Thursday, December 09, 2010

Teacher’s Institute in Sandusky, 1845

The first Teachers’ Institute in Ohio met in Sandusky on September 2, 1845. Hewson L. Peeke wrote in his book, A Standard History of Erie County, that Ebenezer Lane, Rev. Leverett Hull, and C. B. Squires were active in securing lecturers for the Institute. The purpose of the Teachers’ Institute was for the improvement of common schools. Any Ohio teacher was invited to attend the Institute. Those who attended the Institute were not charged any fees, except for their own paper and paying board while in Sandusky. Private homes were opened to the teachers for a fee of not over $2.00 a week.

The main speakers of the Teachers’ Institute were Salem Lord, a teacher from New York State, Asa Lord, and M.F. Cowdery, who would later serve as Superintendent of Sandusky’s school system. Asa Lord was a teacher of mathematics, while M.F. Cowdery specialized in geography. Over ninety Ohio teachers attended the Teacher’s Institute. The Catalogue of the Instructors and Students of the Teachers’ Institute held in Sandusky, Ohio in 1845 was printed by W. S. Mills and Sylvester Ross. Sessions continued for two weeks, with instruction during the day, and lectures and general discussion held during the evening hours.

The names of the teachers who attended the Teachers’ Institute were listed in the Catalogue. Usually known as Rush R. Sloane, Mr. Sloane’s name was given as Richard Rush Sloane in the catalogue. Rush Sloane became well known as an abolitionist and served as Mayor of Sandusky from 1879 to 1880. Daughters of another Sandusky Mayor, Foster M. Follett, also attended the Teacher’s Institute. Helen and Sarah Follett worked along side their parents in attending to the sick during the 1849 cholera epidemic in Sandusky. Sarah and Emily Townsend were daughters of pioneer Sandusky resident, William Townsend. Sadly, Sarah Townsend and both her parents died in the cholera epidemic in 1849.

Several resolutions were adopted at the closing of the Institute. One encouraged the continuation of Teachers’ Institutes so that teachers could obtain practical instruction on subjects connected with teaching and governing schools. Another resolution demanded that the business of teaching be made a distinct profession. A significant resolution recommended “the introduction of vocal music into the Common Schools of this state, as an aid in mental and moral improvement, and an agreeable relaxation from study.” Paul D. Sanders wrote about this early support of vocal music education in Ohio in an article in the October 2001 issue of the Journal of Historical Research in Music Education. (subscription required)

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