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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches

Mary E Burke

Mary E Burke

This article appeared in the Chester Times sometime during the mid to late 1920's
Contributed by Terry McHugh, tomch58@yahoo.com


Miss Mary E Burke to Give Up Title of Longest in Service

Miss Mary E. Burke, a teacher at the Graham school, is preparing to relinquish her title as the oldest teacher in point of service in the Chester public schools, She is rounding out her fifty-first consecutive year and will probably be placed on retirement pay at the end of the present term.

Miss Burke, who reluctantly admits that she is probably teaching grandchildren of pupils she taught when she was first appointed in 1878, is sorry that she will have to stop her work, but admits that she is entitled to a well earned rest after a half century of grooming children in the three R’s.

She first taught at the old Franklin school, but later was a teacher at the Gartside, Chester High School and was at the Starr school before her removal to the Graham school. She at one time was principal of the Franklin School.

During her consecutive years of teaching she lost only a few weeks in 1921 with illness and attributes her good health to her systematic mode of living.

She has been a close student to the progress made in the methods of teaching and says that much more is expected of the modern teacher than was expected when Chester was a hamlet, a half century ago. She adds that even the pupils have changed and that the modern child has to be urged more to study than their grandparents did.

The much discussed question of the moving picture being a detriment to the child was repudiated by Miss Burke, who believes that the moving is an aid to the child’s education, providing that the child sees the proper picture. But the teacher adds that the picture, while an aid in some respects, fails to make the impression the constant reading on the subject does and the average modern child lacks the quick thinking and reasoning powers that the children of yesteryear acquired by constant reading.

Children of today are much better dressed than they were in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

"Some of the older pupils appear as though they were dressed for a special social function," said Miss Burke, "but the world has progressed so much that we must expect that, and I differ with some in that the dress of the modern girl had any effect on the morals of the youth of today, In fact, I think the students of today are morally better than those of the late seventies and early eighties."

Miss Burke is one the few remaining teachers who received their appointment during the superintendency of the late Charles F Foster, who held that office in this city for twenty-five years.

She watched the city grow and the constantly changing methods of education compelled her, with others, to periodically take advanced courses. She is known to thousands of school children in Chester and frequently a mother with her babies will stop the teacher on the street, and after renewing acquaintance, engage in a reminiscent conversation





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2000 John A. Bullock III.

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