Abbie Sawyer Retires
Tribune photo published May 31, 1952
Pupils at Crawford school presented their principal, Miss Abbie Sawyer, with a watch to honor her retirement after 35 years of service as an Ames schoolteacher and principal. Two kindergarten boys, Bruce Rogers and David Schworm, made the 1952 presentation. Miss Sawyer is especially remembered for starting the first Ames kindergarten class in 1917.
Tribune, May 7, 1952
MISS ABBIE SAWYER RESIGNS - "The greatest personal satisfaction I've had is watching these children grow up and develop." That comment is typical of a teacher devoted to her work - Miss Abbie Sawyer, principal of Crawford school, who has resigned after 35 years in the Ames school system. Her resignation will leave her "free to travel," a favorite hobby with the widely-known "schoolm'arm."
Looking back on her teaching career in Ames, Miss Sawyer comments, "It's been a most happy 35 years. And if I had it to do over again I would elect kindergarten and Ames." Kindergarten is Miss Sawyer's specialty. She started the first kindergarten class in Ames in the old Central school in 1917, her first year at Ames. Later kindergarten was added to the other three elementary schools in Ames. She taught kindergarten at the old Central building (later torn down to make room for Ames high school), until January, 1923, when she was named supervising principal at Roosevelt, then just newly built.
Nine years later she was transferred to Crawford, then just two years old as a supervising principal and kindergarten teacher. That was in 1932. Miss Sawyer has been at Crawford since - 20 years - and in 1949 was relieved of her teaching duties because of the expanding enrollment to devote her full time to principal's duties.
Miss Sawyer recalls that she came to Ames from Chicago where she had been doing special work in kindergarten studies at the University of Chicago. She had graduated from the Kindergarten Collegiate institute in Chicago earlier and already had a year of teaching experience at Glen Ellyn and Wheaton, suburbs of Chicago. The kindergarten movement was fairly new at that time. "The movement has come into its own within the last 20 to 25 years," Miss Sawyer explained.
At that time there were a lot of private kindergarten classes being conducted, but not in schools. When Miss Sawyer organized the first kindergarten class in the Ames school system, she had to make the best of what equipment there was - leftover desks and chairs, until the experiment proved itself.
|When Miss Sawyer came
to Crawford 20 years ago, she had about 100 pupils in the school.
Later in the 30's the enrollment dropped to about 85, but started climbing
again after that until at present she has 265, actually more than the school
can handle. The marked increase in enrollment started about 1947
when Pammel Court was first occupied - children at Crawford are predominantly
from faculty, professional and civil service families.
Crawford has always had two rooms of each grade through four including kindergarten until last year when a fifth grade was added and this year when a sixth grade was added.
Miss Sawyer likes to work with the young folks - the littlest folks - but she also feels that a varied group including kindergarten through the sixth grade is a good "social builder." "The younger children have to take the older children into consideration and in turn, the older children must look out for the younger ones. The large group is a good social builder."
Although she intends to travel quite a bit from now on, Miss Sawyer will still make Ames her home. She lives in her own home at 1102 Ridgewood with Miss Florence Langford. Miss Sawyer is already well-traveled. She's been abroad twice to Scandinavia, England, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. On her second trip in 1939 she returned to the U.S. on the Normandy "just ahead of the war."
She has also traveled extensively in the United States and Canada, and has been to Alaska. Last summer she attended an elementary principals convention at Asilomar, Calif.
With Miss Saywer for this photo are Rhea Barron (left, standing), Carolyn Bridger (right, standing), Mary Ann Bortle and Johnny Dunlap.
Tribune-Times, April 18, 1932
ROOSEVELT P.T.A. DINNER MEETING - The Roosevelt Parent Teacher association will hold a covered dish supper at 6:15 in the school as a farewell courtesy for Miss Abbie Sawyer, principal who is leaving at the end of the school year. Miss Sawyer will be principal at Louise Crawford school next fall.
A program of music and readings will be given by the pupils of Mrs. Ferne Gaunt and Mr. Day following the supper, and Mrs. C.M. McDowell will give several selections on the harp. Election of officers for the coming year will be held.
Tribune-Times, October 20, 1937
SUPT. LARSON AND PRINCIPALS DISCUSS CHARACTER TRAINING - Introducing his subject of "Pre-Adolescent Character Training," Supt. Larson told Parent-Teachers association council at its meeting Monday at 4 p.m., in the music pavilion, that "citizenship is a broad term for character training," as it will be carried on in the local program, which will deal not only with the moral viewpoint but will stress the broader aspects of citizenship. He quoted the terse statement of Calvin Coolidge: "It is not only what men know but what they are disposed to do with what they know that will determine the rise and fall of civilization." He also quoted Herbert Hoover: "Knowledge is secondary to a trained mind and serves no useful purpose unless it is the servant of an ambitious mind, a sound character and idealistic spirit. Social values outran economic values."
Then with the cooperation of four principals, Miss Abbie Sawyer of Louise Crawford, Mrs. Kate Mitchell of Lincoln, and Miss Hazel Bramer of Beardshear, through a question and answer discussion, Superintendent Larson brought out some of the definite traits desired in the character training of the elementary child and the means by which teachers strive to reach their goals. Miss Sawyer remarked that in the kindergarten, "the big job is to blend the individual into a group without harming the individuality - a process that requires many years of training."
To Miss Grobee character training in the social attitudes "must start with the traits which are developed in the home - sympathy and love, cooperation and courtesy, and safety: through these we must seek to correlate the home and the school."
Mrs. Mitchell, in speaking of personal traits as health, neatness, care of personal property, emphasized the point that desired goals be set,"and first of all create a desire to reach those goals. Set the example ourselves, encourage attempts in the right direction and discourage those in the wrong direction."
At Mr. Larson's suggestion Miss Bramer told of specific ways in which character education is taught through curricular subjects as geography, history, nature study, physical training. She also spoke of the plan of hosts and hostesses in each room at Beardshear to look after guests, of room responsibilities given to various children, of mottoes, posters, quotations - "all of them channels thru which we try to teach character training."
Mrs. F.C. Dana, chairman of the council, conducted the business meeting, mentioning the state P.T.A. convention which is to be held at Davenport Oct. 27, 28, and 29, and urging as large an attendance from Ames as possible. Mrs. John Vander Linden of Ames is to be on the program. Visitors are always welcome at the P.T.A. council meetings, which are held the third Monday of each month at the music pavilion at 4 p.m.
John Vander Linden's 1922-1923 kindergarten report card signed by Miss Abbie Sawyer