Tag Archives: Hooper School

A fond farewell to Miss George

Sepia Saturday 451: Tenth and last post in a series about my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George — one of those friends, acquaintances and neighbors (FANs) who can make such a difference in a person’s life.

On my way out of town after my high school reunion this fall, I paid a parting visit to Vestal Hills Memorial Park — placing flowers on the markers of my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George, her parents and her brother. Which brings me back to where I began writing about her life.

Helen Gerorge’s marker in Vestal Hills Memorial Park, Vestal, N.Y. (2018) I placed flowers as a parting gift to one of my favorite teachers — my fourth grade teacher Miss George. Photo by Molly Charboneau

Forgotten memories

When I started this series on Miss George I had no idea it would continue for ten weeks!

Miss Helen George at 22: Senior photo from the 1939 yearbook of Cortland Teachers College (now SUNY Cortland). Scan by Molly Charboneau

But the more I researched her life, the more details I found — which is not surprising considering how engaged she was in Hooper School, where she taught, and in the history of its surrounding community, Endwell, N.Y.

As I wrote, forgotten memories poured out — and I found I enjoyed having Miss George around throughout this fall semester and into the holiday season.

So I am wistful as this series on Miss George draws to a close. She was such a key figure in my fourth grade life from 1959-60 — and her positive influence has stayed with me through the years.

A serendipitous connection

Yet I am also pleased that my research unearthed an unexpected, lasting connection to her.

As discussed in previous posts, Miss George was enthusiastic about history and preservation — much like the genealogy and family history community I have become part of in my adult life.

In 1960, when I had her for fourth grade, Miss George led a discussion at the Broome County Historical Society about Washingtonian Hall — a historic home on Endwell’s River Road.

http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn90066578/1960-01-20/ed-1/seq-2/#date1=01%2F01%2F1725&city=&date2=12%2F31%2F2016&searchType=advanced&SearchType=prox5&sequence=0&lccn=sn90066578&index=15&words=George+Helen&proxdistance=5&county=&to_year=2016&rows=20&ortext=&from_year=1725&proxtext=Helen+George&phrasetext=&andtext=&dateFilterType=range&page=1
Miss George holds a seminar on Endwell , N.Y., history at the Broome County Historical Society (1960). Source: nyshistoricnewspapers.org

In recent years, I have consulted the same society about my family’s history — and her history, too — even visiting their Binghamton, N.Y., repository this fall while in Endwell for my reunion.

When I discovered the Jan. 20, 1960, Endicott Daily Bulletin notice (at left) about Miss George’s seminar, I smiled at the connection.

How serendipitous that we each found our way to the Broome County Historical Society to pursue our passion! And how wonderful that I will be reminded of her whenever I research there in the future.

A fond farewell

Inspiring teachers like Miss George play such an important part in our lives — one we may not fully recognize until we are grown. Remembering and honoring them is the least we can do in appreciation of their invaluable role.

As I bid Miss George a fond farewell on Molly’s Canopy, I hope I’ve done justice to her life — and to the impact of her creativity, enthusiasm and love of history on generations of Endwell’s schoolchildren, including me.

In tribute to Miss George, here are the other posts in this series:

Up next: Molly’s Canopy is taking a brief New Year’s break for a couple of weeks. Happy New Year and please stop in mid-January 2019 when blogging resumes. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here. 

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Miss George’s later years

Sepia Saturday 450: Ninth in a series about my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George — one of those friends, acquaintances and neighbors (FANs) who can make such a difference in a person’s life.

Miss George taught fourth grade at Hooper School in Endwell, N.Y., for another fifteen years after I moved on to fifth grade. When she retired in 1975, I was 25 years old and living in New York City.

By then I was caught up in the tumultuous social upheaval of the 1960s — and Miss George’s world of running ovals, cursive handwriting, neat homework and good deportment seemed like a distant memory.

Only now, from the perspective of age, am I able to evaluate her impact on my life and consider her later years.

A Master’s degree

From her obituary, I learned that Miss George received a Maters’s degree from Albany State College.

She may have been encouraged in this by Hooper School Principal Don Pierce — at whose urging my mother also completed her Master’s in Music Education from Ithaca College.

A Pennsylvania move

Miss George left her Binghamton, N.Y., hometown after retiring at age 58 and moved south to Vandling, Penna. — near Forest City. This move is not surprising, since her parents predeceased her, and her younger brother Thomas — her only sibling — had relocated to New York City.

http://forestcityareahistoricalsociety.org/photo-gallery.html
Delaware St., Forest City, Penna. Beautiful countryside, a rich coal-country history, proximity to her Binghamton, N.Y., hometown and a long-time friendship likely prompted my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George to move to Vandling, Penna. — near Forest City — in retirement. Photo: Forest City Historical Society

Miss George may have chosen the Vandling-Forest City area because her longtime friend, and later caregiver, Angeline Carer lived there. Or maybe they made a plan, as friends sometimes do, to move to the same place in retirement.

Either way, who wouldn’t want to retire there? Under the slogan “Welcome to the most beautiful place in Pennsylvania,” the Forest City Historical Society quotes lumberman William Pentecost’s 1864 description of the area:

Cut in the dark woods where never a shimmer of golden sun shines through the trees and the surface was covered with vegetation in wild luxuriance. There were monster hemlock trees, some of them of beautiful symmetry lifting their magnificent proportions to an altitude of nearly one hundred feet. Others were bent toward each other having their long limbs locked across the narrow road as if embracing each other and whispering secrets.

A lasting friendship

Wondering how they became friends, I discovered that Miss George and Miss Cerar both taught at Hooper School. They seem to have been kindred spirits — each directing their pupils in performances and volunteering after hours.

According to the Endicott Daily Bulletin, in 1955 Miss Cerar directed her first grade class in an operetta titled “The Lemonade Stand.” In 1956 she was awarded tenure and a few years later joined local parents on the PTA’s hospitality committee.

Miss George and Miss Cerar attend a bridal shower (1960). Source: George F. Johnson Memorial Library/nyshistoricnewspapers.org

Miss Carer was eventually promoted to teaching third grade — which likely meant meetings with my fourth-grade-teacher Miss George about students who were moving up.

By 1960 — when I had Miss George for fourth grade — she and Miss Cerar had become friends.

And a March 1960 Endicott Daily Bulletin story listed them as guests at al bridal shower for the Endwell Junior High School nurse-teacher.

A cat person

The last item of interest in Miss George’s obituary is a request for memorial donations to go to Project PAW in Binghamton, N.Y. — a volunteer-run rescue and adoption group for cats.  So it seems that Miss George was a cat person — which does not surprise me.

Many teachers in my Endwell hometown had cats as pets — and one teacher in my neighborhood even competed, showing her pedigree felines and winning awards.

Yes, I can totally see Miss George seated in a cozy chair with her cat on her lap — reading a good book or perusing the local paper to relax after a long day in the classroom.

Please stop back as this series wraps up with a fond farewell to Miss George next week. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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My mother and Miss George

Sepia Saturday 449: Eighth in a series about my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George — one of those friends, acquaintances and neighbors (FANs) who can make such a difference in a person’s life.

Although I long considered my fourth grade year an individual experience, my education was actually a group effort — with my teacher Miss Helen George working in tandem with my mother to move my learning process forward.

The best evidence of this is the teacher-parent comment section of my fourth grade report card.

My fourth grade report card’s teacher-parent comment page (1959-60). I get a kick out of these little notes every time I read them. They reveal Miss George and my mom as a mutual admiration society — one teacher corresponding with another, collaborating and taking pride in a child’s progress.Scan by Molly Charboneau

A mutual admiration society

In the little spaces provided, Miss George outlined my progress in the beautiful flowing cursive she strived to teach us in class — her signature underlined with a flourish.

In reply, my mom Peg (Laurence) Charboneau — herself an elementary music teacher — thanked Miss George and acknowledged her contribution in glowing terms.

I get a kick out of these little notes every time I read them. They reveal Miss George and my mom as a mutual admiration society — one teacher corresponding with another, collaborating and taking pride in a child’s progress.

My deportment problem

My first quarter of fourth grade went pretty well, judging by the report card notes:

“Molly is doing a fine job in fourth grade and I hope that she continues to do as well.” ~~Helen George

“We are pleased with Molly’s report and feel she has shown improvement this year. We appreciate your fine work with her.” Margaret L. Charboneau

The second quarter was another story. I started the year with only a “satisfactory” (as opposed to “excellent”) in deportment. And apparently my rambunctiousness went downhill as the year went on.

My childhood home in Endwell, N.Y., circa 1957. My bedroom is up top with the open window. Prompted by my fourth grade teacher Miss George, my parents stressed neat homework and good deportment. Luckily, I cleaned up my act and was promoted to fifth grade in June 1960. Photo by Norman J. Charboneau

So did my neatness — a point pride to my meticulous teacher. So Miss George sounded the alarm, and my mom stepped up to help.

“Again Molly has done an excellent job! If she always does as well I’m sure she will know a happy, successful future. (–I do wish she would try to make her papers a little neater.)” ~~Helen George

“We will encourage Molly to continue the good work. Also we will stress the neatness and deportment department.” Margaret L. Charboneau

I clean up my act

My parents’ intervention apparently did the trick. I actually got an “excellent” in deportment in the third quarter — and Miss George reported that my papers were neater, too. In appreciation, Mom returned a message of high praise to Miss George.

“Papers neat — excellent work — so there can be nothing but praise for Molly this period.” Helen George

“An excellent teacher can bring out the best in a youngster. Thank you.” Margaret L. Charboneau

Headed for fifth grade

I was back to “satisfactory” in deportment in the fourth quarter — but fortunately didn’t behave badly enough to hinder my educational progress. On June 24, 1960, Miss George proudly promoted me to the fifth grade.

“Molly has had a fine year in fourth grade and I hope that she will continue to do as well in fifth grade.” ~~Helen George

There are no closing comments from Mom. But when I asked her about Miss George decades later, she smiled affectionately at the memory.

“She was just great,” Mom said. “The classical type of person you think of when you hear the word teacher.”

Please stop back as this series continues. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Miss George in the classroom

Sepia Saturday 446: Fifth in a series about my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George — one of those friends, acquaintances and neighbors (FANs) who can make such a difference in a person’s life.

My fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George entered my life in September 1959 — a landmark school year for me with so many new  things to learn.

My memories of first through third grades do not stand out in the same way, although I am sure my teachers were able and dedicated.

Ready for my closeup in my fourth grade class photo (circa 1959-60). While in Miss George’s fourth grade class I learned to write cursive, appeared in a play and began studying French as a second language. Scan by Molly Charboneau

But I recall many details of fourth grade, which began when I was 9 years old. Foremost among them is Miss George holding forth and coaching us on one topic or another.

The blessing of cursive

For one thing, fourth grade was when we learned to perfect our cursive handwriting — that lovely, flowing style that is finally making a comeback after not being taught for a generation. And Miss George made sure we honed this invaluable skill.

First, she taught us how to make running ovals on lined paper — long lines of slinky-like circles that had to be even and neat as we held our  pencils at the proper angle.

Next, she had us fill in various silhouettes  (busts of presidents, animals, trees, you name it) with the delicate rows of circles — awarding stars and wall postings for those whose work excelled.

One of my  fourth grade art projects (circa 1959-60). I suspect I was a Marx Brothers fan, from the looks of this paper bag puppet made in Miss George’s class. Photo by Molly Charboneau

Finally Miss George gave specific instruction in how to form each letter just so, and how to link them together into words — something I continued to refine up through junior high.

I was heartbroken when I learned that schools had stopped teaching cursive handwriting — a must for rapid note taking and for deciphering family and historical documents.

So I was pleased to discover it has recently returned to school curricula — and I’m sure Miss George would be pleased, too.

Art, awards and a visiting French teacher

My mother, who taught elementary school music, diligently saved my landmark childhood projects, report cards and awards — and those of my siblings — in a “baby box” that was later presented to each of us as adults. So I have a couple of souvenirs from my time with Miss George.

One is a cigar-smoking paper bag puppet (above) that has lasted through the years — a sample of the type of creative art project Miss George assigned to us. The other is my wrapper from a large Hersey’s candy bar (below) — a major reward presented by Miss George for a job well done.

Wrapper of a coveted award from Miss George (circa 1959-60). Miss George gave out large candy bars as rewards for a job well done. Alas, my younger brothers ate mine! Photo by Molly Charboneau

My younger brother Mark told me that I hung onto the intact candy bar for a while to savor the pleasure of the prize — until he and my youngest brother Jeff snuck into my room, tore open the wrapper and started eating it!

Yet another landmark fourth grade event was the introduction of French language immersion by a visiting instructor.

I remember gazing quizzically out Miss George’s classroom window at falling snow as the teacher repeated over and over, “La neige est blanche.” (The snow is white.) — to try to teach the concept of black and white. I am grateful for those early French lessons whenever I research my Québécois ancestors!

I take to the stage

Perhaps my most vivid memory from my year with Miss George is taking to the stage in my first acting role.

As discussed in the last post, Miss George regularly used stagecraft to impart lessons to her students. And in 1959-60 she created two plays about town and state history that were put on by my fourth grade class. More on this in the next post.

Please stop back as this series continues. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs  of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Miss George in the news

Sepia Saturday 445: Fourth in a series about my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George — one of those friends, acquaintances and neighbors (FANs) who can make such a difference in a person’s life.

1939: Helen George at age 22. In this senior photo from the Cortland Normal School Didascaleion yearbook, a young Miss George seems to radiate a sense of purpose that was well-honed by the time I had her for fourth grade 20 years later. Scan: Molly Charboneau

After graduating in 1939 from Cortland Normal School (now SUNY Cortland), my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George, 22, launched her career as an educator at Hooper School in Endwell, N.Y. — just west of her Binghamton hometown.

Those were the days when small-town papers regularly reported on local personalities and happenings — including updates on local schools and teachers.

So Miss George was in the news for two decades before I had her for fourth grade.

A 1945 holiday program

The earliest news article I have found — titled “Hooper School Pupils to Give Yule Program” — appeared in the Dec. 17, 1945, Endicott Daily Bulletin and gave evidence of Miss George’s many talents.

http://endicott.advantage-preservation.com/viewer/?i=f&d=01011855-12311960&e=helen%20george&m=between&ord=e1&fn=endicott_daily_bulletin_usa_new_york_endicott_19451217_english_6&df=11&dt=20
Dec. 1945: Miss George directs a play. [Click to enlarge.] This Endicott Daily Bulletin article describes a play by 4th and 5th graders directed by my fourth grade teacher Helen George. Stagecraft was just one of her many educational tools. Source/full article: Digital Archives of the George F. Johnson Memorial Library
The third paragraph says, “Members of the fourth and fifth grades will be in charge of the first program to be directed by Miss Helen George.”

The program was a holiday-themed play featuring eight grade-school actors — plus a ninth who did the introduction.

This news story particularly interested me because Miss George later directed two plays put on by my fourth grade class — a very big deal for us youngsters.

It never occurred to me then that this stagecraft was something she did on a regular basis!

Career, social life and faculty activity

On June 28, 1949, as the early Baby Boomers reached grade school age, Hooper School’s record enrollment of 800 elementary students made the Endicott Daily Bulletin — with Miss George on the roster of fourth grade teachers.

Another article is the same issue describes “Miss Helen George of Binghamton” attending a bridal shower for Miss Dorothy Carey. So just  like in college, she also found time for fun social activities.

http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn90066578/1951-10-03/ed-1/seq-5/#date1=01%2F01%2F1725&city=&date2=12%2F31%2F2016&searchType=advanced&SearchType=prox5&sequence=0&lccn=sn90066578&index=11&words=George+Helen&proxdistance=5&county=&to_year=2016&rows=20&ortext=&from_year=1725&proxtext=Helen+George&phrasetext=&andtext=&dateF
October 1951: Helen George appointed Legislative Committee chair by Hooper School faculty association. Source/full article: NYS Historic Newspapers

She was involved in the Hooper School faculty association, too.

An Oct. 3, 1951, article in the Endicott Daily Bulletin reported Miss George’s appointment as Legislative Committee chair at a faculty meeting at the Octagon Inn in Glen Aubrey, N.Y. — a position she held until at least 1955.

Somehow that doesn’t surprise me. Miss George was always pushing me and my fourth grade classmates to take an interest in social studies — and she was active in local civic projects, too.

Honored for length of service

One last Endicott Daily Bulletin clip from June 4, 1959 — titled “Endwell: 3 Local Faculty Members Honored for Service” — spotlights Miss George right before I had her for fourth grade.

http://endicott.advantage-preservation.com/viewer/?k=%22helen%20george%22&i=f&d=01011855-12311960&e=helen%20george&m=between&ord=k1_e1&fn=daily_bulletin_usa_new_york_endicott_19590604_english_7&df=1&dt=10
June 1959: Helen George honored for 20 years of service to Endwell school children. Source/full article: Digital Archives of the George F. Johnson Memorial Library

She was one of three teachers honored by the PTA for having “served Endwell school children for a total of 84 years.”

In appreciation, Miss George and the other teachers “were presented orchids during a program held following the PTA’s annual ice cream social.”

At that point Miss George had been teaching for 20 years — and come September 1959, I would become one of her fourth grade students.

Please stop back as this series continues. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs  of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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