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Former teacher’s letter praises school board

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In its September 27, 1934 issue, The Bossier Banner printed the following letter which will be reprinted in this column in two parts.

“It was with a feeling akin to sorrow and disappointment that we learned that Mr. N. W. Sentell was no longer to be a member of the Bossier Parish School Board.”

“For forty years he has labored earnestly for the betterment of our schools. He has seen the fruition of his labors nearing completion. We stand second to none in the state, in equipment, scholastic and athletic training for our boys and girls and perhaps first in our great strides of improvement and efforts to reach the highest ideals of attainments, which is proven by not what we say, but by the honors which come to our boys and girls at the various school meets throughout the state, where competition runs high and by the lofty stands these same boys and girls take in college and university life and carry with them into the business world.”

“Just here, it will be well for us to take a backward glance and try to realize what the public schools of Bossier Parish represented 40 years ago. Just what they were, I do not know, but a few years later, when I made my debut as a teacher, the school term was six months. Teachers’ salaries were $25, $35 and $45 a month, according to the grade one held. Sometimes we taught as many as three months before receiving our first month’s salary, or we had the privilege of accepting scrip and discounting it at a bank or a store. Of course we never did that, unless forced by necessity, for we were a greedy lot and did not like to share our magnificent salaries with others.”

“There were very few schools in the parish with more than one teacher and I recall none with as many as three. Few were equipped with patent desks and an adequate amount of blackboard space.”

“The children sat on long benches, with a plank nailed to the back of the bench in front for a desk. We often had as many as seven grades and sometimes eight.”

“Such was the conditions [sic] of our public schools thirty and forty years ago.”

“I taught in the Plain Dealing School when it was a two-teacher school and, believe it or not, we did the work of eleven full grades—higher mathematics, Latin and all. This was, at that time, the most commodious and best equipped public school in this section of the state, not excepting Shreveport, as it ante-dated the old Central School, on Hope Street, which was torn down a few years ago. Our school was made possible by the generosity of Mr. S. J. Zeigler, who sponsored Plain Dealing in its infancy.”

Be sure to read next week’s article to find out more about the history of Bossier Parish schools.

Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or by e-mail at amiddlet@state.lib.la.us