Monday, November 7, 2011

Prospect Elementary School Cont.

My Favorite Teacher

In September of 1950 I entered the fifth grade at Prospect Elementary School.  I had just celebrated my tenth birthday and was about to begin the best year of my career at Prospect.  It was then that I met Mrs. Hazel Cramer, our fifth grade teacher.  Mrs. Cramer’s classroom was in the old section of the school overlooking the Playground on the South side of the building.  This was the first time our class met in the old building.  Our Kindergarten through fourth grade classrooms had all been in the newest section of the school overlooking the Euclid Avenue playground.  Moving to the old building seemed to be a significant step in our maturation.  We were now closer to the seat of power (Mr. Preston and Miss Woodruff) and quite separated from the younger children.  I believe we even used a separate entrance. 

Most of us can identify one or more people, who had a great impact on our lives.  That person may be a friend or relative or some other adult, whom we look to for guidance and inspiration.  Often that person is a teacher.  I have had many teachers in my life.  Most of them had some influence on the person I have become.  However, very few of those teachers stand out from all the others.  Hazel Cramer was the teacher, who was first able to inspire me to grow and achieve.  The year I spent with her was a breakout year for me in many ways and not just in school.
 
As I said earlier, I spent the first five years of my school career just getting by.  I did as much work as necessary but no more.  I knew the stuff I was doing was important but I wasn’t really inspired by it.  I was also somewhat shy and introverted.  I think I was self conscious about the fact that I wore glasses and that my left eye turned in.  For that reason, I believe, I seldom volunteered or put myself out there.  I didn’t want to call attention to myself.  That all changed in the fifth grade.  A lot of that change I attribute to Hazel Cramer.

Hazel Cramer was a trained teacher, who probably knew all the latest thinking on educational theories and techniques.  However, I’m sure all my other teachers had been just as well trained.  If there was any one technique Mrs. Cramer used with me, I believe it was positive reinforcement.  The difference is that I don’t believe that was just a technique with her.  She was a very nice and caring person.  Without even realizing it, I found myself participating more in class.  I came out of my shell and lost many of my inhibitions.  I was able to do that because Mrs. Cramer gave me the support and encouragement I needed to achieve my potential.  I found myself wanting to do things to please her and as a result I was feeling better about myself.  In retrospect that awakening I experienced in the fifth grade may have been influenced by factors outside of my school life as well.  I had a wonderful group of peers in my neighborhood, which provided a comfortable environment in which to develop my interpersonal skills.  Some of my new sense of security and confidence may have been a result of normal maturation.  That being said, I believe my relationship with Mrs. Cramer in school that year was the major influence on my success in school and in life generally.  I will always remember her fondly.

For some reason my fifth grade class is the only group for which I do not have a class picture.  I think they may not have made class pictures that year.  I did correspond with Mrs. Cramer briefly after graduating from Prospect School.  The entry she made in my graduation autograph book is shown below along with a picture of Mrs. Cramer taken at her Cleveland Heights home in July, 1951.

Later in life I got to know Mrs. Cramer’s daughter, also named Hazel Cramer.  At that time both Hazel and I were attending Western Reserve University.  Hazel was studying French.  She went on to become a very successful Professor of French at State University of New York in Cortland.  I have recently corresponded with Hazel, who informs me that both of her parents have passed away.  I had hoped that her mother was still alive so I could tell her how important she was in my life.  Unfortunately I waited too long.  However I hope I was able to demonstrate my regard for her back in the day.  I am sure that she had similar influence on the lives of many students during her time at Prospect Elementary School.

Sixth Grade and Graduation from Prospect Elementary School

In September, 1951 I finally met Miss Woodruff, the authority figure, whom I dreaded for most of my career at Prospect.  As I wrote earlier, she was in charge of school discipline and ran the Safety Patrol.  Any minor infraction could result in the miscreant being “sent up to Woodie”.  She was also my sixth grade teacher.  I found her to be a very pleasant person, not anywhere near as fearsome as her reputation.  By that time I also had the self confidence to not be intimidated by her reputation.  She was always fair and helpful to me.  Having adopted a new attitude toward myself and school in the fifth grade, I think I was better prepared to succeed in the sixth grade.  I even served on the Safety Patrol.  That meant I could wear a badge while guarding various entrance doors and halls.  I even got to ring the school bell on several occasions.  I never got the prime assignment for a Safety, which was working the crossing at Shaw and Euclid along with Patrolman Jack Baker.  Miss Woodruff was an important influence on my life both as an unseen and distant disciplinary figure and a close up classroom teacher.
Prospect Elementary 6th Grade - Miss Woodruff

Note:  Miss Woodruff top row right
Robert Dreifort bottom row left

We had a second teacher in the sixth grade.  Her name was Mrs. Porter.  Mrs. Porter’s classroom was across the hall from Miss Woodruff’s room.  The class moved to Mrs. Porter’s room once a week or so for our music lesson.  For some reason Miss Woodruff did not teach music.  This was unusual, because all the teachers in the Kindergarten through fifth grade had a piano in the classroom and taught music as a regular part of the curriculum.  Moving from one classroom to another for music in the sixth grade did prepare us for the fact that we would be moving from class to class and teacher to teacher, when we moved on to Kirk and Shaw.   

In addition to the classroom music lessons, the East Cleveland School District employed an elementary school music instructor, who served all six elementary schools.  Her name was Marjorie Shields.  Miss Shields met with students in their classrooms and worked with large groups of students in the Auditorium on choral music.  She later moved up to Shaw High School where she directed the choral music program.   
Prospect students were also able to take instrumental music.  I think that happened in about the fifth grade.  The instrumental lessons were given in the Shaw High School band room located in the wooden barracks like building adjacent to our playground.  I briefly took trumpet lessons in that program.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the interest or dedication to keep up with those lessons.  The next time I decided to take trumpet lessons was when I was 28 years old.  I have been playing trumpet and leading a community dance band ever since.  Perhaps the seed for my musical career was planted back in Prospect School.  The link below is to my dance band, the Smart Set. 


I graduated from Prospect Elementary School in June of 1952.  My experiences at Prospect prepared me well for the move to Kirk and Shaw as well as the entire life before me.   I had an autograph book at that time.  Some of the messages from Prospect staff and my fellow students are included below:


13 comments:

  1. Great blog. I went to Caledonia in 1956.

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  2. I enjoyed the blog, too. I went through Caledonia, Kirk, and Shaw, graduating in January 1962. I've been trying to remember the words to a song we sang at Caledonia, as we marched around the auditorium before leaving for Christmas vacations. I think it started, "Don, o earth thy fairest raiments..." (Or, am I losing my mind!?)

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    1. Andy Beal - Caledonia 1956-1961August 19, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      We have been trying to remember the words to that song for years. It is not anywhere on Google (it may be the only info known to manking NOT on Google!) I'm not sure if raiment(s) was singular or plural, but otherwise that's definitely how the song started.

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    2. Jerry Greenblatt (Caledonia, Kirk, Shaw 1964)January 13, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      Let me try:

      Don, oh Earth, thy fairest raiment,
      Carol, birds, a joyous strain,
      (Da dadah da dah da dada),
      Mingle in the glad refrain,
      Sing and shout aloud with gladness,
      Send the tidings far and wide,
      Day of all the year the brightest,
      Once again 'tis Christmas tide.

      I remember that this carol was written by a Caledonia alum, a woman, I think, but I don't know the writer's name. Do you remember the alma mater? I do.

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    3. I was at Caledonia in 1962 in kindergarten. I remember our teacher, Mrs. Johnston, preparing us to lead the march around the auditorium. We were wearing little santa hats that we had made from red crepe paper (I think) with white cotton balls that we glued on the tips. We marched around in pairs, holding hands, boy-girl. I think the words to the song were:
      Don o' earth thy fairest raiment,
      Carol birds a joyous strain,
      Peals of laughter and enjoyment,
      Mingled in a glad refrain,
      .... ...... , spread the word both far and wide,
      .... ......, once again it's Christmastide.
      That's just from memory--sorry I can't remember it completely. I loved that school and Mrs. Johnston also

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    4. I'm happy to to hear those memories of Caledonia. I lived in that neighborhood, but did not attend Caledonia. I was in the eighth grade at Kirk, when we moved to Nela View in 1953. My sister attended Caledonia and I spent a lot of time playing ball in the playground there. I will be posting some memories of those times soon.

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  3. I'm glad to have found this blog! I'm a Caledonia, Kirk, Shaw grad as were my brother, dad and aunt. My grandmother's house was on Nela View.

    From the words above and my memories of traipsing around the Caledonia gym in the 50's and early 60's, here's what I came up with:

    Don, oh earth, thy fairest raiment(s)
    Carol birds - a joyous strain,
    Peals of bells and merry laughter
    Mingle in the glad refrain,
    Sing and shout aloud the gladness,
    Sound the tidings far and wide,
    Day of all the year the brightest,
    Once again ‘tis Christmastide.

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  4. I lived on Dresden across from the library and attended Caledonia K-6, Kirk, and Shaw, graduating in 1965. It will be 50 years next year! My memory of the words to the Christmas processional are the same except for "Sing and shout aloud WITH gladness." My mother had 3 children singing "Donna Worth thy fairest Raymond, Carol birds a joyous train." We certainly didn't understand it in tthe beginning. About 10 years ago a classmate asked where he could find the song. He said he googled it , but got nothing. I wonder who wrote it. Thanks! It was a great time and place to grow up!

    ..

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    1. Thanks for your comment. We had a Christmas pageant every year at Prospect. The 6th Grade always did a nativity play, the same thing every year. I watched it for 6 years (K - 5) until I got a chance to be in it. The lower grades also did an act each year. Those sure were different times. They couldn't do that today. My friend Rachel Probst and her family moved from Shaw Avenue to Dresden sometime in the late 50s. She played trumpet in the Shaw Marching Band. She graduated from Shaw in 1960. The last time I saw her was in about 1961, when she was selected to be Queen of East Cleveland. Shortly after that I moved to Chicago for a couple of years and lost touch with her. It would be great to see her again.

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  5. I am writing a novel called "School".
    "Don, Oh Earth" was one of my best memories
    of Caledonia...Wanted to quote it in my book..
    Wish we knew the composer
    THANKS SO MUCH!
    Gair Linhart
    www.GairLinhart.com
    (The audio of my poetry compilation "Running Out To Recess"
    may be of interest to some readers here - Please go to the site, click
    "Music, Old & New" scroll down to #9 and listen.

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  6. Gair: Thanks for your comment. I don't know about the author of the Caledonia song. I guess you could consider it in the public domain. Let us know when you have published your novel.

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  7. Every year about this time, I get an "ear worm" of "Don O' Earth. Thanks to the memories posted here, I've been able to come up with the complete (as I remember it)version of the song. Both my husband and I went through Caledonia, Kirk and Shaw H.S. He graduated in Jan. 1961, I graduated in Jan. 1962.

    We remember singing this as we marched around the Caledonia auditorium/gymnasium, and out the door, as we were released for Christmas vacation.

    Don, O’ Earth thy fairest raiment,
    Carole birds a joyous strain,
    Peals of bells and merry laughter
    Mingle in a glad refrain.
    Sing and shout aloud with gladness,
    Sound the tidings far and wide,
    Day of all the year the brightest,
    Once again 'tis Christmas tide.

    My mother, who also went to Caledonia Elementary, once told me she thought the song had been written by Donald Williams, perhaps a music teacher for the East Cleveland School District. I've never been able to confirm that. She said she thought he had also written "Caledonia on the Hillcrest".

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    1. Thanks for your comment. My memories of Caledonia are second hand. I went to Prospect and moved to the Caledonia neighborhood when I was in eighth grade at Kirk. I am fond of both of my East Cleveland neighborhoods. My sister went to Caledonia for grades 4,5,and 6. I also experience Caledonia School through the memories of my Caledonia neighborhood friends. Did you see my February 2014 post on the Caledonia neighborhood. Keep reading and posting your memories. I will do my best to keep mine coming.

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