All interviews were taped and documented.They are available through the Reference
Department of the Teaneck Public Library. The Library is not responsible for the accuracy
of the statements nor does it necessarily endorse the opinions expressed.
Mrs. Katherine Keener (age 90),
Principle of Hawthorne School 1924-1955
(Interview taped 8/4/1975)
I came to Teaneck in 1919 or 20. Mr. Jay was head of the school system. I applied and he said there was no vacancy. I went to the board and they hired me. They were trying to got him to loosen his authority. He was an honorable man. I think it was politics. He became a book man who sold books for all schools. He had a beautiful daughter Naomi. She said I taught her to love history.
I went to School 2 first and was there four years. Mr. Lee sent me up to School 1 because they needed help with some children who were--let us say--full of pep. Nellie Ward was their teacher. I was at No.1 a year. They laid the cornerstone of Hawthorne School on my birthday, Jan.24, 1924. There was an eclipse of the sun that day.
Frank Sample came up to School 1 around February and asked if I'd like to be principal. I had turned down School 3--Emerson-- and Bogota, I had my father-in-law then. Mrs. Sample was on the board. I had Sonny Sample in school. Made him write a note to his mother telling her he was tardy. Now he is building boats in Massachusetts ant bought his mother a fine house.
Mr. Lee came after Mr. Jay. Then came Dr. Lester Neulen who took a course at Columbia that enabled him to make up a course for sack class in the system. He was working on language. He wanted me to get all the poems for each grade. He called Miss Norton for a selection. She called me and I gave her the poems all my classes read.
I was principal of Hawthorne School from 1924-1955. I want to thank the man who got No.5 school for Glenwood Park. That was Mr. Shulenberger. He went every where and said how much that school was needed. No. 4 had just been finished. We all fought to get No.5. I had one room in the school on the northwest corner. It was cold and damp. Teachers and children got colds. It needed renovating. The board wasn't doing anything. The PTA appointed a man to go to the board meeting. I had him ask me questions and I gave the answers. It cost $8,000 to waterproof the walls, install radiators, etc.
Yes, I remember Tony Manne. What did he die of? A heart attack? He had Miss Walsh as a teacher.
In G1enwood Park we had an athletic meet. We won the large cup for sixth graders and the baseball trophy. We won ever seventh and eighth grader. It was those tough little children who did this. Mr. Weekly was the coach. The children loved him.
I've learned a lot of Patience since I came here. I get cards ant letters from so many former pupils. Here is one from Mario Thompson Tambord, "To the best principal and teacher I could hope to have in 1934-35."
In 1960 I took a trip around the world. Rode in 32 planes -- San Francisco, Hawaii, then I went on a side trip to Fiji and Australia. Rejoined the group and went to India, Ceylon, Turkey, the Black Sea resorts, saw the Taj Mahal by moonlight, Egypt, through the Holy Land, Greece, Ita1y, Portugal, Spain and home. I was then 75. I saw the Himalayas, Nepal, Cambodia where they had shrines to some unknown lord. I have been to Alaska, Mexico, and Guatemala. The finest trip was on a cattle boat to South America. There were 12 of us -- all principals -- no men. We brought back 200 black, angus cattle to Texas.
When I started teaching we didn't have as many books or drawing materials as they have now. Mr. Jay looked for good disciplinarians. The children turned out fine. We didn't have vandalism. Yes, I was a strong disciplinarian. If you must know. Tony was quite a handful. Before they had my dinner Tommy Costa came to my school and said he was going deer hunting that day. I said you go and bring me some venison.1 didn't get it.
The Board of Education didn't give me the right salary -- what they paid in the larger school. The new board came on and asked if there was anything to complain about. I said I thought I should have the same salary as principals of larger schools. I'm not worried, I said. I have my career all out out, if I don't get the raise. I'll be a bouncer in a saloon.
I liked arithmetic and history and used to hold old fashioned spelling bees.1 know the new math, but I think the old is better. Now they learn subtraction by addition.
I came to the nursing home 11 years ago. My finances will keep me here until I'm 95, then I'll go to Bergen Pines and lot Rufus Little look after me.
I attained Normal School in Courtland, N. Y., Class of 1906. I taught first in Lodi where most of the people worked in the silk mills. I lived in Dumont. Took a train and two trolleys to got to Bogota when I taught there. I lived in Bergenfield when taught in Teaneck.
Being a principal was all right. I loved teaching.