Poor School has Full-Time Teacher of Good Manners
LIBERTY, Okla. (AP) This tiny community has one of the poorest schools in the whole state, but it has a full time teacher who does nothing but teach the children good manners. It was the idea of Leroy Taylor, the school principal for 18 years, who says there is “a national mood a national need for more respect.” The federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare put up $16,000, through the Oklahoma Department of Education, to hire a manners teacher this fall for Liberty's 210 school children and to buy the necessary supplies. If an evaluation to be made this spring shows the program is worthwhile, it could be funded for two more years. Taylor has no doubts that it will.
“It, potentially, is the finest program we have ever had here,” he said in an interview this week. “It's not like a good calculus course. It can involve every child it just has to. From the most gifted to the one with the least ability, they all can prosper from it.” Most of the parents of Liberty's students work in nearby Fort Smith, Ark. In terms of taxable property, the school district is the second poorest in Oklahoma. So far, there has been no criticism from parents, educators said. Instead, there have been reports the program is working. For instance, first grader James Allsup surprised his mother by quietly pulling back a chair for his fifth-grade sister at a hamburger dinner. Noticing a bit of food at the corner of his sister's mouth, James twirled his napkin into a point, leaned over and deftly dabbed it away.
“What it all boils down to is attitude ... the right attitude ... more respect,” says Ann Hogan, the manners teacher. Because more mothers are working today and the lifestyle is faster paced, manners may not be getting as much attention as they once did, Mrs. Hogan said. The Liberty curriculum varies from class to class and ranges from table manners to how to react “if you come across a person with no legs,” Mrs. Hogan says. How should one react? “Physically, it makes him different,” Mrs. Hogan says to her students. “But, inside, he is just like you. He has feelings.” The program deals with a variety of topics including how to accept compliments and criticism, bragging and boasting, introductions, and proper dress and conduct, whether on the playground, on a first date or at a funeral. — 1979
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