My school colleague, Robert Baltos shared his memories of Allen School
Once upon a time there was a grade school in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh. This is a picture of my third grade class in 1956. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the president, there were 48 stars on the American flag and we were able to walk to school thanks to Dr. Jonas Salk. It is odd that sometimes I can’t remember what I did a few days ago but my memories of this wonderful place are forever intact. This was one of those photographs that my mother saved for me. I suppose that it is fitting that while I started writing this that I realized that today is her birthday. She has since passed on to her place in Heaven. I have looked at this group photo many times and I am able to recall most of the names of my classmates. We followed each other to junior and senior high school. Since then, I have never seen or heard from the majority of these people again. At the time this class picture was taken, air-raid drills were commonplace and we were convinced that World War III was at hand. Little did we know that in the not-too-distant future that some of the Class of 1966 would end up in Southeast Asia for our “senior trip” or that a young senator from Massachusetts would become our next president and be murdered in public several years later.
The teachers at Allen School were special people, the likes of which we will never see again. The teacher at the center of picture is Miss Helen Laucik, our physical education and health teacher. Like all of the teachers there, she was full of energy, ideas and compassion. She always reminded us to take care of our teeth and our feet, both of which she assured us that we would miss in our old age if we didn’t heed her warning. Mrs. Demming was our history, writing and music teacher. She predicted that there would be a currency called the “Euro”, warned us about the proliferation of socialism here and abroad and that much of what we consume would be someday be manufactured in places like China. Miss Bash was our mathematics teacher. Contrary to what some of the “experts” with their phony PhDs believe today, rote memorization of the multiplication tables and proficiency in long division, fractions and other basic arithmetic was absolutely necessary and you weren’t leaving her class without those basic skills!
Allen School closed in 1961. The students actually took their books and belongings from the desks, walked up the hill and placed them in their desks in the newly built Grandview School. However, Grandview could never replace the physical building of Allen School. Today’s architects could not imagine or duplicate such a place. On the other hand, bricks and mortar are just that. Miss Laucik, Mr. Kelly and a few others made the move that day too and taught there for many years afterward. Whey they left, they took the remaining spirit of Allen School with them. Oh, I almost forgot! Mrs. Bennett, thank you for being our librarian and teaching us how to use the Dewey Decimal System! I have a copy of the first book that you helped me select from the 600 aisle. “The Boy Electrician” by Alfred P. Morgan.
(Mr. Baltos is the third one down on the left. He still has the striped shirt!)
Friday at Pittsburgh Carrick High School, students read more than 65 names of Armed Forces alumni who served and died for their country. WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq. Afghanistan.
Jeremiah played Taps from the back of the auditorium. Our Spanish teacher played the piano while another teacher sang God Bless America. There were family members who told stories about their service member who passed. It was a poignant ceremony. The students did a wonderful job, reading not only their names but where the member had served, their decorations and where they died.
A couple of alums who were Korean War Veterans spoke as well. I photographed the event and was deeply touched.
On this night before a new school year is about to start and the summer vacation and family visits are memories, I was thinking about why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place.
I’m writing and posting these photos to pay tribute to wonderful teachers in my life.
In the 3rd grade I had an excellent teacher Grace Wagner from Dravosburg PA who taught at Winchester- Thurston. I found an alumni listing online Indiana PA Teachers College class of 1920. Unfortunately I can’t find the photo I have of her but plan to unearth it and post someday soon. Who wouldn’t love a teacher who wrote this about their student. I found it tonight in an envelope addressed to my parents, inside a deteriorating leather scrapbook. Isn’t her handwriting beautiful? I am so grateful I discovered this report tonight before school starts. “she is able to put her gifts to good use” she wrote. I feel encouraged once again as I hear her voice as I read the words she wrote in 1960-1961
Miss Wagner marked a 1 ( outstanding) for Play Spirit on the report card. They don’t have that category on report cards anymore.
And here is Winona Stewart from Morris Plains Borough School in New Jersey.
In the sixth grade and also in the 7th and 8th grade I had a most wonderful teacher- Winona Stewart. We had a Roman Banquet and she read The Human Comedy by William Saroyan aloud after lunch, and also The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford. Every week we memorized a poem and recited it- The Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth is one I remember well. I took this photo of Mrs. Steward in 1966, the year I graduated from 8th grade. When I lived in Germany and my own kids were young in the early 80’s, I found an address and wrote her a thank you note and told her how I remembered her reading aloud to our class and how she influenced my choice to get a Masters in Reading. She wrote a beautiful note back to me and one of these days I bet I unearth it, too. She collaborated with the next teacher I am going to mention. We did a show called The Curse of Ra as we learned about Egypt making a gold sarcophagus of papier mache and I was a dancing girl. It all seemed so exciting and wonderful and fun!
Mr G. is why I wanted to be an art teacher. I had him in grade school AND High School. I didn’t try to contact him soon enough as he was deceased when I though of it.
Arthur W Guenther. He produced a movie with our 4th grade class called Around the World in 90 Minutes. I was from the Netherlands and we used real wooden shoes in the tulips. I got a bit part in the French segment too, standing by a Kiosk, chatting away. I remember Starr Kenyon went down the slide as if skiing. Titi Moglia wore a kimono and had a fan and there were pink tissue paper cherry blossoms. I wish I could see the movie again.
When I think of all his creativity, I am in awe.
Mr. Guenther danced on Broadway in the show South Pacific with Mary Martin and showed us his scrapbook,
Mr. Guenther helped finish the monochrome portrait of me in 4th period oil painting class. It hangs in my bathroom.
My granddaughter Anna asked this past week, “Why are you all green?: and I started thinking about Mr Guenther and how he inspired me.
And here I am tonight, wondering if I can inspire someone as I start my new classes.
My father, Roy J. Hendricks (b. 1912-d.2002) was a teacher in a one room school in Illinois
My mother Marian VanSickle (b. 1912- d. 2000) was a teacher in a one room school in Illinois That is my mom in the back row on the left.
What teacher inspired you?
As I entered the building I looked back.
Saw the reflection of dawn in the high school windows. Lifted my phone up and shot the scene.
for Mr. Swanger……
The weekly prompt suggested a tight crop, an abstract, perhaps some architectural lines of buildings. Hmmm. Here is my series in response to geometry.
I loved geometry and the love of it came from the teacher whom I remember so well this evening as I write this post: Geometry.
I’m thinking of one of the best teachers I ever had- Mr. Swanger, in Morristown High School, New Jersey. I’m sure you have memorable teachers whom you remember, too.
Did a quick search and found this wonderful tribute in the Morris Educational Foundation publication.
Here is an excerpt and a link to the information about Saul Swanger Fellowship for New Teachers
“its purpose is “to encourage effective, innovative new teachers to pursue a lifetime of excellence in public education through the award of professional development fellowships, which help them to explore a professional passion, to pursue a course of study and/or undertake activities which would not otherwise be possible.”
The Legacy of Saul S. Swanger
Whether it was flipping the chalk over his shoulder onto the top rim of the blackboard, his tests with humorous problems about Stanislaus and his incorrigible younger brother Whatalouse, the sweet smell of his pipe smoke, or the warmth with which he embraced all of his students, Saul Swanger is remembered fondly by many generations of MHS alumni.
Mr. Swanger began his teaching career in 1938, teaching English, Ancient History, American History, Sociology, Latin, Spanish, Algebra, and Geometry in a schoolhouse in Claytonia, Nebraska, which was home to students in grades K-12. He came to MHS in 1944 and remained for forty years, thirty of them as Chairman of the Math Department. Immediately prior to his retirement in 1984, the MHS Honor Society changed its name to the Saul S. Swanger Chapter of the National Honor Society.
When asked about his proudest moments, Mr. Swanger said, “Because I continue to live in the same town where I taught, hardly a week goes by without my meeting a former student whom I taught (or whose children or grandchildren I taught), usually to exchange warm and often humorous memories. At times like these, I remember the words of Henry Adams:
‘A teacher affects infinity. He can never tell where his influence stops.’”
In a speech before the Middle States Evaluating Committee, which was reviewing the continued accreditation of MHS, Mr. Swanger spoke of young teachers as “noble and radiant with hope for the future.” He went on to speak of
It’s been closed a few years now.
Well, the yellow sign says RELOCATED but that was temporary.
It’s gone now.
When I drive by this building it feels sad. When I drove by today it was raining and I saw the For Sale sign out front. If you want to see a magnificent aerial view of the building and where to send your bid to buy it, click here
I went to high school in Morristown, NJ so it isn’t my Alma Mater, but the empty building evokes a sense of loss.
There’s whole list of notable alumni but here’s a link to a photo of Andy Warhol’s homeroom class 1944-1945
It’s hard to keep this friend anonymous since her name is on the cake. In chocolate letters!
Ellen is a blog follower and I hope she doesn’t mind….
Colleagues, family and friends gathered together to honor Ellen today. Effusive praise and accolades aren’t what Ellen would wish for but let me just say – there are thousands of students who have benefitted from having been taught by her in her classroom.
I didn’t see the smiley face on the cake until I looked at the photos.
Jean-Marc Chatellier baked this and decorated it so beautifully. It tasted delicious, too.
(You remember the colorful macarons?)
Enjoy your retirement Ellen. You deserve every happiness! A job well done.
Last week I had told an 8th grade student how I appreciated her showing empathy to me.
But then I asked her, do you know what empathy means?
She said she didn’t think she did. Not sympathy. So I wrote it on a piece of paper for her to look up in a dictionary later on as we were downstairs.
Later she brought me this dictionary. She told me empathy wasn’t in it. What? Let me see that.
I took it from her and looked and stared.
She was absolutely right!
It has emotion, but not empathy.
I think empathy is an important quality to possess and needs to be taught as well.
My sister read the sign on the building as we were driving back and forth from La’s and James’ home. Next time she handed me the camera and I pulled over and shot the facade. I went to read about what it meant by informal school. The building reminds me of growing up. Someone has restored the building for sure. Click Here for info about the school.
School. Ditto machines and drinking in the smell of the purple sheets and filmstrip projectors. Who remembers?