported, but the average giveii is 27 ;) tardy, 71 ; dis-
missals, 22 ; Annie L. Thompson of Candia, teacher, who,
we think, labored very faithfully to do her whole duty. —
Her school, though made up, in part, of some noisy ele-
ments, was under good discipline ; and commendable im-
provement was made by the pupils. The Register of this
term was not fully kept ; and the page appropriated for
" Remarks by the Teacher," is entirely blank. Well, " the
least said is the soonest mended ;'' but a very faithful re-
port by the teacher is what the Committee expect.

The Winter Term, Annie M. Plummer of Lee, teacher,
is not yet completed. It will be about 13 weeks; and
the whole number of scholars 37. We have already spoken


creditably of the teaclier in our report of the Summer
term in No. 2. We tliink her success has been equally
good here, thus far. We are not able to make a full re-
port of the school, under the circumstances.
School money, $96,60.

N. D. Meserve, Prudential Committee.

Possibly, in another connection, we may have a remark
on school-houses in general. But, in passing, let us say
a word of this, in No. 4, in particular, as we do of some
others. Nor shall we be thought rude in the remark that
the location of this school-house, well as we love all the
dear memories connected with it, is a most dreary and
uninviting one, with no sheltering trees or scarcely a
blade of grass, in the immediate vicinit}', to hide the
" nakedness of the land." And j'et, barren as is the spot
— bleak in winter and fiery in summer — the heart of him
who pens this, still clings to it, even with boyhood love.

" Be it a weakness, it deserves some pnise —
We love the plaj'-place of our early days."

But we should have loved this spot much better, had it,
in those " early days," been more tastefully fitted up with
an eye to social culture and comfort — if the premises had
been rendered more commodious and pleasant, with here
and there a flower or tree with which to link a school-boy
memory. Ah, well, there will be found ' preachers ' in
dear old '' No. 4 " who, as they read our lines, will ex-
claim, as he of old, '' Vanity of vanities." But we tell
them, nay ! " Man shall not live by bread alone." Nor is
it always best to school our hearts to that sad philosophy

" That loves no music but the dollar's chink."

And that blessed old school house on the plain- — rude as
it is, and rude as it was- — how many a wanderer Avill re-
member it as the shrine of kind afl'ections and early vows
■ — as the starting goal of their intellectual journeying
where, it may liave been, some prophet hand first touch-
ed their young lips with a living coal; or stirred their
young pulse as by a voice from Heaven.

Well — Heaven bless old '* No. 4" — all the parents and
all the children. For auld lung syne we have said what


we have ; yet praying that some blessed influence will
eteal into the hearts of our old friends and find its way
out in that action which shall give them a better scbool-
room and improved school premises.

DISTRICT No. 5. Hook.

There was but one term in this district — that in the
Autumn, which continued, as we believe, about seventeen
Aveeks, Number of scholars, 21 ; tardy, 37 ; dismissals, 7,
This school was under the care of Miss Belinda S. Bunk-
er of Rye, till within three weeks of its close. The term
was completed by Miss Hannah E. Harvey of Nottingham.
Miss Bunker is a teacher of much experience, and is an
industrious and energetic worker. Her heart seemed to
be in her school and her success admirable. Miss Harvey,
in completing the term, acqmtted herself, we have no
doubt, with equal success. Owing to circumstances, the
school was not visited by the Committee while the latteF
teacher was engaged in it. But we trust to her former
reputation, as teacher. We regret, however, that both
these teachers failed to give the Committee such a report
of the school in their Register ' Renaarks ' as we desire
to have. Hence we are unable to judge so fully of the
e-haracter of the school, of the general deportr/ient of the
&chol-ars and their progress in study, as we would be glad
to. Scho'ol money, $76,14.

I>ANiEL. W. Burleigh, Prudential Committee.

DISTRICT No. 6. Wad-ley's Falls.

Sumvter Term, 14 weeks. Number of scholars, 31 ;
tardy, 75 ; dismissals, 20. Miss Francena J. Sawyer of
Lee, was the teacher, this term. Amount of school money,.
$107,25. This was Miss Sawyer's first experience in teach-
ing ; but we must say that the evidence she gave of her
ability and aptness to teach, encourages us in the opinion
that, with more experience, she will become an ornament
to her profession. Her school was composed, principally,
of small scholars, man^^ of whom were idle and restless,
and consequently requiring much patience and energy to
bring them under good discipline. But nud(^r tlu^- rare of


Miss Sawj'er, the school made such progress as does credit
to her honest and persevering efforts. She says in her
Report : ** The Summer has been pleasantly and, I hope,
profitably spent. As this was my first attempt at teach-
ing, and with former schoolmates for pupils, I felt some-
what embarrassed, at first, and labored under some diffi-
culties. But my pupils have been respectful and obedi-
ent, with scarcely an exception."

The Winter Term was commenced by Mr. Wilbur Dur-
ell of New Market. But he remained only a few weeks
in school. No Register has been returned by him. Con-
sequently we can give no definite statement in regard to
his school.

After Mr. Durell left. Miss Olevia Haley of Lee, was em-
ployed to complete the term. She reports a term of 6
weeks, and 24 scholars. Tardy, 92 ; dismissals, 11. In
her Report -she says : " I found this a pleasant school. I
think more interest would be felt by both teacher and


Online LibraryLee (N.H. : Town)Report of the superintending school committee of the Town of Lee, N.H. for the year ending (1863) → online text (page 1 of 2)