Worth Remembering (P.T.A.)

Worth Remembering

Herald Dispatch –November 19,1965

Written by: Charles Collett

Submitted by: Robert Kingrey

Today marks the golden anniversary of the Whitwell P.T.A organized November 19, 1915, thanks to the research by Mrs. Mildred C. Giles, one of the fine teachers at that school. Mrs. Giles takes pride in looking up facts about things in which she has an interest and schools is her life’s work as well a her hobby. Her home is at 2640 Tanner Drive, Ashland, and we owe her thanks for the facts that follow.

The first Parent Teacher’s Association in Ironton was organized as the Whitwell Mother’s Club. Records show that two teachers, Misses Mayme James and Esther Lambertwere leaders in organizing the club. The first officers were Mrs. Grace Riel, president, Mrs. Robert Mahaffey, vice president, Mrs. Frank Wileman, secretary. Two teachers, now retired, Miss Catherine Staab and Miss Elizabeth Berg attended the charter meeting. Others in attendance listed, as charter members were Mrs. Robert HammondMrs. John Pruitt, Mrs. Henry Bester and Mrs. James Keyes.

The old Whitwell school building erected in 1894 with high massive white steeple and white exterior ornamentation was replaced two years ago with a modern fireproof building. The entrance to the old building was on Fourth Street at Jones. The new building fronts on Fifth Street on the same old school playground.

The first meetings of the Mother’s Club were held in private homes until one afternoon Prof. Nicholas J. Titer; superintendent of schools was urged to attend as a guest speaker. Mr. Titer had taught at the Whitwell building shortly after its erection and he accepted the invitation. Teachers were a little shy of how the board of education might accept the interest mothers and teachers were taking or might interfere with the duties of the school board. After Supt. Riter accompanied by Fred W. Ehrlich, a former member of the school board, then president of the city council attended a meeting, the P.T.A. became a welcome organization at all the schools.

Members of the City board of Education when the first P.T.A. meeting broke the ice and was accepted as a civic movement for the betterment of the schools were E.L. Todd, Fred A. Ross, Cambridge C. Clarke, Dr. W.S. Eakman and W. Grant Ward. Up until that time school board meeting had been semi-private. The press had been treated ‘cool’, and the only news about the meetings was what the clerk gave out the next day after the meeting. One reporter who attempted to listen in at a meeting of the board in1908 when S. P. Humphrey was superintendent and a minority of the board was trying to fire him, was ushered from old building by the janitor who sat as door-man at the meeting room

The reporters name appears at the top of this column. Today he wants to Salute and congratulate the fine citizen and teachers who 50 years ago organized the first teachers P.T.A in the city.