The honor of being the first woman elected to trusteeship on a county school board in Virginia is claimed by Mrs. Belle B. Turner of Lanexa, New Kent county. The name of Mrs. Turner was placed in nomination at a meeting of the Trustee Electoral Board on October 4, 1920, and favorably voted on. She qualified as trustee of Cumberland district on November 23, 1920, her term of office to expire September 1, 1923.
Mrs Turner is the proud mother of a bright-eyed little daughter and a partner with her husband in the successful operation of the Bellecourt Dairy Farm at Lanexa. Aside from possessing unusual business qualifications Mrs. Turner is familiar with the problems of the rural school, teacher having at one time been a teacher herself in the public schools of the State.
Interrogated as to her opinion of the importance of the recent recognition of the active citizenship of women Mrs Turner had the following to say. The amendment to the Federal Constitution which gave women of this and other States the right to vote empowered them with a great privilege and a greater responsibility One of the most needed services women can render is that of helping to improve the public school system. In no other branch of public Service can women exercise to more advantage their new citizenship.
"Women and especially mothers, many of whom have been teachers, are really the best judges of results in child training. Excepting the hearthstone, there is no place more propitious to the teaching of fine citizenship than in the schoolroom and on the school grounds. It is incumbent on every voter in the State to do his utmost to place on school boards men and women who are capable of passing on the merits of good and bad instruction."
"The rural supervisor is a great asset to the rural school system. She has her finger on the pulse of school affairs at all times. She is the mutual helper of School board and school teacher. She is the friend to those who need her most- the children."
"Our schools of today harbor our citizens of tomorrow Citizenship is the supreme aim of education. Teamwork and the recognition of the square deal must be taught our children. This is the surest way in the tangled skein of human existence to bridge the gulf of malice and distrust which separates in modern civilization for instance Capital and Labor. The day is coming thanks to an efficient school system when these two forces must pull together like two old tired farm horses."
Furthermore good teachers are essential to good schools. Good teachers demand good salaries We cannot pay good salaries unless funds are available and the Surest way to have money available is to spend our money in Virginia. There is no reason why under the sun of new opportunities in Virginia the school system of this State should not stand second to none in the United States of America
HERMAN L. HARRIS, Superintendent
-Virginia Journal of Education, February 1924- (Vol. XIV No.6)Virginia State Teachers' Association, Virginia Education Association
The school trustees of that time corresponded to the school board members of our present day. If you are interested in their role . . .
23. The duties of boards of school trustees shall be in general as follows subject to be defined more particularly by the Board of Education and in other parts of this law to wit-
First, To explain and enforce the school laws and regulations and observe the same.
Second, To employ teachers, and to dismiss them when delinquent, inefficient, or in anywise unworthy of the position.
Third, To suspend or dismiss pupils when the prosperity and efficiency of the schools make it necessary.
Fourth, To decide what children, wishing to enter the schools of the district, are entitled, by reason of the poverty of their parents or guardians, to receive textbooks free of charge, and to provide for supplying them accordingly.
Fifth, To see that the census of children, required by section twenty five, is taken in the proper time and in proper manner.
Sixth, To hold regular meetings at fixed periods to be prescribed by the Board of Education and special meetings when called by the chairman or by any two members.
Seventh, To call meetings of the people of the district for consultation in regard to the school interests thereof at which meetings the chairman or some other member of the board shall preside, if present.
Eighth, On or before the fifteenth day of July in each year to prepare and return to the president of the county school board to be by him laid before the board at its earliest meeting, an estimate of the amount of money which will be needed in the district during the next scholastic year for providing school houses, school books for indigent children, and other school appliance and necessary, proper and lawful expenses.
Ninth, To take care of, manage and control the school property of the district. And where in any school district a school house belonging to the public free schools of said district is unoccupied and unused for public free school purposes, because of want of school funds to employ a teacher therefor the school trustees for the district in which said school house is situated may permit the same, under such regulations and rules as to them may seem proper to be occupied and used for school purposes by any teacher though not employed by said school board: provided that such arrangement shall not in any wise interfere with or prevent said school house being occupied and used at any time by said trustees for public free school purposes.
Tenth, To report on any special matter when required by the county superintendent of schools, and to report to him, annually, by the fifteenth day of August, down to the first day of that month, on all subjects indicated in the blank forms supplied for the purpose.
Eleventh, To visit the public free schools within the district, from time to time, and to take care that they are conducted according to law, and within the utmost efficiency.
Virginia State Teachers' Association, Virginia Education Association