Richard H. Bartholomew, supervising principal of Athens Borough Schools, gave his annual report for the 1950-51 school year at the July board meeting. The 52-page report prepared by Mr. Bartholomew was entitled “A Look at Our Schools”.
In writing up the report Mr. Bartholomew explained “We have tried the informal style—an attempt to capture the cooperative and personal spirit of the schools and to offer many glimpses of the child as he received his education.”
Attempting to accurately describe what happens to the 1100 children und his supervision, Mr. Bartholomew employed reports from parents, teachers and pupils in his report. Also, he included accounts of important problems addressed to the general citizenry.
The methods and materials used in teaching students to read are described in the first section of the report. “Reading is one of the R’s,” Mr. Bartholomew stated that ideally every teacher is a reading teacher, “who develops the vocabulary and skills necessary to the subject being taught.”
Describing the reading program, he said:
Throughout our schools, reading is a continuous process, not just a skill to be learned in the primary grades. During the early primary grades one of the major objectives of the program is to help the child build a “sight vocabulary, an ability to recognize by sight many new words. In addition, boys and girls are taught very early to be aware of sounds and to apply them to their reading. However, for most pupils this is not the first step in learning to read. Instead, reading for complete thought and learning takes precedence. What is now called a developmental program of phonics or word analysis, is carried on throughout the elementary and junior high schools. You will find Johnny, in kindergarten and grade one, rhyming words and noticing that Susie, Sam, and Sally all begin with the same letter and sound. Jimmie in grades two and three, will be able to list a series of words form the word ship; he can also identify pictures and words which contain long and short vowel sounds. Sally, in grade six will be interested in demonstrating her use of prefixes and suffixes as she solves words like exploratory and interdependent. To be sure the alphabet is taught in the primary grades. It is shown in many meaningful situations before boys and girls are required to be expert in using it for filing and alphabetizing. The “sing-song” alphabet is delayed, for the majority of children, learning it is no longer a first step in learning to read.
Attention is called to the new library established this year in the section, “You find it in a book.” The old study hall furnished now with new furniture including nine oak tables and bookshelves has been transformed into a light pleasant room with offices for the librarian and guidance directors.
Mr. Bartholomew said the following regarding the library:
“What an improvement”; “What a change”; “They told me to be sure and stop in the library”; “It’s such an attractive room”; are some of the comments made by returning alumni, “I’d like to come in here to work”; “I can really study in here”; “I didn’t know we had all these things in our library” students had said over and over again that year. And 23,356 students and teachers spent all or part of a period in the library. Sometimes whole classes went in to work on a specific project.
The supervising principal summarized the outstanding accomplishments for the year as follows:
Probably the three outstanding accomplishments of the High School outside of the usual routine was the installation of an intercommunications system, the carrying on of a series of in-service training classes under the guidance of Dr. Patrick and the establishment of a new library which has been put on a very satisfactory working basis.
Extra-curricular activities part in the life of the Athens pupil is treated in the report. Good and bad points are evaluated and explained.
A full program of activities and clubs was carried on as in former years. One new activity was the broadcasting of assembly programs over WATS every three weeks. The size of the listening audience and the benefit to public relations cannot be accurately estimated but can be assumed to be good.
Attendance and enrollment figures were interpreted by Mr. Bartholomew to show their significance locally and in national terms. The dropout rate this year was as follows: 2 joined armed forces; 4 for marriage; 1 for medical reasons; 11 for work; and 10 moved away. This is a total of 28. Not counting those who moved away the dropouts represent 3.5% of the high school enrollment. The graduating class of 1951 represented as loss of 20 since it entered ninth grade. We feel our holding power is very good.
Mr. Bartholomew took a reader into the newly established Family Relations class to observe the teaching methods and subject matter treated. He pointed out the course included “factors that break down our family life as well as a study as to how to strengthen our family life for present and future.”
Recognizing the importance of the recreation program to the education of a child, Mr. Bartholomew presented the views of modern educators and medical men on recreation and physical programs. He explained that time, facilities and equipment are limited. Every boy and girl did have an organized recess and health class. Physical education classes are taught during the recess time at the three Athens schools Main, Willow and Page. The Pennsylvania School Laws were adhered to in the attempt to have the boys and girls happy through organized activity other than the free play type met with a certain degree of success.
Programs facing educators including the solving of the problems of living together, guidance activities, and the use of television in the school were discussed in the report as were parents’ relationships to the school.
Statistical tables of achievement tests and personnel changes completed the 1950-51 Athens school report.
Richard H. Bartholomew served Athens Schools for four years and left in 1953 when he was hired by Lewistown schools as Superintendent.
Henry Farley is a founding member and a current board member of the Sayre Historical Society. He is also president of the Bradford County Historical Society.