Lannon State Graded (Elementary) School Teachers
and School History
Compiled by Mike Reilly 06/04/04
At the old stone school house
There is evidence that from when public schooling was created in Wisconsin under the State first constitution, that grades only ranged from 1st thru 5th, and some sort of "high school" or upper level classes were offered to students. When a child started school was not determined by age so much, but what the teacher felt he or she knew in comparison to other students. For instance, a 4 year old might be judged to know as much as a 2nd grader and initially placed in that class level. Ruth Schmidt, the late Merton historian, wrote that when she went to school in the early 1900's, she learned more by osmosis, listening to the upper grades in her class doing their recitations, math problems, and so on, than she did from the curriculum she was taught. She was also in a school that had all eight grades in a single room. She started in the 2nd Grade and actually skipped two other elementary school grades along the way to "graduation". At this time, it's not known if Lannon started out with a single room school house or when the first school house was actually built on the site of the stone, and later, wooden building.
At the new/old wood two-story
By accounts this building started with four rooms (two down, two up ?)
Lannon became a "first class graded school" sometime before 1910. Up until this time the school probably only had grades 1-5.
(Question - Did teachers have not only a classroom with 1 or 2 grades to teach, but also specialize in teaching math, science literature, etc., to the entire school? There are many references to the Algebra Class or the Science Class, and the Literary Society. Also note that the Principal usually taught class as well.) The entries below for teachers up to 1987, except for the position of Principal may/don't actually reflect the class(es) they actually taught
Also, did the position of Principal exist prior to 1915 (see Education History)? By newspaper accounts, one William Ryan was the Lannon principal in 1909; were there "supervisory teachers" before and/or after this?
The class distribution below reflects what many, but not necessarily what Lannon had: Grades 1-3 were considered "Primary", 4-5, "Intermediate", and 6-8 were "Grammar" school grades.
By 1924, Lannon State Graded School was offering 9th and 10th Grades
The school (in 1925-35?) had three rooms downstairs and two up.
In a interview with Keith Gissal, 10/18/2000, he explained that 8th was in the same room as the 9th &10th grades; 8th on one side of the room, the "high schoolers" on the other. Depending on when you entered 8th, the "high schoolers" were being taught either freshman or sophomore curriculum, the next year they were taught the other. So as a 8th grader, you could have listened to sophomore class level courses being taught, then as a freshman (when you moved across the room the next year) you could have sat through the same sophomore curriculum or be taught the freshman version.
Teachers at the new school
1939 - new Lannon Elementary School is built and dedicated on September 1st, and classes began on Monday September 11th. Grade 1 had 8 enrolled; grade 2 - 10; grade 3 - 14; grade 4 - 19; grade5 - 14; grade 6 - 23; grade 7 - 17; grade 8 - 14; grade 9 - 16; and grade 10 - 9. The teachers were Mr. Philip Pejza, principal; Mr. Gumm; Misses Lees, Knoebel, and Roche assistants. Mr. Hayes, music, and Mr. Phillips, band. The girls of the upper grades have formed an athletic association with Miss Lees as advisor. Mrs. William (Margaret) Miller, librarian, announced that the library will soon open, and a new shipment of books is on the way.
Note: This 8th Grade graduating class was the first to have to go (be bussed) to other area high schools (mainly Menomonee Falls). The 9th and 10th grades were discontinued at most area elementary schools. The children then became "tuition students"; the municipality in which they lived had to pay the school district where they now went to 4-year high school a yearly fee.
Note: After the Hamilton School District was formed and the new high school built in 1962, Lannon reverted to grades 1-5, though there may have been a kindergarten class as well.
"My father was principal of the school from 1937 to 1942 and I attended first and second grades there with Miss Alice Knoebel as my teacher from the fall of 1940 to May or June 1942. Two corrections -- we spell our name Pejza, not Pejsa. My father also spelled his first name as Philip, not Phillip. My father taught 9th and 10th grades, as I recall in addition to being principal.
You have to remember that I was a very young student there sixty years ago, so my memory of events that long ago is somewhat faded. The school building was brand new when I was there. I do remember that there were several assemblies, one at Thanksgiving and one for Lincoln's birthday, probably for Christmas too. There was also a carnival of sorts -- my mother told fortunes in one booth. For a nickel or so, you could "see a night view of Lannon" -- they took you into a darkened classroom and pulled up a window shade. I remember that on November 11, probably both in 1940 and 1941, there was a minute of silence in all the classrooms to commemorate the armistice at the end of World War I. Classmates of mine were Allan Cawley (from a farm west of town) and Judy Walters, whose folks I believe ran the grocery store at the corner. The old school was still standing kitty-corner from their store but was unused.
In those days there was little job security for teachers -- employment was at the whim of the local school board. So about every five years my dad would look around and find a better job. He had come from Lublin, WI, up in Taylor County, where he had been principal of a 4-room school. So Lannon was a step up. At first we lived in a house on the outskirts of town. Then for about two years, we lived in Menominee Falls, before moving back to Lannon, about a block south of the school, next to a garage. He left Lannon after 5 years to take a job teaching math at Campion High School, a Catholic boarding school in Prairie du Chien, run by the Jesuits. He couldn't find a house in Prairie du Chien right away, so it was October 1942 before the rest of the family moved."
In at least 1987, there were too many kindergarten students for Lannon to handle, so some had to attend class at Maple Avenue School in Sussex, then go back to Lannon for 1st Grade in Sept. 1982 The students had Mrs. Jan Wunrow at Maple Ave.
12/7/93 - Lynelle Sandron hired as an emotional disabilities aide.
* 4/12/94 - Louise Champan interim principal at Lannon Elementary School after Sylvestor (Syl) Racinowski takes an extended leave of absence due to rheumatoid arthritis is named his official successor. Ms. Champan is a 19 year teacher veteran.
1995/1/20 - Bernice Plato died, age 71, former 1st grade teacher and reading specialist. Spent 34 years teaching, starting at Lannon Elementary in 1955. In 1968 became reading specialist serving Willow Spring, Lannon, and North Lisbon School (today's Lisbon Town Hall. Retired in 1989; resident of Menomonee Falls.
1995/2/12 - Helen Pantelis, 4th Grade teacher at Lannon, dies in a car accident; was in Hamilton School District for 25 years, since 1970. In 1980 she came to Lannon teaching 2nd, 4th, and 5th Grades. Helen taught in Milwaukee for 5 years before coming to Hamilton School District. She was born in 1940.