Pulaski County Georgia Teachers Institute

About the year 1894 a teachers institute was organized and held in the courthouse. We had such an educational rally with the State school superintendent, Capt. Bradwell, and other out of town speakers, that it was decided that another institute would be held the following year.

In 189 the citizens of the town decided to have a county fair. They went to work and arranged the grounds south of the town on the banks of the Ocmulgee River, where they built a race track, and enclosed the grounds with a plank fence. In putting up the fair buildings the superintendent suggested the plan of having the buildings constructed in a T shape, keeping in mind the needs of future educational meetings.

After the fair was held that year a larger teachers’ institute, with a broader program, having entertainers and lecturers to take part, was proposed. The city council guaranteed funds to the amount of $600.00 for the expenses. Interest grew, and a Chautauqua was decided upon. The name Ocmulgee was given it. The superintendent was asked then to arrange the programs, fix the dates and advertise. Accordingly, in 189 a good program of educational lectures and entertainers was secured. This plan was followed for eight years with an enlargement each year, until the expenses amounted to $2,000.00. The last two years the responsibility was assumed by E. J. Henry and the superintendent.

These Chautauqua programs consisted of addresses from the leading educators of the State. Teachers from Laurens, Washington, Dooly, and other counties attended in a body. The State superintendents held their first meeting here at that time. Year after year the programs enlarged, and during the last two years the public school orchestra, consisting of thirty-two pieces, was under the direction of Prof. W. C. Kaler of Macon, then teacher in the school. The corps of teachers in the school at that time lent untiring efforts, and assisted greatly in the success of the Chautauqua movement.
Prof. T. G. Polhill, a Hawkinsvillian, was elected to succeed Professor Ware in 1904. He, with a splendid corps of teachers made up largely of excellent home talent, maintained the school on the high plane upon which it had been placed by Professor Ware. It was during Professor Polhill’s administration that the rule barring home talent from the school was adopted by the trustees, and, while it proved to be a wise move, it robbed the school of much of its best talent.

The following trustees served during Professor Polhill’s administration, practically every one acting as chairman at some time, since the chairmanship rotated yearly:
F. H. Bozeman
W. F. Bragg
A. Mack
T. H. Grace
R. F. DeLamar
W. A. Jelks
Warren Grice
J. Tarver
J. C. Henderson
A. T. Fountain, Sr.
T. B. Ragan
J. Batts
M. Turner
E. Somer
R. A. Moore
H. H. Sparrow
A. D. Rodgers
Z. V. Peacock
J. A. Polhill was treasurer for many years.

Professor Polhill served as superintendent for eight years and was succeeded by Prof. H. D. Knowles in 1912. Prof. Knowles had been principal for several years and proved himself a very able administrator. During his superintendency the school building was enlarged to the present capacity.
The following trustees served during Professor Knowles’ occupancy:
R. A. Moore
H. H. Sparrow
Z. V. Peacock
E. C. Brown
Frank Waterman
J. C. Caldwell
A. F. Dortch
C. W. E. Marsh
N. A. Jelks
H. F. Lawson
M. Thompson
W. C. Merritt.

In 1916 Prof. J. F. Lambert was elected to fill the unexpired term of Professor Knowles, who had been elected as superintendent of the Quitman schools. Professor Lambert filled the place creditably f or three years and was succeeded by Prof. H. L. Swain in 1919. Professor Swain was soon succeeded by Prof. L. F. Poindexter, who was succeeded by Prof. M. W. Harris in February 1920.
The following trustees served during the years 1916 to 1920:
C. W. E. Marsh
N. A. Jelks
H. F. Lawson
M. Thompson
J. J. Harvard
Frank Anderson
J. P. McGriff.

Professor Harris, though very young, this being his first experience as superintendent, made a most excellent administrator. Through his efforts, linked with the fine cooperation of an able corps of teachers, the school gained the Southern accredited list, the highest grade in Southern schools. Mr. Harris was greatly assisted by the Parent-Teacher Association, organized early in his administration. Through their efforts a domestic science department was installed, and playgrounds equipped. This splendid organization is still functioning to the great benefit of the school, recently adding new books to the library and improving the laboratories.

The trustees of the school have always been men of high standing in the community. This is accounted for largely by the fact that it is an appointive office. Early in the administration of Professor Harris, two of the most prominent members of the board, Mr. Frank Anderson and Dr. J. J. Stone, were called to the Great Beyond. In these men the school lost two of its staunchest supporters, and the community two of its best citizens.
The trustees serving during the occupancy of Professor Harris and up to the present time are:
J. J. Harvard
J. J. Stone
N. A. Jelks
Frank Anderson
H. F. Lawson
J. P. McGriff
Morgan Thompson
L. R. Langford
G. W. Newsome
R. F. DeLamar, Jr.
D. E. Duggan
J. R. Franklin
J. F. Saunders

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