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by Barth Weistart


I was going through some old papers and found a copy of an application for a teaching position my mother, Verna (Barth) Weistart had written in 1938. Two of my daughters have taught in private and public schools for many years. I wondered what transition had taken place over the last 65 years. One would expect a more thorough application today because of the legal ramifications from drugs, abuse, misconduct, and promiscuities. My daughter Mara supplied me with an application form for an Arizona public school system to compare to my mothers 1938 application. My mother's application was hand written as follows:

Minonk, Illinois
May , 1938

My dear Board of Directors:

I should like you to consider me an applicant as teacher in your school for the coming year should there be a vacancy.
I am twenty-six years of age, five feet six inches in height, and weigh one hundred forty-five pounds. My health is excellent, having also no physical defects. I attend church regularly and am a member of the Evangelical Church of Minonk.
I shall be glad to take part in any activities including those of the community, should you so desire.
In the Spring of 1928, I graduated from Minonk Community High School, Minonk, Illinois entering the State Normal University at Normal, Illinois in the fall of 1930. I received my teacher's certificate from Normal. I was enrolled in a course for grade teaching so I have had specific training along these lines. Below is a list of my courses and the semester hours in each:

Left: Verna Weistart and students at Hill Grove School in 1939. (Located Six Miles South and Two Miles East of Minonk) (Southwest Corner of County Road 2900E- 1600N)

TOP ROW: Lyle Gene Pinkham, Doris Ann Ioerger, Jr. Gauger, Shirley Ioerger, LeRoy Pinkham, Donald Ioerger, Verna (Barth) Weistart- teacher, Ray Baker, Janet Ruth Pinkham. MIDDLE ROW: Phyllis Krug, Lloyd Baker, Betty Lea Kelsey, Rex Pinkham, Duane Guth, Margaret Pinkham. FRONT ROW: Carolyn Ioerger, Jack Yerk, Emerson Guth, Mary Lou Gauger.

Page 2

Introduction to Teaching - 48 hours
Psychology - 72 "
General Methods of Teaching - 48 "
Reading 31 - 24 "
Primary Reading - 24 "
Phonics - 30 "
Music 31 - 48 "
Primary Music - 48 "
Geography 31 - 72 "
Geography 30 - 72 "
Intermediate Language - 24 "
Drawing 30 - 48 "
Arithmetic 30 - 48 "
Arithmetic 31 - 48 "
Physiology - 48 "
Physical Training -144 "

I have done some observation work in the Metcalf grade school connected with the State Normal University. I was a member of the Primary Teacher's Club as well as a member of a dramatic club. I took part in a number of outside activities and work in Physical Training.
I have had several years of teaching experience. During this time I have secured various school material such as two sets of encyclopedias ( The World Book and American Educator- an encyclopedia for lower grades, and a cabinet of activities for school work in the various subjects. As these belong to me they shall be available for use to the pupils under my care next year.
Should you desire references as to my character and ability for the position, I shall be glad to furnish you with the same.
You will find attached a self addressed return envelope.
I shall be glad to arrange for a personal interview at your convenience.
May I hear from you?


Verna Barth Weistart

Page 3

Times have changed! My mother's application said 'this is me and this is what I have done'. The information was taken at face value. The application resulted in a job at the Hill Grove School south and east of town during the school years of 1938-1939 and 1939-1940. Refer to the picture above.

Granted, there were far less people in 1938 and most people in this area would have known my mother. Proof of what she said in her letter would have been common knowledge and further proof would not have been needed. The application my daughter gave me consisted of 11 pages, was prepared by the District, and asked questions which the applicant has to answer. The first page is a letter from the executive director telling all to follow instructions and the application will be active for one year from the date of the interview. The second page states that a 'Certified Employment Application" is required. This file must contain official transcripts from all universities, a placement file sent from the university placement office, and a copy of a current Arizona teacher certificate. Out of state applicants and new graduates should note that fingerprint clearance is required.

After listing of name, social security number, telephone number, etc., three preferences of positions desired are to be listed. Since my mother was teaching all eight grades of the country school her preferences where limited to one, 'teacher'.

The personnel section requires the applicants name, address, phone number, etc. (This is probably to check on the same information given on the prior page.) Questions followed: Are you under contract with another district, have you been dismissed from teaching, and what proficiencies do you have in languages other than English. In 1938, the answer to the last question would have been German, Italian, and Polish. Today the answer would be Spanish, Spanish and Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Taiwanese). Three references must be listed. A listing of all colleges and universities attended with fields of study and degrees earned are next. Disclosure of teaching and special certificates are required. Student teaching experience, teaching experience, other work experience is listed with all appropriate addresses and time periods.

Page 4

A hand written statement is needed. In 1938 the application was hand written so a separate hand written statement would not have been necessary. Now come the questions required because of todays circumstances. HAVE YOU BEEN convicted of a sex or drug offense, convicted of a felony, convicted of a crime against children? If so, give the dates, charges, jurisdiction and disposition. Finally, todays applicant must supply information and agree that the school can request consumer reports or investigative consumer reports. Credit was limited in 1938. If you owed bills everyone in town knew it. Consumer Reports weren't available and not as important. Credit cards and computers would be needed to herald in the age of Consumer Reports.

My mother supplied much of the same information required today but in her own hand written fashion. It worked in 1938 but would not have today.


My mothers baby sister Ruth M. (Barth) Park still had her contract to teach from 1933. It also was a unique document. Aunt Ruth was to preserve in good condition the school house, premises, apparatus and furniture, and books and records provided by the school board. Guess who was the janitor? Your right! The teacher. All items had to be returned to the Clerk of the District at the end of the school year-natural wear and tear excepted. I wonder, was 'kid damage' natural wear and tear. The contract noted that dismissal of the teacher was to be made by the Directors for gross immorality, incompetency, or violation of the contract. The pay was $65 per month for the eight month contract (that is a total of $520 for the school year). Click here to view the original contract

Page 5

Contracts for today teachers are still simple. The one I looked at was two pages. The teacher agrees to perform the duties assigned and follow the policies, rules, regulations and standards of the District. The School District agrees to pay the teacher $36,900 for the school year in bi-weekly payments. The teacher is notified that Prop #200 funds will be distributed when received. If the legislature decides not to increase the retirement employer contribution, the money will be distributed to the employee. Salaries and performance pay can be made from the Classroom Site Fund. Monies allocated from the Fund are reserved for performance pay and certain maintenance and operations purposes. The contract year will be according to the official calendar adopted by the Governing Board.

The current contracts appear to be relatively short but reference in a library of rules, regulations, and such. Country schools in 1933 could have 18-20 students covering all eight grades. Students in one grade might help some in lower grades with their work but the teacher had to plan lessons for all students. Programs met the needs of each student. Some schools would have had gifted, challenged, active, and ESL (English as a second language) students. In 1933, student differences were recognized but efforts to meet these needs were not as prevalent as today. Teachers had to develop their own programs. Resources as specially trained individuals and adapted training tools were not available. Even so, teachers must have done a creditable job. They taught us enough that since 1933 we've gone to the moon, cured diseases, increased crop yields, and plugged into the internet. It's interesting to see the progression of teacher applications and contracts but it was the teachers that made the difference.