Friday, January 26, 2007

Progress Report Report ...

Do you have any of your old report cards from your early days in school? Likely you do. My sister sent me one of mine. The top of it reads, “SOUTH PARK PUBLIC SCHOOLS of Beaumont Texas.” It goes on to read, “Winston Hamby, Giles School, Grade 1, 1941-1942. The bottom portion is signed, “Mrs. J. Kirby Hill, Home Room Teacher.” Back then they didn’t call them, “report cards,” but rather, “Progress Reports.”
Ms. Hill was everyone’s favorite teacher. All the big 6th graders loved her even though she taught 1st grade. She had a kind of motherly bearing about her. I knew from the first day we met that she loved me and wanted the best for me. Of course she felt that way about all her kids. I’m very thankful that I had her for 1st grade. It started me off with a good taste in my mouth about school.
On the reverse side of my Progress Report is the following statement to parents: “This report is an estimate of the progress and needs of your child. Please examine each page carefully and acknowledge its receipt by signing below. Signing this report will not necessarily mean an approval but will show you have examined it. If the report is not clear or if there is anything you wish to discuss with the teacher, you will be welcomed at the school.” This statement is signed by, C. W. BINGMAN, Superintendent.
I have fond memories of “Skipper” Bingman. He used to visit Giles School periodically. He stopped by each classroom to see how everyone was doing. He called each student by their first name and he knew all their brothers and sisters as well as their parents. I didn’t think much of it at the time but now I muse over how he was able to learn and keep up with all of that information. Anyway, Skipper had a kind face and comforting smile. All the kids adored him.
Down near the bottom of the reverse side of the card is a statement headed up, “PROMOTION.” The statement reads, “We recommend that Winston be placed in the 3rd grade level at the beginning of next semester.” Notice I jumped from the 1st grade to the 3rd grade. This was because the 12th grade system was initiated that following school year. Prior to this time, school ended with the 11th grade. My sister, being older than I am, skipped the 5th grade. So, in reality we went to school only 11 years but actually finished the 12th grade.
The inside of the card contains my grades for that school year. There were six grading periods each consisting of 6 weeks. I made an “S” in every subject, those being, Arithmetic, Reading, Spelling, and Writing. The marks and their meanings are as follows: “The letter ‘S’ indicates that the pupil is progressing satisfactorily for a pupil of his maturity. The letter ‘N’ indicates that the pupil needs to improve. The letter ‘C’ (Caution) indicates that the pupil is doing very poor work and if no improvement is made promotion will be endangered.” The card also shows that I missed 26 days of school that first year. I don’t remember being out that much although I did have my tonsils removed.
The remaining marks have to do with the following elements: “Behavior on Grounds, Behavior in Building, Co-operative, Courteous, Promptness, Thoroughness, Neatness, Self-Reliance, Carefulness, Dependableness, Follows Instructions, and Effort.”
Now, remember that this report card was for the first grade back in 1941-1942. You would think we were taking a college entrance exam. And now that I think about it, perhaps we were.

Winston Hamby --
The Beaumont Enterprise
January 27, 2007


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