September 19 – Happy Birthday Clara S. Bacon

clarabacon222(Here are some excerpts from my Birthday Post for former Amsterdam school administrator, Clara Bacon.The entire post will appear in the second edition of my book entitled; A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam NY Birthdays, which will be available for sale in November of 2016)

…in 1972, while a senior at Amsterdam High School, there was a knock on the door of my classroom and a student handed my teacher a note instructing me to come to the main office. As I walked to that destination I was trying to remember what transgression I had committed to warrant the invitation but when I got there, I was given a nice surprise. I had been named the very first winner of the Clara S. Bacon Memorial Scholarship for excellence in history. I remember spending the next few days wondering with great anticipation what the honor was worth. I have to admit I was more than a bit disappointed to receive a check for just $35. I ended up buying a keg of beer with my “scholarship” and having a hell-of-a-party with my buddies. The first thing we did after tapping that keg was drink a toast to a lady none of us knew anything about at the time…

…In 1922 she came to Amsterdam to serve as Assistant Superintendent and she remained in that position for the next quarter century, retiring in 1947…

…During the years she served in that position here in Amsterdam, Bacon also taught summer school at several of this state’s teacher colleges. She authored and co-authored three different textbooks for English in secondary schools and an entire series of spelling books for the elementary level. Her articles on educational curriculum frequently appeared in the nationally known Journal of Educational Methods. She was much in demand on the educational circuit as a guest lecturer. She was invited to speak about education at NYU, Columbia, Syracuse and Cornell numerous times. In addition, she served as President of the New York State Teachers Association, chaired a state ed committee determining how to measure the success and effectiveness of elementary schools and served on another one that studied how to measure and improve teaching effectiveness. She also chaired the committee on education for the New York State League of Women Voters…

The one-time Guy Park Avenue home of Clara Bacon.
The one-time Guy Park Avenue home of Clara Bacon.

…Bacon came to Amsterdam the very same year that one-time Amsterdam High School principal, Wilbur Lynch returned to the district as Superintendent. The Harvard educated Lynch had spent seven years as director of the system of American schools that existed in Mexico City and also served as the head of Oneonta Teachers College. Under the leadership of Lynch and Bacon, Amsterdam’s public schools gained a reputation for excellence that extended statewide. One might wonder why, when Lynch retired as the head of this city’s schools in 1938, Bacon did not get his job. I’m not certain the actual reason but I’m going to guess a lot of it had to do with the fact that she was not a “he.”…

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