The History of Cheney State Normal School

History of the State Normal School
At Cheney
Chapter 8


By Holice, Pam, and Deb

Extra special thanks to Holice B. Young for transcribing book.  The excellent work she does continues to help many researchers!  Thanks also, to Pam Rietsch, for sharing her books with genealogists!


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The Training School of the Normal School was organized in January, 1892, when the institution was housed in the Pomeroy building on First Street. Miss Nellie G. Hutchinson, afterwards Mrs. W. J. Sutton, was the first principal. Four grades were maintained in the beginning.

When the Normal School outgrew its quarters in the Pomeroy building, and moved to the new public school building in 1893 (the present junior high school building), the Training School and classes in methods were established on the first floor, and the Normal School proper was conducted on the second floor. School was maintained in this building until the autumn of 1896, when the new Normal School building, for which the legislature of 1895 had made provision, was completed, the Training School was then established in the basement of this building, where it remained until the building which now houses the Training School was completed in 1908. An appropriation of $65,000 for the construction and the furnishings of the new Training School building was made by the legislature in 1907.

The basement plan of the old administration building of the Normal school, drawn by Architect C. B. Seaton, provided for six classrooms in the west end, with an office for the principal of the Training School just east of the center section. A laboratory, a boiler room, and a ventilating system were also located in the basement of the building. Improvements were made in the basement in 1903, and the classrooms were rearranged so that all of them were on the sunny side of the building. The walls were tinted at that time, and improvements in the heating and the ventilating systems were also made that year.

Miss Hutchinson resigned the principalship of the Training School on February 6, 1897, at the time Mr. Sutton gave up the principalship of the Normal School. Miss Grace F. Swearingen was elected to fill the vacancy. She com-

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pleted the year 1896-97. The following year there was no school, for Governor Rogers has vetoed the appropriation for maintenance.

After the doors of the Normal School has been closed for a year citizens of Cheney resolved to make personal sacrifices to reopen the school in order that it might be in operation when the legislature of 1899 convened. At this time W. B. Turner was called to the principalship of the Normal School, and his wife, Rose Rice turner, who had formerly been a member of the faculty, accepted the principalship of the Training School. In a letter to the present writer, dated at Spokane, December 14, 1922, Mrs. Turner recounted some of her experiences of those years, as follows:

"Your request that I write you reminiscences of my days in Cheney Normal promises me a pleasant pastime, because those two years were, I think, the most satisfactory of my life. There was so much to do and so little to do with that only people of pioneer tastes could ever have undertaken the work.

"I had taught in the Normal school before, when we had a great school but no building. Now we had a great building and nothing else--no students, no Training School, few teachers and no appropriations., what is it about making bricks without straw?

"However, the title of principal of the Training School carried to my mind dignity as well as responsibility--not that I was young even then, but that I knew so well what I wanted to do and believed so fully that I could do it. To this day I am convinced that I did do it. As I remember it, we were not legally entitled to any of the children of the district for our Training School, but were dependent upon the good will of the directors. My dealings were with Mr. W. B. (or R. W.) Ball, principal of the Cheney public School. He demurred a great deal about it during the summer of 1898, but finding his teachers overcrowded in the fall frankly gave us such pupils as he did not want.

"then a number of parents, interested in the reopening of the Normal School asked that their children be sent to us, and in this way we had more then a leaven of exemplary an delightful pupils. Those sent by Mr. Ball were generally troublesome, at least two being warranted to breakup any school they attended, he humorously told me. But he was a new man in the community and did not know his public.

"One of the boys was reputed to have just finished a jail sentence, but I prudently refrained from asking questions. I had no intention of failing with him, but after a month or two, all my little tried and trusted methods of approach having availed nothing, I settled down to a serious study of this particular incorrigible. Early one morning I was trying to adjust the top of a dilapidated Queen stove when my boy, who was standing across the room supposedly looking out the window, said sharply, "Lookout! Don't you see that is the way to burn your hand?"

"He took my place as fireman, not answering my smile in kind or otherwise, and never knew how awkwardness and accident had served me, though he must have seen before long that the 'bad man' was hopelessly deposed.

"The other school wrecker was almost from the first one of my most valued helpers, chosen for delicate and difficult enterprises because of intelligence as well as trustworthiness. It is true some of the student teachers were never reconciled to him. (Once, in answer to a private inquiry from me, he said:

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'Oh, Mrs. -------------- looks so funny when she gets mad and red in the face. I just tease her to see her look funny.' I told that, with suitable reservations, to the methods class, reminding them that an uncontrolled temper placed one at the merry of even a mischievous child.)

"Some time normal schools will successfully inculcate the idea that it is wretched teaching to give a child a bad name, or even to allow him to keep a bad name that he has earned. Badness, as such, is a grown-up attribute. It should not, and does not, inhere in children.

"We used stoves the first year--that is, we had stoves. They were big stoves with long pipes that went through transoms and down halls, dripping an inky liquid on their way to furnace flues.

"I used to go to the building early, before the little snow plow used for opening the streets was abroad. The ice gathered by long skirts and rubbers in the morning was found to be intact in the afternoon. Yet I do not recall that we had "flu" or its contemporary equivalent at all. The weather was very cold, and the classrooms and halls were cold, but the most depressing memory of discomfort, I have is of the auditorium, in which, morning after morning, we sang, 'Under the shade of the Linden Tree,' or some such thing. We sang it because most of the students were holdovers, and had learned certain songs in happier times--when the furnace was running.

"We were all on one floor in those days and shifted Training School classes and Normal classes around with surprising facility. I think we had only four grades in the Training School, but the ages ran high. I recall two boys who were seventeen.

"I do not recall enrollment in the Training School, but I know I had fifty-five in my methods class. This was the most incongruous arrangement, as some of these students had taught as much as ten years, and other were very young and utterly inexperienced. It was the best we could do, owing principally to lack of room, but partly to lack of teachers. I had capable assistance from the student teachers. We had music and drawing, took excursions, put on entertainments and did all the desirable things ina very creditable way, we thought.

"The second year was much easier. We had the furnace and a janitor. The Training School moved into the basement, which had been designed for it, with suitable blackboards and seats. We had an assembly room of our own, a piano, a pretty good library, (which had remained packed the year before), and a really beautiful time. We had as many pupils as we could accommodate, even without enlarged quarters.

"We certainly had a wonderfully, interesting body of students. I thought then that they were remarkable and, after more than twenty years, I still think so."

D. E. Sanders became principal of the Training school in 1900 and remained for two years. He was succeeded by Frederick G. Bonser, who remained until 1905. Mr. Bonser was a graduate of the University of Illinois.

In 1902 the Training School was giving instruction in the eight elementary grades. The grammar grades were located on the first floor of the Normal administration building, but the intermediate and the primary grades still remained in the basement. This arrangement was continued until the new Training School building was completed in 1908.

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James A. Burke, now principal of the Garfield Grade school in Spokane, became principal of the Training School in 1903 and remained until 1909. At the same time (1905) G. E. Marker was elected head of the education department of the Normal School and director of the Training School, the Training School at that time being conducted as an adjunct to the education department of the Normal School. The separation of the education department and the Training School took place in 1911, and they were run coordinately until the reorganization of the faculty in 1920 again placed the Training School under the general supervision of the head of the education department. Mr. Marker withdrew from the Normal School faculty in 1910.

Dr. Curtis Merriman, head of the education department of the Normal School, became the principal of the Training School in 1909, and occupied that position until 1911. He became head of the department of education of the Normal School in 1911, and Virgil E. Dickson was elected principal of the Training School. Mr. Dickson resigned in 1916 to enter Stanford University for graduate study. R. W. Whitford, the present principal of the Training School, succeeded Mr. Dickson in 1916. (Mr. Whitford resigned in March, 1924.)

The building now occupied by the Training school was used as the administration building of the Normal School for several months after the fire of 1912. The library and the administration building were located on the first floor, the assembly room was on the third floor, and the manual training department occupied the basement. During that time the Training School was quartered in the old public-school building, which it has occupied twenty years before. On the completion of the present administration building in 1915, the Training School was re-established in the building it now occupies.

To keep up a training school is a small community where a public school is also maintained is a grave problem, which has confronted many normal schools. Cheney has been no exception. Where two such schools are conducted there is of necessity a great deal of rivalry, and the resulting duplication of effort is an economic waste. Moreover, in a state like Washington, which furnishes aid to districts on the basis of average daily attendance, there is always a scramble to obtain the state money. Sundry laws have been passed in Washington to take care of this situation. These laws have recognized the fact that a Normal School can not be conducted without a training school, and that a training school is useless unless pupils are enrolled in all of the grades.

In 1907 the legislature of Washington, with a view to adjusting the problem of the training schools, enacted a measure requiring the board of trustees of each normal school to report to the local school district board the number of pupils required from the public school to make up the several grades of the model school. It then became the duty of the school board to apportion the required number. The principal of the normal school was given authority to reject any pupil known to be incorrigible. The normal school trustees were required to make an attendance report to the district school board, which report was required to be segregated from the attendance report of the pupils of the

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public school, and the state superintendent of publish instruction was required to apportion the money which had been earned by the attendance of the pupils in the training school to the support of the training school.

Ten years later the legislature changed the law regulating attendance at model schools, adding the proviso that the money earned by the attendance of training school pupils should be turned over to the officials of the local school district. According to the provisions of this law, the public school in a community that maintains a training school is relieved of the duty of educating the children who attend the training school, and yet receives state aid for the attendance of such children. this arrangement makes possible a reduction of district school levies.

With the systematic developments of the Training school at Cheney during the last decade attendance at the public school declined steadily. Finally, in the spring of 1921, a merger was made by the local district with the Training School, and the first six grades of the public school were discontinued., the public school building was remodeled and became the home of the newly organized Junior High School.

As the practice school is the chief agency for determining a student's future worth as a teacher, the Training School at Cheney has been accorded a high place in the Normal School curriculum since its inception,. According to the provisions of the school code of 1893, a requirement of twenty weeks of practice teaching in the Training School was demanded of all Normal school students of the senior grade. Again, in 1905, when the code was amended to provide for the issuance of secondary certificates, it was expressly provided in the law that no such certificate should be issued until the candidate had met the requirement of eighteen weeks of practice teaching in the Training School. At present (1923) the Normal School requires two and one-half quarter hours of teaching of each candidate for an elementary certificate, in addition to five quarter hours of observation and method. For graduation from the two-year course five quarter hours of teaching are required, in addition to five hours of observation and method.

Says the catalogue of the Normal School for June, 1922:

"The Training School has classes for children from the first grade to the ninth grade, inclusive. Each grade covers a course of study prescribed for the public schools of the State of Washington. The pupils of each grade are divided into 'A', 'B', and 'C' groups and promotions prevents the necessity of any child's being retarded for a longer period than twelve weeks. It also permits children to move forward from one grad to another as they prove their ability to move"

An extension of the "training school idea" was adopted by the Normal School, in connection with the rural department, a short while after the or-

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ganization of the rural department. This idea of "field training schools" expressed itself in the establishment of model rural schools in several of the counties of Eastern Washington. A bulletin, published by the rural department of the Normal School in May, 1914, gives the following information:

"In order to enlarge the field of usefulness of the rural department it was decided to establish an observation and model rural school in Spokane County. The plan chosen was on the car line, out about three miles from the Normal, where conditions in every way were typically rural. The old district building was remodeled so as to make heat, light and ventilation correct, new furniture and black boards were installed, the walls were calcimined and decorated, and everything done to make the building attractive, neat and comfortable. Later a kitchen was built and equipped for serving the noon hot lunch and a room was also added for manual training purposes. A well was drilled, indoor toilets were built, the grounds were improved and trees planted.

"The school board and the county superintendent were then asked to operate with the Normal School in securing a well trained and experienced teacher who would be able to do the most effective work. It was necessary to find or prepare a teacher who could adapt herself to the needs of the neighborhood and enlist the aid and hearty co-operation of all the people in the community. She must also be able to lead the social activities, and direct the course of study so as to make every lesson applicable to the child's daily life. such a teacher was found and the work was begun. The county superintendent has since then made frequent visits to the school to suggest and get the best ideas possible to carry on to his other schools and thus extend the influence of the model school to all the other rural schools of his county.

"The Normal School has planned to keep in almost daily contact with the teacher and the school, and frequently some member of the faculty goes to the social gatherings and takes some active part in the exercise.

"Another plan of extending the influence of the Normal through the model school is frequently to have groups of students whoa re taking the rural courses visit the model school and carefully observe the plan and arrangement of the building, classification and work of the pupils, the arrangement of the daily program, the plan of recitation and the general methods of the teacher. Following these visits the Normal students, in class, are called upon to discuss at length and give in reports to the other members of the class the results of their observations. In this way many young teachers to out from the Normal School year who have visited several times the model school and have seen a trained and experienced teacher conduct classes in a one-room rural school of the most approved type. They have also seen and discussed a properly arranged and furnished rural school and know the value of, and how to lead, the social activities for the community.

"The influence of this school soon spread to surrounding counties and led to the establishment under similar conditions of four other schools. One is in Adams County, at Tokio, where last year a comfortable cottage for the teacher and a manual training room and kitchen for the children were added; another was established at Mondovi, in Lincoln County; one in Pend Oreille County, near Newport, and another in Stevens County, at Addy. All of these schools, with the exception of the one at Addy, have a good kitchen which is well equipped for serving the noon hot lunch."

The model schools were discontinued in 1917, when the law authorizing

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the Normal School to give extension courses was enacted. Development of the ideas of the noon hot lunch and of the schoolhouse as a community center is the benefit derived from the experiment, in the opinion of George E. Craig, who directed the rural school work of the Normal School during those years.

In recent years an effort has been made to lift the scholastic standards of the Training School to the highest level. No critic teacher is now employed who has not at least the equivalent of a bachelor's degree. During the last two years several critic teachers have been employed who academic preparation has extended to or beyond the master's degree. In the building up of a strong Training School, in which the maximum of opportunities is offered the children who attend, as well as the Normal School. Only by effective service to the common schools of the Inland Empire will it justify its continuance.




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