This page conforms to the XHTML standard and uses style sheets. If your browser doesn't support these, you may not see the page as designed, but all the text is still accessible to you.

SCHENECTADY DIGITAL HISTORY ARCHIVE

Bringing the heritage of Schenectady County, New York to the world since 1996

You are here: Home » Education » Neisuler's History » Chapter XI

The History of Education in Schenectady, 1661-62 — 1961-62
Chapter XI: Brubacher's Constructive 'Era of Good Feeling'

Go back to Chapter X | ahead to Chapter XII

[This information is from pp. 122-147 of The History of Education in Schenectady, 1661-62 — 1961-62 by Jeanette G. Neisuler (Schenectady: Board of Education, City School District, 1964), and is reproduced here with the permission of the author. It is in the Schenectady Collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at Schdy R 370.9747 N41, and copies are also available for borrowing.]

With the elevation of Dr. Abraham Roger Brubacher from principal of the high school to superintendent over all the schools, Schenectady inaugurated its own private "Era of Good Feeling." Dr. Brubacher was the essence of consideration and diplomacy. He created an atmosphere of peace and progress which enveloped the Board of Education, the school staff, and the public, and made his administration fairly glitter with achievements.

Dr. Brubacher was born at Lebanon, Pennsylvania, on July 27, 1870. He was educated at Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts and at Yale College, receiving from there a B. A. in 1897 and a Ph.D. in 1902. He began his career by teaching Latin and Greek, became principal of Gloversville High School in 1902 and principal of the high school in Schenectady in 1905. Three years later he accepted the superintendency of the Schenectady school system.

By the time Dr. Brubacher undertook the management of the city schools there were as many children in the schools as there had been people in the entire town when free schools first started, little more than half a century before. Edison's coming, toward the end of the 19th century, had set off a full scale building boom in the Fair Grounds area — Duane Avenue, Craig Street, Schenectady Street, Hamilton Street. This vast section, part of the common lands owned by the city and known as the Poor Farm, or County Farm, had been the scene of early county fairs, agricultural exhibitions, and trotting races during the last half of the century. Circuses, ball games and bicycle races drew Schenectadians to the spot, and at the end of the century, it became the home grounds of the famous Schenectady baseball team, New York State League

1900-1910 Sees 100 Per cent More Schenectadians

Despite fluctuations in the economic temperature of the city, the population climb had been steady and unceasing. The population figure, which for the year 1900 had stood at 36,682, had, within five years, passed the 58,000 mark, and within another five years was waving farewell to 72,500, a 100 per cent gain within a decade. The first five years of Dr. Brubacher's administration saw a growth of 55 per cent in the northeastern part of the Second Ward, a 41 per cent rise in Mont Pleasant, 29 per cent in the upper State Street area, 27 per cent in the middle city (Fourth, Fifth, Seventh and Thirteenth Wards), 22 per cent in Bellevue, and 5 per cent in the territory adjoining Union Street from the lower town to the Eleventh Ward. Shortly after the turn of the century, the city's population was increased still further by the expansion of its boundaries to include Mont Pleasant and Bellevue.

Pupil Increase, Too

This unceasing rise in the city population had its counterpart in the school population. During Dr. Brubacher's term, the number of school children went from a little over 9,000 to 13,500, the high school alone increasing from 400 to 1,400. The evil of part-time schooling continued to gnaw away at efficiency and learning. It was, the Superintendent complained, the greatest single cause of non-promotion. It was responsible for more fatigue, more illness, more absences, more failures, and more wasted tax money than anything else. Pupils received only 70 per cent of full school hours, he pointed out, and 50 per cent of the teachers taught only 70 per cent of full school hours but collected full pay.

Double Sessions Cause Problems

When Dr. Brubacher came to his new office, 5,400 out of a total of 9,000 children were afflicted with the scourge of part-time schooling. The high school tried using a nearby house as a temporary annex, but the school's population continued to climb so precipitously that make-shift measures proved absurd.

Even the comparative minor matter of checking on truancy left school authorities slightly hysterical. If a pupil were accused of having been absent from a morning class, he claimed he belonged in an afternoon class; if he were charged with having missed an afternoon class, he insisted he was a member of the morning class. The observation that Schenectady probably had a "greater struggle to keep its school housing facilities abreast with the increase in population than any other eastern city" (1) was undoubtedly well-rooted in fact.

School Building Expansion

This does not mean that the struggle was abandoned. In 1893, Mont Pleasant School with six rooms had been built on the corner of Third Avenue and Orchard Street at a cost of $4,700; in 1905, the eleven-room Elmer Avenue School was built on the corner of Elmer and Eastern Avenues at a cost of $29,700; and in 1907, Avenue B School, with eighteen rooms was built on the corner of Avenue B and Mason Street at a cost of $50,400.

Then, within the first year of Dr. Brubacher's term, there was a spurt in the school building program and three, eight-room schools went up: the Centre Street School on South Centre Street (now Broadway) at a cost of $88,000; the Eleanor Street School at a cost of $45,000; the Mumford Street School on the corner of Mumford and Van Voast streets at a cost of 45,000; two, twenty-room schools: the Robinson Street School at a cost of $100,000 and the Congress Street School on the corner of Congress Street and Fifth Avenue at a cost of $48,300; an eighteen-room school, the Craig Street School on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Craig Street at a cost of $44,000; and an addition of four rooms to Elmer Avenue School at a cost of $10,000.

The Willett Street School, with eight rooms, at a cost of $45,000 was next to go up and then, though school population rose by 2,500 during the next four years, the Baker Avenue School, with thirteen rooms, erected in 1910 at a cost of $97,000, and an addition of seven rooms to the Albany Street School constituted the only school construction. All those in existence, however, were considered by the Board to be in satisfactory condition except Nott Terrace School built in 1883, Clinton School built in 1889, and Park Place School built in 1892. Clinton was the worst in the city. Besides having poor heating, ventilation and plumbing, a report stated, the school's "floor joists have such long spans that the floors vibrate unduly under the movement of the children. Whenever a class marches over any room-floor, the windows rattle, giving a feeling of insecurity. The halls are exceedingly dark and unsanitary…" (2)

School Names Changed

Although there was a lull in the building program, certain more minor signs of modernization were discernible. In the past, officials had been in the habit of initiating a fire drill by entering a school and yelling "Fire!" This procedure, understandably, caused a certain amount of annoyance to the principals and to the fire chief, who sent a letter to the Board about it. A fire gong was installed in each school, and full responsibility for fire drills was placed upon principals and janitors. In 1908, the schools had acquired telephones, and in 1911, new names.

Albany Street School was renamed Halsey School in honor of Charles S. Halsey, much loved principal of U.C.I., 1875-1897. Centre Street School became Edison School for Thomas A. Edison, inventor. Eleanor Street School was changed to Fulton School for Robert Fulton, inventor. Mumford Street School was renamed Washington Irving School for Washington Irving, writer. Robinson Street School became Lincoln School, honoring Abraham Lincoln, President.

Congress Street School was changed to Seward School for William H. Seward, Secretary of State; Craig Street School honored Horace Mann, educator and Willett Street School commemorated the name of William McKinley, President. Baker Avenue School became Howe School for Samuel Howe, revered Superintendent of City Schools, 1868-1905 and Avenue B School, Franklin School for Benjamin Franklin, statesman.

A citizens' petition five years before, asking that the new high school on Nott Terrace continue the name, Union Classical Institute had been denied, and the Superintendent had in 1907, to request the Board of Regents to change the name to the Schenectady High School.

Paintings, Pianos, Desks and Textbooks

The space problem, although a chronic headache, was far from being the only school matter which required attention. During this period, children for the first time brought home regular report cards. Also for the first time, the schools started keeping statistical records concerning the children. Dr. Brubacher was disturbed by the school's neglect of the cultural side of a child's life. "Our school rooms have bare walls," he said. "The children sit day after day facing walls with barely a sign of the beauty art can give. We need a large supply of pictures for this purpose and until we secure them our children are not getting the best education we can give them." (3) Pianos, too, he felt were needed to enrich and beautify the classroom. (4) The child's physical well-being must also be safeguarded, he felt. Where desks were too high, he arranged that footstools be brought in as a temporary relief, and the old-fashioned double furniture still being used, he called "antiquated" and "unsanitary". He recommended the replacement of the approximately four hundred such seats still remaining.

To Dr. Brubacher, free and equal education implied free and equal tools for learning. As soon as a new law paved the way, he saw to it that children were supplied with free textbooks. In 1909, little first and second graders were the first to reap the benefits. The Board at the same time allotted $2,000 for more maps, globes, and dictionaries.

Individualized Education Backed

Everything that Dr. Brubacher did for school children testified to his early acceptance of the philosophy that each child must be valued as an individual. "No two children are exactly alike," he emphasized more than fifty years ago. "They will show variation of temperament, of taste, of capacity, of application, etc. No two children can safely receive the same educational treatment. It is the business of the teacher to discover the individuality and adapt her matter and method to it." (5) The Board supported his attitude. Its 1910 Annual Report carried this statement by the Supervisor of Primary Work: "It must be clearly recognized that the only practical problems for a pupil are those which have to do with his actual experience." A teacher teaches not arithmetic, she said, not reading, but the child. "Whatever makes for the development of the powers of the child is the work of (the) grade, not a list of subjects… These are merely means to the one end, character building… The effect upon the mind of the child is the most important result of teaching…" (6) When a child's interest is stimulated, his attention is brought into focus and then his memory goes to work, the Supervisor pointed out, so that instead of a jumble of facts, he has collected a body of useful, related ideas.

One hundred years ago, education began to question the use of the rod as a teaching device. Now, fifty years later, rote teaching was coming under attack. With the gradual acceptance of these unprecedented and far-reaching attitudes, education would turn another corner of progress.

Some attitudes of a half-century ago are startlingly ahead of their time. But none seems more so than a statement by the principal of the high school in 1911:

The pupils are granted the maximum freedom consistent with good conduct. It is doubtless easier to run a school with rigid discipline and much red tape. The most beneficial and lasting results are, however, obtained by utilizing the child's naturalness and openness in such a way that habits of self-reliance, self-restraint, independence of thought and action, regard of rights of others and kindliness become permanently fixed and the pupil is made to realize that he is a responsible part of the social community. (7)

Special Classes Begin

Practical interpretation of all these beliefs led to the veritable network of special classes which began to criss-cross the curriculum. Most of these special classes stemmed from one basic problem common to both city and school: the huge number of foreigners. "Old Dorp" was no longer a small collection of congenial families all within a few minutes' walk from the center of town; it was an enterprising manufacturing center with people of all nationalities flocking to already dangerously congested areas. The city authorities were worried sick about the danger of Schenectady's becoming a "squalid factory town." And the school authorities were obsessed with the related problem of "backwardness." The two main causes of backwardness in schools, they felt, were ignorance of the English language and malnutrition. Dr. Brubacher, the school staff and the school board joined hands to stamp out these causes by every means available.

Open-air Classes

In certain sections where malnutrition was particularly prevalent, the schools supplied a breakfast of bread and milk, and in winter, a hot lunch. Then in the summer of 1911, in a tent, 25' x 50' with an attached kitchen, near a pine grove on the grounds of the Fulton School, an Open-air School was started. There, underweight and anemic children (carefully screened to keep out the tubercular) were given nutritious meals, rest, recreation, regular school subjects and medical attention. The gains in weight and in general health were so spectacular that the project changed immediately from a summer experiment to a full-time obligation. "Open-air" rooms with cheese cloth covered screens fitted into open windows were set aside in old buildings and planned for in new. Here, children, bundled up in heavy cloaks, felt boots and warm hoods, studied and grew strong. (8)

Ungraded Groups

Fcr those children who were falling behind in their work, whatever the reason, but primarily for those with a language handicap, ungraded classes were established in 1912. Free from a grade label, free from ridicule, in smaller-thanaverage classes, these frustrated youngsters were given concentrated doses of individual attention, and, in most cases, their difficulties were successfully overcome. In time, one ungraded class was required in each school, two, in the larger ones. It was to help these same children that the first summer school classes, called Vacation Schools, were started three years later.

Feeble-minded Separated

Another phase of the School's determination to try to give each child a custom-tailored education was the work done in behalf of the feeble-minded. Up to this time, these unfortunates were kept right in the regular classroom where they succeeded only in disrupting the work and demoralizing the attitudes of the other children. They, themselves, in these surroundings were subjected to torment and deprived of their deserved attention. With the use of the Simon-Binet tests to locate those in need of help a class was started for feeble-minded children in February, 1912, in Nott Terrace School. At first it was called an Atypical class, to spare the participants, their parents and their friends possible embarrassment. The work of the class, while it included some reading, writing, arithmetic, drawing and singing, was predominantly handwork. The purpose of the class was to teach these handicapped youngsters to care for themselves, and, if possible, by training them in some simple occupation, to help them become self-supporting. This first class grew quickly to include seventeen pupils, but tests the following year disclosed that there were eighty feeble-minded children in the system, and classes were offered in five other schools of the city.

Steinmetz Elected Board President

In 1912, Dr. Charles Proteus Steinmetz became President of the Board of Education. Born in Breslau, Germany, and educated at the university there, Dr. Steinmetz was forced to leave Germany because of an editorial he had written. In 1893, he joined the General Electric engineering staff in Schenectady. His superior mind gave him lofty ideals for mankind, and his dwarflike, misshapen body gave him understanding sympathy for the unfortunate. Like Dr. Brubacher, he was courageous, inventive, far-sighted, and dedicated to the cause of education. (9) Together the "Wizard of Schenectady" and the Superintendent made an unbeatable team.

New School Charter Brings Politicians

Almost unbeatable, that is. There were some hurdles which neither they nor anyone else in the school system could surmount. In 1908, a new school charter had become effective. Instead of a ten-member board, it provided for five members. They were to be appointed by the mayor, the terms of three of the members to expire one year, and the terms of two members the next. By this means each mayor elected for two years had the power to appoint an entirely new Board of Education. Referring to this in 1912, the board complained that when anything went wrong at the schools, the public came straight to the board or superintendent. But under the city charter and the special education law for Schenectady, neither the board, nor the superintendent, nor the principals had any power. The board had the right to appoint the educational staff, it admitted, but all other rights, like filling all other positions and spending any school money, either from budget or bond issue, had been taken away. Even supervision and powers of approval had been taken from the board and given to city officials,

…coming into office and going out of office with the mayor who appoints them, so that if that law had been specially devised to encourage the use of educational department funds for rewarding politicians for services rendered, and to simplify and encourage graft, it could not have been more suitable for the purpose… It is creditably stated that some years ago a number of school buildings were constructed without the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools ever seeing the plans or knowing anything about the school buildings, until they were completed and turned over to the Education Department. (10)

Besides being outspoken, this board of half a century ago was unusually forward-looking. After much serious study and heated discussion,

…the hollow square was finally agreed upon as the… best suited for our city, where the cost of land is not yet so excessive as to excuse the crowding together of school rooms… This construction makes all school rooms outside rooms, with unrestricted light and air, provides light corridors and numerous exits, and the-inside square affords an excellent playground for the lower grades… (11)

Schools Built

By 1914, three more schools had been erected: the Seventh Avenue, which replaced the Sixth Avenue, and was named Hamilton School in honor of Alexander Hamilton, had twenty-eight rooms and cost $210,000; the Van Corlaer School on Guilderland Avenue, named in honor of Arent Van Corlaer, the founder of Schenectady, which had sixteen rooms and cost $119,500; and Yates School on Salina Street, which was named in honor of Joseph Yates, the first Mayor of Schenectady, and had seventeen rooms and cost $140,000. Since only one of these — the Hamilton School — was of the hollow-square type, it is possible that further serious study and even more heated discussion ensued at subsequent board meetings and elsewhere.

Brubacher Strengthens School-Community Relations

During Dr. Brubacher's term, there was a decided improvement in public relations. Early school boards had jealously guarded the schools from the public. Now for the first time, the public's interest and understanding were being sought. "The schools should be the center of community life," said Dr. Brubacher. "I hope to see these rooms (assembly rooms in schools) become the social center of their respective communities." (12) A copy of the Annual School Report went home with each child, parents were urged to visit the schools, branch libraries were opened in school buildings and lectures were presented to which the public was invited. All of these means were conscious attempts to dissolve both public awe and indifference.

Besides wooing the public, the schools ventured into other fields which, while not strictly educational, were closely related the welfare of school children. Organized games, with suitable equipment and an instructor in charge, were introduced at outdoor playgrounds. Indoor playgrounds, swimming pools and shower baths were also established. To provide instruction and recreation, and to keep children off the streets, school gardens were developed. They grew into community gardens and were so successful that they were headed for enlargement into a city enterprise.

Inside the school room, scholastic standards became more specific. For the pupils, Regents examinations were back again as the standard of measurement to replace "the judgement or whim of the individual teacher." For the teacher, syllabi of the work of the various departments, developed by a committee of principals, were distributed for help and guidance.

Staffing Problems

Individual teachers welcomed help and guidance; the profession as a whole was in need of a lift. No one, it seemed, held it in very high esteem. Educators were disturbed by the poor quality of training with which many teachers were equipped, and teachers were deserting the profession for more lucrative positions at a shocking rate. Vacancies in the school system sometimes reached as high as 12 per cent a year.

Substitute teaching had some time ago reached ridiculous proportions. Some classes had no regular teacher at all. One class was "taught" by a string of twenty-one different teachers within one school year. Since neither license nor experience was required, it was not long before the connection between the increase in substitutes and the increase in repeaters and drop-outs became inescapable. Though Dr. Brubacher succeeded in restricting this practice, he actually broadened the use of substitute teachers. He recommended the introduction of a corps of regular substitute teachers who "will report daily to serve certain assigned buildings and when there is no absentee teacher, the substitute will give her time to the backward pupils or the routine work of the buildings." (13) In the high school, too, when there was no absentee teacher, the substitute was to help first-year pupils with their difficulties with new subjects or to help backward pupils. This procedure became standard practice, carrying over even into the next administration. The 1918 school directory carried the name of a "Coach Teacher" for almost every school.

Teacher Training Standards Set

The inadequate training of so many of Schenectady's teachers was a source of great concern to Dr. Brubacher. It was he who had first recommended that the school on Brandywine Avenue be opened as a Teachers' Training and Model School. Due to his insistence, a resolution was adopted in 1910 which stated that no teacher should be employed in the elementary grades who did not hold a Normal School Diploma, a State Certificate, a College Graduate — Limited, a Schenectady Training School Diploma or a College Graduate Professional Certificate. People having only a high school education would henceforth have no place on the staff.

Dr. Brubacher also placed a new emphasis upon manners, morals and methods of the teacher. A child absorbed good manners and morals from a teacher of high character and noble purpose, he believed. And as for method, he considered it more important than the subject matter. "Primary methods are a science and no teacher can today hope to succeed with lower grades unless the science of instruction has been mastered." (14)

Pay Rate Raised

Along with the raising of professional standards came a pay boost. The minimum for grade teachers was raised from $450.00 to $500.00 a year with a maximum of $750.00 to $800.00. An improved system of pay during illness was instituted, five days' absence allowed each half year for specific reasons, and when a teacher was quarantined because of a contagious disease in her dwelling place, she was allowed full pay during the entire period of her absence.

Male Teacher Desired

One other attitude toward teachers underwent a revision at this time. Early teachers had all been men. After the opening of the free school system, the male teacher faded almost entirely from the scene. The one spot in the school system reserved for men was the principalship, and all principals were men. Now the pendulum was in motion again. The principal of the Teachers' Training recommended that males be drawn into practice work for the fourth through the eighth grades. "Parents," he said, "wish their children to come in contact with masculine characteristics somewhere along the line in the elementary teaching." (15)

During his term, Dr. Brubacher was successful in his drive to place a principal in every school. He supported the idea of having the principal not only help in matters of discipline and in assisting the teachers, but in taking over some of the actual teaching. The female teacher was satisfactory up to the sixth grade, he thought, but after that "the masculine element became highly desirable." He hastened to add that he was not asserting that the man was a better teacher than a woman but that for the adolescent, "a robust masculine point of view" would have a beneficial result. (16)

Education for What?

The over-all goals that the schools were striving toward can be evaluated only in the light of the material with which they had to work. More than half the children in the city schools had parents employed by one or the other of the two big manufacturing companies. By 1914, over 54 per cent of Schenectady's school children were either foreign or from homes with strong foreign backgrounds. The college preparatory curriculum, previously considered universally desirable, was ill-adapted to the abilities and aspirations of most of these children. The law gave children permission to drop out of school as soon as they had reached the age of fourteen. Armed with legal permission in one hand and a labor certificate in the other, the fourteen-year-old had almost no difficulty choosing between a meaningless (to him) classroom and the attractive industrial world.

The law made feeble amends by stipulating that all children over the age of fourteen and under the age of sixteen who were legally employed must attend evening school. The evening school which was started in Dr. Howe's time (when Dr. Brubacher was principal of the high school) had quickly expanded into evening high school. And from this shell, Adult Education had pecked its way, at first offering only classes in English for the swarms of eager immigrants. Before long, evening classes included pupils from the ages of fourteen to fifty who were enrolled in everything from elementary work to high school and civil service subjects.

In 1908, New York State enacted a law which provided that working children from fourteen to sixteen years old who were not in regular school must attend four to eight hours at special daytime classes. As far as the schools were concerned, these part-time schooling provisions were not a cure of the ailment, merely a camouflage. A child reached his fourteenth birthday during the seventh or eighth grade. Considering his youth, he could earn a very satisfying wage. Unfortunately, it was not long before his job was being challenged by other fourteen-year olds.From then on, he was forced to compete in the job market of unskilled labor on an equal footing with adults. In periods of business slack, he discovered how fast he became expendable.

First Steps in Vocational Education

The challenge to the schools was plain. Said Dr. Brubacher, "We must seek to keep our boys and girls in school throughout the elementary period and we must provide a foundational training in the elementary school which shall equip each child to the extent of its natural ability to take its place in the ranks of industry and commerce." (17) There was a growing conviction in educational circles that the ability to work in one field transferred itself to other fields. A mind trained in science or mathematics, people assumed, would become stronger and more flexible in all other mental spheres. Similarly, hands trained in woodworking, say, would become more adept in any other manual effort. Equally important, handwork would awaken a respect for the dignity of labor. As a result of this attitude, manual training acquired a new status. In 1908, a school, referred to in school reports as the "School of Technology," was started in Nott Street School (now the County Welfare building). It had fifty boys and two teachers, and its purpose was to emphasize things pertaining to the manual arts. Half of each day was devoted to woodworking, blue prints, and designs, and the other half-day was given over to schoolroom work taught with special application to shop and factory. The venture proved so successful that it was duplicated two years later in Lincoln School. These were practice shots in the direction of a vocational school. An Annual Report of the period said, "A course in mechanical drawing and simple handwork… will connect the school and the world of production and distribution." (18)

Brubacher Urges Expansion and Guidance

Manual training itself was an outgrowth of the early kindergarten which stressed creative construction — needlework, weaving, clay modeling and paper folding. But as training for a factory job, its inadequacy was soon obvious. While Dr. Brubacher was still principal of the high school, he said:

In the seventh and eighth grades we are not now teaching manual training at all. It is my plan to make the work here far more intensive and practical. We want to take the boys and girls who expect to leave school on becoming 14, and give them intensive training in shop figuring, business geography, the history of trade, business English and bookkeeping, and we want further to give them a practical knowledge of and skill in the handling of tools, a practical knowledge of woods, fabrics, materials, processes of manufacture… We want to make them efficient in some line of industry by the time they reach their sixteenth year… Since we are primarily a city of machinist trades, our problem is comparatively simple… By developing our scientific and technical high school course, these same boys can be carried through wood-turning, pattern-making, forging, and moulding and so be prepared to enter the industrial establishments of our city as skilled employees. Our industrial concerns stand ready to cooperate with us, and will give full or partial credit for such work in their apprentice courses… The State will support this work with special financial aid, by paying from 20 to 30 percent of all salaries to be paid these teachers… (19)

Before he left, the Superintendent made one other suggestion of practical and far-reaching value. "A vocational school should be built at once," he said, "to provide practical instruction for those boys and girls who cannot be held in school through the High School." In this connection he recommended an industrial survey of the city. "All trades and occupations should be listed," he said, "giving wages, preparation, the approximate number needed in Schenectady each year, the number needed elsewhere. And a specifically qualified director should be in charge of the vocational advice for the city." (20) This was perhaps the first practical application of guidance for the school children of the city.

Back in 1906 the position of visiting teacher had been established. In cases of irregular attendance, poor school work, home neglect, health problems or delinquency, she had served as a link between home and school. But, she was a trouble-shooter who never appeared on the scene until after difficulties had developed. Dr. Brubacher's suggestion of the industrial survey was the first attempt to guide the child into areas where he was needed, and to make sure he was qualified to be there.

Dr. Brubacher had in fact guided the whole school system through seven years of remarkably peaceful and effective activity. When he left, the "deep regret" with which his resignation was accepted was more than mere routine. He left a heritage of contributions and accomplishments so diverse, so constructive, so far-sighted and so long-lasting that even today Schenectady's school system is, consciously or unconsciously, building upon his foundation.

Notes for Chapter XI

  1. E. R. Whitney, History of the Schenectady Public Schools, (manuscript, Schenectady City School District, Schenectady, N. Y., 1919), p. 14.
  2. Annual Report of the Board, December 1, 1911, p. 21. (Schenectady City School District, Schenectady, N.Y.).
  3. Superintendent's Report, April, 1913, p. 2. (Schenectady City School District, Schenectady, N.Y.).
  4. Encouraged by Dr. Brubacher's support, the Supervisor of Music said in an Annual Report in 1908: "I hope to see during the coming year, music made a major subject, as has been done in many places. Music… develops independence, concentration, habits of accuracy, alert thinking, will power and self-control as few subjects will do." And in 1911, the same man said, "We have very decidedly overcome the idea that the aim of public school music is to make musicians of all the pupils, that music is a frill, and other false notions…" (Schenectady City School District, Schenectady, N.Y.).
  5. Superintendent's Report, 1913, p. 2. (Schenectady City School District, Schenectady, N.Y.).
  6. Annual Report of the Board, 1910, p. 87. (Schenectady City School District, Schenectady, N.Y.).
  7. Annual Report of the Board, 1911, p. 36. (Schenectady City School District, Schenectady, N.Y.)
    The whole attitude regarding discipline in the schools had undergone vast changes. Rules for teachers adopted in 1904 had still permitted them to "inflict such corrections upon pupils as may be necessary," but now they were required to exercise judgement. "Harsh and unusual punishments such as are calculated to injure the health… must not be administered." The rules went even further. Teachers shall, they directed, "studiously avoid… everything that tends unnecessarily to wound the feelings of pupils, or is calculated to lower them in their own estimation. Especially… the use of epithets, sarcasm and ridicule."
  8. As a result of the success of this program, the Board was inspired soon after to provide its own corps of nurses and health inspection.
  9. Because of a coal shortage during the winter of 1917-1918, the possibility of closing the schools came under discussion. Dr. Steinmetz was adamant. No school must be closed, he said, while one amusement place remained open.
  10. Annual Report of the Board, 1912-1913, p. 27. (Schenectady City School District, Schenectady, N.Y.).
  11. Ibid., p. 22.
  12. Ibid., December 1, 1911, p. 21.
  13. Ibid., 1907-1908, p. 83.
  14. Ibid., 1908-1909, p. 25.
  15. Ibid., 1910, p. 76.
  16. Ibid., 1907-1908, p. 85.
  17. Ibid., p. 86.
  18. Ibid., December, 1908, p. 87.
  19. Ibid., 1907-1908.
  20. Superintendent's Report, 1911, p. 32. (Schenectady City School District, Schenectady, N.Y.).

Go to top of page | back to Chapter X | ahead to Chapter XII

You are here: Home » Education » Neisuler's History » Chapter XI

http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/education/neisuler/11.html updated July 30, 2009

Copyright 2009 Schenectady Digital History Archive — a service of the Schenectady County Public Library