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PRESIDENT'S ANNUAL ADDRESS BEFORE THE
STATE ASSOCIATION OF TEACHERS.
FIRST PAPER. FELLOW TEACHERS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN :—The year has rolled around and we have again assembled at our annual gathering. Our first words should be those of thankfulness to the bounteous All-Giver whose goodness has preserved us, and whose providence has made it possible for us to meet under circumstances as favorable as we find them to-day.
And next, should be a hearty greeting to all our fellowworkers; those who have come up hither, to strengthen themselves in the great work in which we are engaged, to be cheered by the warm hand-clasps, as friend meets friend, and the bonds of good-fellowship are made stronger, and for the inspiration that comes from the contact of mind with mind, in such exercises as have been provided for us during the present association.
Welcome to those who have grown gray in the service, and
who, possibly, have come with thoughts chiefly fixed upon what " we used to do,” in the years gone by. Welcome to the young teachers, who have come to the State Association, somewhat timidly perhaps, but anxious to see what they will do there. But thrice welcome to the great middle class, the rank and file, who have come in the confidence and strength of active life, to see how profitable we may make this gathering, and how we can make the next annual meeting better still. To one and all, from the city of San Jose, from the Trustees and Faculty of the Normal School, from the teachers of the city and county, a hearty welcome.
And from no one can there come a more heart-felt welcome than from him who is now speaking to you. Having been thrice called to preside over your annual gatherings, and, as to-day, to address you as your President, I should be ungrateful indeed if I did not feel, deeply feel, the unsought honor you have conferred upon me. But while I welcome you thus, I indulge a hope, in which, perhaps, more than one of my listeners shares, that as your President, I am addressing you for the last time, and that the onerous duties pertaining to the office may be laid upon younger and abler shoulders than mine.
And this suggests the first topic that I have selected to present to you. Really healthful growth and progress is, and of necessity must be, slow. We, as teachers, often times become discouraged because we see so little advancement in our schools, or in the general work of education. We need often to be cheered by something that brings a sure conviction that we are actually advancing. May I not be the bearer of good tidings to you to-day, tidings that may encourage, strengthen and inspire you to yet greater effort ?
About sixteen years ago, while passing through California on my way from Oregon, I made my first acquaintance with the schools of this state. At that time I visited the Normal School, attended one or two Teachers' Institutes, and spent some time in the schools of San Francisco and of San Jose. Fourteen years ago, I came among you as a teacher in the Normal School. Since that time, I have visited nearly every county in the State, in some five or six times. I have attended the meetings of the State Association, and, what has qualified me the better to say what follows, I have been in a position where I could, perhaps better than any one else, judge of the work and progress of our public schools. We have had, in the Normal School, a large representation of the work of the Grammar Schools; graduates who have come here to qualify themselves to teach. About forty counties of the State send representatives to the Normal School in San Jose. At our last examination, applicants were present for admission from thirty-four counties.
In preparing the material for the present address, I have reviewed my notes and recollections of the years gone by, compared and contrasted the schools as they then were, as judged by their work, and as they now are, judged by the same standard. And the result of this comparison and contrast has been to force upon my mind more strongly than ever before, a conviction that there has been, all through the State, a vigorous, healthful, and comparatively rapid educational growth. This growth is shown in a display of more interest, and greater intelligence and culture on the part of teachers, in their annual gatherings; in the greater demand for educational books and periodicals, and in a general desire to make of teaching really a profession. It has shown itself in a marked degree in the qualifications of those who have applied for admission to this school, as well as in the ability they have shown to do good work, after they have been admitted. This latter growth I have marked froin year to year, and I can assure you that each
have come to us better instructed and better trained. The class of some forty-five, admitted this year on their Grammar School diplomas, have really surprised us by their knowledge and ability. Of course there are individual, and I may safely say, county exceptions. It is not surprising that the advancement has not been entirely uniform. Nor is the reason for the difference in progress far to seek. Some counties have been alive, reaching out for whatever of good was to be had, either in new methods or in new teachers, and have thus been constantly infusing new blood into their school system, and keeping up that generous rivalry that always has resulted, and always must result in good. Others have been more self-satisfied; content to let what they believe to be, “well enough” alone. They have been somewhat like close corporations, wanting to keep out intruders; having just schools enough to “ go around” among the teachers already there, and filling any breaks in the ranks from home products. It goes without the saying, that such counties or communities must fall in the rear. And that they have done so, even a casual observer would easily determine by an examination of their work. But even these counties can
PACIFIC EDUCATIONAL JOURNAL.
not long lag in the rear. They are already awaking. My correspondence, never more extensive than now, shows me that there will soon be a grand move forward, even there, and that those who are thus indirectly staying the wheels of progress, will soon find it necessary to stand aside or be crushed, as they roll along.
Fellow teachers, we have much to cheer us. We should be satisfied that we fight, “not as one that beateth the air," but that we are on the high road to victory.
It will be profitable for us, as a guide in the future, to look at a few of the agencies which have contributed to our educational advancement. Much credit is due to those able gentlemen who have filled the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction. They have, each and all, worked earnestly and intelligently to advance our schools, and have reason to congratulate themselves upon the success of their labors. And I am glad to believe that the next incumbent will “ walk in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessors, vying with them in the effort to secure the highest possible point of excellence in our school system. Under the guidance of these gentlemen, we have had, in the main, wholesome and friendly legislation. The change in our organic law, which was at the first, thought unfriendly, has done more good in some directions than was hoped, and less harm in others than was feared. It is yet too early to decide what the ultimate result will be. The labors of the State Superintendents have been zealously and ably seconded by a body of County Superintendents, as a class, well fitted for their work, and many of them persons of exceptional ability. Much of the efficiency of our system is due to the careful supervision of schools exerted be these gentlemen and ladies, who in another State have been styled “the right arm of the school system.” Some of those who have exercised this supervision are with us at this gathering, and from their presence and counsel much good will result.
Teachers’ Institutes have done much toward securing advancement in our school work. While a few of them have, from various causes, been productive of little good, and some evil, they have, on the whole, been characterized by a thoughtful intelligence and an earnest endeavor, greatly to be commended. They have done much toward unifying the work in each county, and in giving to the younger teacher a wider range of vision, and new methods of work, which have been highly prized and ably used. They have also had the