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Teaneck's Public Schools Then and Now
A Budget Booklet printed in 1939 compares Then and Now in the Teaneck Public Schools, starting with 1639 when, it states, "Reading and writing were fads and frills.' In 1739, "Arithmetic was a fad." By 1839. "Geography and history were the furbelows of the public schools." And in 1939, the year of publication, "Certain vocational, cultural, and social subjects are regarded as frills...(and) improved transportation and communication, mechanical inventions, growth in business and industrial enterprise, and rapidly developing social and economic problems demand a broader education for adjustment."
The booklet's preface states: "Yesterday, education was the key to individual success, to making one's way in life, to getting on and getting ahead."
It continues: "With (a) consciousness of changing social needs, education is the key to the realization of individual personality and the promotion of the general welfare."
It conclude: "In 1639, our nation possessed all the wealth it owns today. except that which has been added by the energy of an increasingly intelligent and educated people."
Board of education records don't go back to the 1600's (the Teaneck School District was not formed until I 1854), but there is a handwritten record of Board meetings from 1896 to 1898. A major problem in those years seems to have been sending Teaneck students to other districts, receiving students from outside, and determining how much tuition should be paid or charged.
Were the good old days so wonderful! In October, 1896, "Motion made and carried that $25 reward be offered for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who broke into the Teaneck School No.2 during the month of August and maliciously destroyed Clock Books and other school property."
Curriculum changes go back many years...In March, 1897, a motion was made "that the Teachers be instructed there be copy books and a course of Penmanship be taught."
Teaneck teachers have always been the finest! In 1914, the program for the Graduating Exercises of the Teaneck Grammar Schools lists 28 8th graders. and notes that the first honor went to Edith Helen Tepper. Miss Tepper later graduated number one in her class at Englewood High School. In 1922, she started teaching grades 7 and 8 at Washington Irving. She moved to the high school when it opened in 1929, and she taught social studies and served as Student Activities Director until her retirement in 1960.
The history of vocal and involved parents is a long one...Retired THS teacher Bill Moore relates an anecdote about Paul Volcker, Jr., who is now chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, and his father, who was Teaneck's first Township Manager. When Paul Jr. was absent for the first time, his home room teacher. Mr. Moore, was surprised. It was all explained the next day in a note from Paul Volcker, Sr., who wrote, "Please excuse Paul's absence yesterday ...I took him fishing. I figure that a day of fishing is worth a day at school."
Teaneck Schools today have an enrollment of about 5,050 housed in two primary schools, six elementary schools, two junior highs, and a high school. A variety of courses and programs includes: gifted and talented programs, special education, vocational education, open education, team teaching, alternative programs, honors and advanced placement courses, computer education, extra-curricular activities, interscholastic and intramural sports, art, vocal and instrumental music, remedial reading, guidance and health services, foreign language from 7th grade, creative writing, dance, drama, educational incentives and staff development for teachers...and more. The 1983-84 school budget was passed by a wide margin, a vote of confidence in difficult economic times. There have been a few changes in 300 years, and many challenges, but with a winning combination of dedicated Board members, administration, and staff, and an involved and supportive community -- the best is yet to come!
Teaneck Public Library
840 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666
Tel.: (201) 837-4171, Fax: (201) 837-0410