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Tazewell County Education Records

Originally contributed in 2000 by
Joy Wojtas
Certification Specialist
Tazewell County Regional Office of Education
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Updates supplied September 2017 by
Patrick Durley
Regional Superintendent of Schools
Mason-Tazewell-Woodford
Regional Office of Education #53

The Tazewell County Regional Office of Education (ROE) located at 414 Court Street in Pekin, Illinois is pleased to inform county residents of records dating back to 1911 through 1962 which may be of assistance for research purposes.  During the past one hundred years, many changes have taken place in education.  The maintaining of various records gives future generations some insight into what was happening during a particular period of time.

On July 1, 2015, due to a statewide consolidation directed by the Illinois State Board of Education, nine Regional Offices of Education were eliminated and consolidated down to 35 ROEs and 3 suburban Cook County Intermediate Service Centers (ISCs).  As a result, the Mason and Woodford Regional Offices were merged with the Tazewell County Regional Office - changing ROE#53 to a multi-county office.

There have been thirteen County Superintendents of Education beginning with:

  • A.M. Wells from 1901-1911;
  • Ben L. Smith 1911-1919;
  • BI Martin 1919-1927;
  • F.R. Isenburg 1927-1943;
  • L.L. Atteberry 1943-1963;
  • H.A. Schermerhorn 1963-1975;
  • John R. Oberle 1975-76;
  • Solie G. Myers 1976-1995;
  • Thomas J. Innis 1995-1999;
  • Thomas J. Wojtas 1999-2003;
  • Robin G. Houchin - 2003-2011;
  • Gail S. Owen - 2011-2016;
  • Patrick Durley - 2016-present

    Early records indicate that the County Superintendent was indeed the superintendent for the entire county with all reports directed to the office.  Currently Tazewell County has eighteen public school districts each having their own district superintendent.  Eleven communities are represented.

    For instance, in 1911 there were 125 school districts from nineteen townships.  Many of the school districts began the school year September 4th and ended on May 3rd.  Teachers taught 170 days at an average compensation of $50 per month.  Grades were reported numerically with typical schools housing between 20 to 28 students representing grades 1 through 8.  Records on daily attendance were kept with a question asked if the work was passing for each student.  Interestingly, academic success, even back in the early part of the century, correlated with attendance.  Students missing excessive days of school often failed.

    In the teacher's summary report, questions were asked as to the value of school apparatus; the number of volumes of books in the library and the number of living trees on the school grounds.  Additional questions asked if the teacher was following the county course or supplementing coursework with the state course.  Finally, a section was devoted to any teacher remarks to the superintendent with the following note:

"State what your school needs in apparatus, blackboards, etc; also give the names of pupils not provided with books, naming the books needed.  Suggest wherein the County Superintendent can co-operate with you for the advancement of your school, etc."

    The 1920's requested additional information on the "Yearly Report of Classification, Standing, Advancement and Attendance."  Some schools began the year as early as August 29th and ending in early May.  The total number of attendance days ranged from as few as 150 days to as many as 173.  The typical school day began at 9:00 AM and ended at 4:00 PM with daily programs listed with beginning times, length in minutes, and with what subject being taught. Teacher salaries were now between $90 and $135 per month.

    Questions regarding the value of the school library, general condition of library books, general condition of the schoolroom and number of trees in thriving condition.  Inquiry was also made as to the condition of the out buildings for boys and girls as well as the coalhouse.  Some teachers were beginning to use letter grades such as E, G, F and U.  The number of visits by the superintendent, school officers and others was also detailed.

    From some of the examples cited above, one can get a glimpse of what school conditions were like earlier in the century in Tazewell County.  While specific individual student records cannot be disclosed, directory information can be verified.  The Regional Office of Education's hours are from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  The office phone number is (309) 477-2290 or visit us at our website.

 

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Pekin, Illinois 61555-0312
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