As a student in higher education, Dorothy Inghram always strove for the best education within her means. Later, as a teacher and administrator, she sought the same for her students. When she began her career in 1941 as the first black school teacher in the San Bernardino area, the parents of children in the all-black school where she started were quite satisfied with the existing teachers. But Dorothy found that things were not as good as they appeared. The children were being given one-hour recesses, many were assigned to janitorial duties and in other ways kept out of the classroom. Being on the inside had given Dorothy quite a different perspective from that of the parents. How she changed this state of affairs is told in her own words in the story that follows.
Dorothy was the youngest of seven children born to Henry D. and Mary E. Inghram. Her father was born in Columbia, Kentucky, on May 14, 1860, and her mother in Atchison, Kansas, on January, 30, 1861. They met and married here in San Bernardino in the 1880s. Dorothy's mother passed away on May 4, 1939, and her father followed five years later, on June 20, 1944. Her brother, Carl, and sister, Myrtle, died before Dorothy was born, and her only other sister, Ruth R. Knox, a registered nurse, died suddenly on March 4, 1953. Dorothy had three older brothers: Henry (deceased), formerly a printer with the Sun Company; Ben, a retired chef, was formally with the Chocolate Palace; and Howard, a physician, still resides in San Bernardino. Howard is semi-retired, but still practices part-time with the San Bernardino County Health Department.
Howard, Dorothy and Ben Inghram in 1974
Dorothy's story is significant, since she opened the way locally for overcoming racial barriers in the teaching profession, and her narrative does mention a few specific instances of prejudice that she faced in her teaching career. She tends to understate the unpleasantries, however, and instead emphasizes the positive aspects of her accomplishments. This is as it should be because Dorothy has been recognized, frequently, as one of the outstanding teachers of this area. Her innovative programs and overall approach to teaching have drawn praise from many quarters.
Among the many honors she received, having a public library named for her is an unusual recognition for a non-librarian. Numerous societies have bestowed awards upon her, including the following: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (1965, 1968); NAACP (1966); San Bernardino Teachers Association (1966); San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors (1966); National Council of Negro Women (1970); Delta Kappa Gamma (1970); San Orco District Business and Professional Women (1974-75); San Bernardino Public Library (1974); Santa Fe Federal Savings and Loan (1976); Dorothy Inghram Public Library (community recognition, 1977); and the Inland Area Urban League Pacesetters (1978).
Her published writings include:
In the early part of this century, very few Negro families lived in San Bernardino. Fewer than a dozen Negro children were enrolled in the elementary schools of the city in 1911. By 1920, according to the official United States Census Bureau, there were only 269 Negro men, women and children in San Bernardino County.
My father had been a schoolteacher in Kentucky and my mother had a special appreciation for music. Both of them had high ambitions for their children.
I was born in the early part of the 1900s in San Bernardino, California, where I attended elementary, junior, and senior high schools, and graduated from high school in 1923.
Dorothy Inghram - San Bernardino High School graduate, 1923
It was impossible for me to attend college immediately after graduating for two reasons: first, there were no colleges or universities in the immediate area; and second, my brother Howard was in medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago, and there was not enough money available for two of us to be in college at the same time. Our family's main goal was to help him complete his medical training, so we all worked toward that end.
To help the family, I taught private piano lessons on Saturdays in Redlands and Riverside and after school hours in San Bernardino. In addition to my teaching, Mother, sister Ruth, and l helped my father by doing such little extra jobs as cleaning the dining room and washing dishes at a men's club at the corner of Sixth and "F" Streets. This money was especially helpful whenever my brother had an immediate need. While he also worked, there were times when his expenses were greater than he could handle.
In 1928, five years after graduating from high school and one year after the opening of San Bernardino Valley College, I decided to take a few classes there. I had always loved music. At the age of five years, I played by ear many of the tunes I heard my brothers and their friends play in their small orchestra. Seeing how much I loved music, my mother decided I might as well learn the "right" way --- reading notes. Mother wanted to pay my sister-in-law, Viola, for giving me piano lessons, but when she refused money, the two reached an agreement that the lessons would be paid for by my helping do her housework. This work turned out to be washing sinks of dirty dishes and tubs of diapers. To me, the arrangement was a rather unpleasant one, but since no one consulted me, the arrangement stood as made.
My first classes at Valley College included work in music, which I thoroughly enjoyed. In 1930-31, I took a class in typing, which was very important to me. I had always enjoyed typing in high school, and the opportunity to strengthen my skill prepared me for a job as "typist-reader" for the class. I received 40 cents an hour for my work. I had no idea, at the time, what a "typist-reader" did, but when offered the job by the instructor, I was thrilled to get it. To my embarrassment, though, I soon learned the details of the job. I was to correct or check my classmates' typing papers for errors and disallowed erasures. Even more embarrassing was the fact that they often borrowed my eraser to make the disallowed corrections! They never knew I was the "reader" for the class.
In the fall of 1932, I enrolled at Valley College as a full-time student. I had already taken courses in music notation, sight-singing, history appreciation, and harmony, so I added piano. It was in 1933-34, while studying harmony that the instructor gave an assignment requiring us to write a short melody appropriate for a college hymn. Immediately, I came face to face with the realism that my musical background, in comparison to that of the other students, was extremely inadequate. I was not even sure what a college hymn should sound like. I cannot recall, now, how many times I tore up and threw away what I had written! Finally, I decided, "this is the best I can do." The next morning I hoped the instructor would never get to what I had written. But, one by one, he played them all. When he had finished, he sent one student to get Dr. Tempe Allison, Dean of Women. When she arrived he said, "Dr. Allison, I would like you to listen to these compositions and tell us which one you think would make a good college hymn." Dr. Allison listened carefully to each piece and finally said, "I like this one". "I agree," said my instructor.
We sat smiling at one another, wondering which they had agreed upon. I was not too concerned. Knowing how beautiful the others' were, I would have selected any one of theirs. But then came the shock. "Dorothy," he said, "we have selected yours. It is simple and beautiful."
I could not believe it. How could they possibly pass up all the other beautiful compositions? But they had. Now, some 40-odd years later, they tell me the music is still being used by the college. I am proud I was able to make this contribution to such a fine institution.
Selection of my composition by Dr. Allison was only one of the many things she did for me while I was at Valley College. Once, for example, she gave me a job in the school cafeteria. I cannot recall how long I worked there, but it must not have been very long. Soon afterwards I received another call from her office. This time she said, "Dorothy, would you like to go to the University of Redlands?" I was completely lost for words. I had never thought of going to the university. I was really just passing time until my brother could finish his schooling. In the space of a few seconds, a multitude of questions must have flashed through my mind. But as Dr. Allison waited, l quickly made my decision. "l would love to go," I said. "Good!" she replied with a tone of finality. "I have a scholarship for you for one year. If you do well it will be extended."
I must have thanked her a hundred times. "I am going to the university! How wonderful!" I could hardly wait to get home and tell my family the good news. I was so excited I had not stopped to wonder whether or not the old car l was driving would even run that far. I did not even know just where the university was. Of course it was in Redlands, but where exactly? I knew I would find it!
In the spring of 1934, I entered the university, and graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1936. Those were wonderfully interesting and challenging years. There were situations in which the experiences were far from being what I hoped or even expected them to be; fortunately, though, the enjoyable far outweighed the not-so-enjoyable.
The relationship among the students and faculty in the Music Department was as nearly perfect as anyone could ask. We enjoyed sharing our musical experiences. The classes were small, which was a great advantage. Our relations with our instructors were close and individual. Those of us who were piano majors helped one another with our voice exercises; none of us could sing, but, as elementary teacher music majors, we were required to take voice. Those who could afford it also took lessons on the beautiful chapel organ. How I loved the tones that came from that deep-throated instrument! I sat through the chapel services, week after week, dreaming of what it must be like to play that wonderful organ.
I enjoyed my University work. I studied until late at night and often into the early morning. My parents understood about my odd hours and the early morning practicing. They knew how important it was for me to continue at the university. Along with required advanced courses in harmony, ear training and sightsinging, I took classes in form and analysis, counterpoint and fugue, orchestration and conducting.
By the end of my first year my grades had placed me in the honor group. Naturally, I was pleased. But had I known then what I learned later, I would have preferred not being in the group. A fellow student, who had been exceptionally kind and helpful to me, informed me that the instructor in charge of honor group meetings had discontinued those meetings rather than include me. I was hurt by his actions. But what hurt more than the discontinuance of the meetings was my loss of respect for one whom I had considered a truly Christian man serving in a strong Christian college. However, the hurt did not last long --- I had been hurt before and forgetting this one was not too difficult.
Immediately after receiving my degree at the University of Redlands, I corresponded with several Negro colleges in the South hoping to obtain a teaching position. I wrote to at least 20 colleges listed in a catalog I found in the university library. Every one I wrote to returned with the same reply, "No openings." But about three and one-half months after I had written to Prairie View College in Texas, a telegram came offering me a position.
Dorothy Inghram at the beginning of her teaching career
Accepting, I spent three very interesting and informative years at the college, learning along the way what it was like to be a Negro living near a small community in the South. In the years 1936-39, the South was typical of what l had heard about it. It was prejudiced, insulting and demeaning toward all Negroes. I am told now that the South has changed; it is an entirely different place. I hope this is true. Upon returning home, unfortunately, I was disappointed to find that Southern attitudes had moved West, but with one major difference: whereas the South was open and deliberate with its racial prejudices, the West was subtle and secretive.
It was during the middle of my third year at Prairie View College that I received word from home of my mother's serious illness. My colleagues tried to persuade me to stay on the job until school closed in May, but I knew the message meant, "Come home immediately." My mother died within a few months after I returned. Her passing was the beginning of a new phase of my life. My father was, by this time, 79 years old and totally lost without my mother. As a result of having to reestablish my life at home, I returned to the university and completed the work which I needed to receive my elementary and junior high school teaching credentials. In the spring of 1941, just prior to completing the work for these credentials, I came face to face with a form bigotry I had not anticipated.
I went in for a conference with the head of the Education Department to discuss my future plans as a teacher. His remark to me was, "Why have you bothered to spend so much time preparing for a teaching job since there will be none available?" I did not answer him. He did not know that at the very time he was trying to discourage me, the County Superintendent of Schools Office was laying the foundation for what would be my very first job. In June, 1941, my work at the university was completed and I was ready to accept a teaching job. I would be the first Negro teacher to receive such a position in San Bernardino County. One other Negro woman had applied earlier, but was not employed. Later, she was hired by the Los Angeles City School District and eventually became an excellent principal in that system. To keep the record straight, it should be mentioned that many years earlier, a Miss [Alice] Rowan, who later married Frank Johnson, the first pastor of our church, was the first Negro teacher in the Riverside area.
While I was ready and prepared for the teaching position that was available in San Bernardino County, there were certain roadblocks that stood in the way. I knew I would be going to a totally segregated school, but that did not bother me. I wanted to teach. Mill School, at the corner of Waterman Avenue and Central, was located in an area that was becoming highly populated by Negro families who had moved out of Los Angeles and surrounding cities, looking for opportunities to farm. The area became known as Valley Farms. While some families actually engaged in small farming, it seemed others came to the area to escape the hustle and bustle of the large city. The majority of those who came were people with strong Christian backgrounds and close family ties. Some were young married couples with families, others were middle aged, and a few were senior citizens.
From these very fine stalwart families have come children who have succeeded in the secretverdana world, postal services, social work, the teaching profession, and the legal, ministerial and judicial professions. Wherever they have gone, the majority of them have represented their families and their community well. As the years passed, though, changes have taken place in the community. While some have been changes for the better, others have not. Even now signs of deterioration can be seen throughout the community. The one bright spot is the Mill School Center, which serves the immediate and surrounding areas with day-care activities, recreational programs and other community services.
It was with the children of some of the original families in the Mill Community that I received my first teaching experience.
Mill School in the 1940s
When I started in 1941, the building was an old, two-room structure closely resembling a one-family house, with floors that were rough and well-worn and furniture that was badly scarred from use. It was a two-teacher school --- one taught grades one through three, and also served as the principal; the other taught grades four through six. There was no doubt that the two women who were in the school when I began were good academic instructors and well prepared to teach the children the basic subjects required by law. I was told the trustees and families of the district were so pleased with the teachers' work that they could stay as long as they pleased. This gave them the kind of freedom and security anyone would want in a job.
My arrival as the first Negro teacher in the school, though, was a disturbing factor to them. Being a member of the staff and observing the school's activities from within, I gained a different perspective of its operations than one would from the outside world. From the first day, my presence appeared to cause the two teachers some concern and unhappiness. They spoke to me only on occasions when speaking could not be avoided. As a new teacher, they offered me little or no information or assistance. In fact, days passed without my receiving more than a brief, "Good morning," from them. When I inquired about recesses that lasted from one to two hours instead of the legal 20 minutes, I was told, "These children need the sunshine and the fresh air." When I asked about the older girls climbing ladders and cleaning windows instead of doing their class work, I was told, "The custodian is old and the girls want to help him." It did not take long for me to realize that they preferred not having me ask questions.
When I used some of the newer teaching techniques I had learned from the university's Demonstration School, the teacher who was principal suggested that the parents would not want their children taught in a way that would be different from the method already being used. Being a Negro myself, and since all the children were Negroes, I felt I knew what the parents would want. They would want the best for their children, regardless of who the teacher was. But who was I anyway, a new, inexperienced teacher, to question the older teacher's belief as to what the parents would want.
Before long I realized what I had to do; stop asking questions; stop discussing what I was doing in my classroom; teach the children what I had learned; give them as much love, attention and instruction as I possibly could; and then wait for the results; I did this. The results were excellent. The children were not only enthusiastic about their work, but also succeeded beautifully with it. I became confident I was doing the right thing. I proved to the teachers, the parents, and myself that I was capable and qualified to teach any children, whether they were in Mill School or any other.
Mill School grades three through five, 1944
With the change of a School Board member and the employment of a second Negro teacher, the principal and her friend resigned. Their leaving caused a new problem: the school not only needed another teacher, it needed a principal. Since Mill was a small county school, under the supervision of the County Superintendent of Schools Office, the board consulted the Superintendent's Office about appointing a new principal. Mrs. Kathryn Murray, supervisor for Mill School, was sent to talk with the board and make the Superintendent's recommendation. She recommended I be appointed to the position. But the board refused her recommendation, saying I was not qualified for the position. Mrs. Murray assured them I was and offered whatever information they might desire to verify my qualifications. They still refused, saying they preferred finding their own principal. Within a short time they had found a person --- the daughter of the Caucasian member of the board, which was composed of one Caucasian and two Negroes. She assumed the principalship, together with the teaching of grades five and six. Before long the dual responsibilities became more than she could cope with and at the end of the first year, she resigned. That was in 1944. The following year the board accepted the Superintendent's recommendation and I was appointed Teaching Principal.
With this change and the increase in enrollment, a number of teachers began applying for positions at Mill. As enrollments increased everywhere, county schools --- in particular --- were accepting emergency credentialed teachers. Mrs. Murray and I interviewed several teachers individually, and when we agreed that they would probably work well at Mill, we recommended their employment. Most of those employed proved to be very dedicated teachers, they rendered outstanding service, showing their sincere love for children and bringing a different kind of feeling than had been expressed in earlier years.
It was while enrollment was still on the increase that new parents came into the district inquiring about kindergarten classes for their children. Mill School had never had a kindergarten. Beulah Paul, general curriculum supervisor for the Superintendent's Office, asked that I take the job because of my musical background. So, in the summer of 1949, I once again attended classes at the university and learned more about the procedures used with kindergarten children. Meanwhile the district purchased a small, one-room building and had it moved onto the school grounds to house the class.
Kindergarten building, Old Mill School, 1949
The days that followed were busy but enjoyable ones. The mornings were filled with fun with the young children, and the afternoons with challenging work with teachers and children of the other grades. The days at school were often long and tiring, but also stimulating and challenging. We loved our work. Working hours sometimes lasted from 7:30 in the morning until 6:00 or 6:30 in the evening. On special occasions, when PTA meetings were held, the days extended until 10:30 or 11:00 at night. This never bothered us. What were important were the wonderful relationships that were growing among parents, teachers and children, many of which still exist.
In 1950, perhaps the most far-reaching decision in the history of the school district was made. The trustee board refused to continue the policy of allowing Caucasian and Hispanic children living in Mill District to attend Burbank School. For years the San Bernardino City School District had provided buses for these children; therefore, Mill School was comprised only of Negro children. Mill children faced --- daily --- the derogatory remarks from children riding past the school. As the last member of the board who favored the policy resigned, a new, more liberal member took his place. A different kind of relationship was then established with the San Bernardino City School District, and the principals of Burbank School cooperated fully. They made certain that all Mill District children attempting to enroll in their school were sent to Mill.
The first year of the integration at Mill School was harder for the parents than for the children. Many parents refused to enroll their children. But once they realized they would have to either enroll them or move out of the district, they began having second thoughts. One or two parents attempted to give false addresses, but soon found that would not work. Others kept their children at home, hoping to find some way around the board's ruling. That did not work either. With their homes already established in the community, moving was just about impossible. So finally, but reluctantly, they brought their children to school. One parent sat all day and observed in the classroom. When he was convinced his son's education would continue as it had previously, he enrolled him. Eventually, one by one, parents brought their children to school. Meanwhile, few, if any, changes were taking place within the classes at Mill. Instructors continued doing the same excellent teaching they had always done and the children were responding favorably to the challenging and interesting work being given them. In time, feelings of friendship grew among the children, and before long it was forgotten that any other situation had ever existed.
I was already teaching a session of kindergarten when the new children --- Caucasian and Hispanic --- enrolled in Mill School. Only one Caucasian child entered kindergarten at that time. My experience with her was quite interesting. Each morning when her mother drove her to the school gate, she let her out of the family car and quickly drove away. Not once did she come in with her little girl or speak to me as I put her in the car after class. I do recall, though, the child's behavior once she was in the classroom. At first, she was shy about coming in and, for a second or two, hesitated at the door. But when another child in the room went to her and said, "Would you like to play with our toys?" she smiled, briefly, and slowly followed her to the doll house where several other children were already at play. She accepted the offered toy and by the end of the day, when it was time to go home, she came with the other children and as they threw their arms around my neck and said, "Goodbye, Miss Inghram," she took her turn and said, "Goodbye, teacher," That was the beginning of many happy days in kindergarten for her. She finished that year at Mill, but we never knew what happened to her the following year. Since she did not return in the fall, we assumed the family had moved away.
Even though teachers were busy with their classroom activities, because of their high professional attitudes, they attended workshops after school and on weekends at the County Schools' Demonstration School (Mission School). I too attended classes after work at the University of Redlands, so that I might improve my understanding of better ways to serve the school as an administrator. At the close of the 1950-51 school year, I was appointed the district's first full-time administrator. At the close of the 1952-53 school year, I became its district superintendent.
It was during the 1949-50 school year that plans were begun for building a new school at another location on Central. The actual completion of the building and moving of teachers and children into the new facilities did not materialize until the fall of 1951.
Some of the visitors at the opening of the new Mill School, 1951
The day of the dedication and opening of the eight beautiful classrooms, kindergarten and administrative building was one of the proudest in the history of the Mill School District. Representatives from the State Department of Education, County Superintendent's Office, churches, community organizations, and parents, children, teachers, and administrators all gathered to participate in this fine achievement. The people of the community received the school facilities as a place of pride and beauty. They saw it as a place where their children and grandchildren would be attending and achieving for years to come. But because of a number of factors no one had anticipated, that was not to be --- at least, not as long as they had hoped.
Not long after the school was established in its new location, a number of meetings were held with school officials, board members and Norton Air Force Base personnel to discuss the possibility of changing the flight pattern of planes that flew over the school grounds daily. While the board and parents were concerned with the possibility of planes falling, they were equally concerned with the noise factor. So intense was the noise that teachers and children had to wait until the planes had passed before they could continue with their work. Unable to reach a solution to the problem, the school continued to operate under these disrupting conditions.
It was not until some years after unification with the San Bernardino City Unified School District, in 1968, that a decision was made to close the school and thereby remove the children from the danger and noise of the planes. As far as the parents were concerned, moving the children out of the school did not solve the problem. Since their homes were in the immediate flight path of the planes, the majority of the families still lived with the danger and the noise. Parents were also unhappy that their children were being moved to schools outside their own community. To many of them, next to their church life, the school was the one institution that melded together so beautifully their church, school and social life. But when the State Department of Education began informing school officials that it believed small, independent school districts were becoming an added expense to the state and unification with larger districts was the solution to these financial problems, the San Bernardino City Unified School District decided that moving the children out of the school would not only solve this financial problem, but would also take care of the flight-path danger. Despite the fact the majority of the people affected by this move disagreed, the board's decision was made and the school was closed.
It appeared ironic that not too many years after the school was closed, the buildings and grounds reopened with a day-care center and a parks and recreation program to serve children from preschool age through high school, and adults. What about the safety and noise factors that had caused the school to close? They were still there. Was the move logical, wise, or justified? In the minds of some, yes, but in the minds of most of the Mill School District, the answer will always be no. The traumatic experiences of some of their children as a result of being sent to areas where it was openly demonstrated that they were not welcome, should never have occurred.
An important question was asked by some during those days when children were being moved from Mill School: "What will happen to the children and teachers from Mill?" The children went to different city schools throughout the eastern and northern sections of the city. The teachers went to schools throughout the entire system. How were the students and teachers received? The teachers were well received. They were well trained, professional people, working satisfactorily in any school, so there was no problem for them. With the children though, it was quite different. Their reception varied according to the schools to which they were assigned. In certain schools, some teachers and students were far from being receptive. They treated the Mill children as intruders. They asked them, "Why are you here in OUR school?" The attitudes and actions of some teachers showed they resented these children being there, too. For example, we were told certain teachers made the Mill children sit together in their classes. They ignored the fact that the children were there not because they wanted to be, but because they had been sent. Some teachers ignored the fact that Mill children were not playing with the other children on the grounds, as they should, but were playing alone or in their own separate groups. When questioned about this, the comment was, "They want to play by themselves." Perhaps this was true. Perhaps, too, they sensed the feeling of others and felt more secure in sticking together. Whose responsibility was it to see that the children were brought into, and made to feel a part of, the larger group? The answer was obvious.
While these situations were occurring at one or two schools, they were not in others. In those schools where the teachers and administrators had properly prepared the resident children to receive students from Mill School, the programs ran smoothly. Their reception was as natural and normal as it would have been for any new children coming into the school for the first time. Problems, or lack of problems, continued throughout the schools according to the way in which the situations were handled.
On the other hand, it would be unfair to imply that all of the problems were due to receiving schools' attitudes. Some children from Mill had previously had problems, and they continued having them in their new schools. We know that changing environments does not necessarily cause problems to disappear, especially if the problems are deep seated. This was true with a few of the children from Mill, whose problems were magnified and intensified as they carried their frustrations into the new environments.
When Mill School closed, I was asked to decide between accepting the principalship of a school or becoming liaison principal in the newly established Office of Intergroup Relations. The second position sounded challenging, although no one knew exactly what I would be doing. Since liaison means, "a binding together," or, as Webster's Dictionary describes it, "a linking up or connecting of the parts of a whole," I took it for granted that would be what the district wanted me to do. So, despite the position's sketchy description, I accepted it.
Mr. Joe Aguilar --- a resident of Riverside, community worker, and member of the Riverside City College Board of Trustees --- was named director of the new department in 1967. While Joe was a newcomer to the district, I was not. I had been with the district since 1963, was a member of the district's Principals' Association and therefore knew most of the administrators. With Mill School's closing and the children from there being sent to schools throughout the district, I was in close contact with most of the administrators. Occasionally they called on me for consultation regarding those children who tended to have problems; thus as time passed and their confidence grew in my ability to be of assistance to them, my position in the Relations Office became more firmly established.
While Mr. Aguilar's professional training and experience were quite different from mine, we enjoyed working together. We respected each other's position and found a real challenge in sharing our work. Planning our work was easy since there were only the two of us in the office. We looked forward to building a department that would be both useful and effective. Unfortunately, our plans did not materialize because district personnel problems caused Mr. Aguilar not to be employed for the following year.
Meanwhile, my position as liaison principal expanded, and many fine opportunities arose permitting me to work more closely with administrators and teachers. Workshops in intergroup relations were planned. Under my guidance, teachers formed special discussion groups in which they helped other teachers work with specific types of individual or group problems. At the request of some administrators, I held individual and small group conferences with children in their schools. I used various techniques to help these children look at their individual problems, but perhaps the most effective were role-playing situations. This gave them opportunities to see their own problems and analyze them both from their point of view and from those of the other children. I was not able to help solve all their problems, but being there with them when they needed someone to listen and be sympathetic to their needs did help establish a strong rapport among children, teachers and administrators.
Two new areas of my work progressed exceptionally well. One was the establishment of an intergroup relations audio-visual section in which current pictures, tapes, biographical sketches and other reading materials on minorities were included. These were made available to teachers for classroom use. While many schools were developing their own files, as well as using the district's Audio Visual Department materials, they also requested ours on a regular basis. A second phase of my work involved working with Teacher Aides. The school district employed these aides, known as paraprofessionals in some districts, to assist teachers in the classroom. Many of the aides were not familiar with classroom work and therefore needed professional guidance to help them adjust to the techniques and procedures used by the teachers. Many workshops were held under the direction of their supervisor, Mrs. Janet Paule, and I was fortunate to be asked to serve as a resource person at a number of them. As a resource person, I shared with them much from my years of experience both as a teacher and an administrator. A survey that I did with children, teachers, and administrators since my retirement showed positive results from our working together.
Dorothy Inghram at the time of her retirement, 1970
As I think back over the time I spent working with children and adults, the years from 1944 to 1963 have left the deepest impression on my mind. Those were years when I had the opportunity of meeting and associating with so many educators, religious leaders, community workers, parents, children and teachers. Mill School teachers and I were privileged, through the cooperation of the County Schools Office, to come in contact with many excellent educators in Riverside and Los Angeles Counties and the State Department of Education. We observed many of them at work and learned to put many of their techniques and procedures into practice in our classrooms. In the '50s, I was honored to work with Afton Nance, curriculum consultant for the State Department of Education, and her teachers in the desert area. We traveled to those desert schools and shared our knowledge of teaching the Social Studies with them. I also enjoyed the opportunity of attending classes in supervision directed by Helen Heffernan --- one of the nation's outstanding educators at the University of California. Helen Heffernan served as assistant chief in the Division of Elementary Education for the State Department of Education, and authored several books on working with children in the elementary grades.
There were others who greatly influenced my life, and one in particular was Doris Sischo. For many years, Doris served as assistant superintendent of San Bernardino County Schools and acting superintendent when the superintendent was on military duty. Her dedication to education and her sincere love for ALL people cannot be measured. Much can now be told of the service she gave to Mill School. Doris was responsible for helping maintain the high standard of education at Mill School. Year in and year out she worked with the Mill School board, especially at budget time, to see that the salaries of teachers and administrators were held at a level equal to that of all other county schools within its size range. She saw to it that only the best quality of materials and supplies were purchased for the school. She was THE VOICE whenever Mill needed a friend to speak in its behalf. Whatever she did was done without praise or fanfare. The school board and I knew this and appreciated it.
Kathryn Murray was another who shared so much of her time and service with us. She was a woman totally devoted to her work and the welfare of others. Prior to becoming Supervising Consultant for Mill School, she championed the cause of Mexican-American youths. I am told that whenever possible, she provided food, clothing, financial and spiritual assistance so those who had set goals for themselves might achieve them. My association with Kathryn Murray goes back to the beginning of my employment at Mill School. She encouraged me to continue working for my Master's Degree when the pressures of my job were making me question the advisability of continuing my work (I obtained the degree). It was her counseling, following the sudden death of my sister Ruth that helped me look more positively at life when the loss of my loved one had been such a shocking experience for me.
Another younger woman, Maxine Smith, followed Kathryn as supervising consultant. Maxine was also a dedicated worker who served Mill School well.
Recently I received a copy of the Historian's Record of the Mill School P.T.A., which showed the kind of dedicated service that organization had given throughout the years. I was so impressed with that record that I am sharing it with my readers at this time.
The Mill School District was formed in 1867. The P.T.A. was organized fifty-one years later on April 19, 1918, by Mrs. S. U. Steward. There were twenty-one charter members. Mrs. Frank Ferre was elected president. The school had one teacher, Miss Genevieve Sullivan, who taught all grades. In 1932 Mrs. Sullivan Earle became the school's principal and served for thirty years.
Mill School had a very active P.T.A. beginning in 1918 and lasting throughout most of the school's years. In 1918 when World War I needed workers, the P.T.A. members were active with relief work. In 1919-20 the P.T.A. was working on such worthwhile projects as getting Central Street between Arrowhead Avenue and Waterman Avenue opened so that the children would have a direct road to school from Arrowhead Avenue. It was during the 1920-21 school year that the P.T.A. made and served hot soup, on rainy days, so that the children would have something hot to go with their sandwiches brought from home. This project later developed into an active hot lunch program. In 1922-23 further improvements of the streets were sponsored by the P.T.A. so that the children could attend school during the rainy season.
In 1923-24, a committee was appointed by the P.T.A. to investigate the cost of installing electric lights in the school so that the P.T.A. might hold evening meetings. During the same year, Mrs. Raub and Mrs. Sullivan volunteered to contribute twenty (20) glasses of orange marmalade to the City Federation exhibit at the Orange Show. Mrs. Raub and Mrs. Kenton filled fifteen (15) glasses with marmalade the following year for the same purpose.
In 1924-25 plans for the P.T.A. meetings had to be given up because of an epidemic of "hoof and mouth disease."
In 1930-31 the P.T.A. prepared Christmas boxes of candy and fruit for the children. In 1933-34, a Thanksgiving benefit was held in order to prepare Thanksgiving baskets for needy families. In 1948-49 a Spanish Dinner was given and the first Halloween Carnival was held as a money-making project. From this project five boxes of clothing were given to needy families and the P.T.A. Clothes Closet was established.
In 1952 the first summer playground activities were conducted under the direction of Mr. Booker Coffee. In 1953 Bobby Saterfield supervised a vacation library and Mrs. John Leinen supervised a county branch summer library for children.
Other important activities participated in by the mothers of the community were the Well Baby Clinic and the Kindergarten Round-up. The mothers made aprons and blankets for the kindergarten and established a kindergarten Milk Fund. Under the direction of Mrs. Audrey Williams, one of the teachers, a P.T.A. Mother Singers group was formed to furnish music at the P.T.A. meetings.
During the 1953-54 school year, the P.T.A presented its first Honorary Life Membership to Miss Dorothy Inghram, Principal of Mill School. They also donated cookies to Verdemont Ranch, glasses for one or more needy children and published the first edition of the newsletter, "The Leaf," with Mrs. Arlet Green as editor.
In 1957-58, Mill School P.T.A celebrated the school's ninetieth (90) birthday, when forty-five (45) pupils completed the sixth grade. At that time the P.T.A, had one hundred and twenty-eight members.
Who knows how far reaching this story is? Pupils taught with love and appreciation tend to develop positive self-concepts and therefore go out into the world prepared to add to the stability of the world in which they live.
Surprising as it may seem, graduates of Mill School --- a small, one-school district --- have settled throughout the nation. If a poll were taken, few would have missed the mark of being excellent citizens.
"As the twig is bent, so the tree grows." Among Mill School graduates can be found individuals outstanding in practically every profession known in America.
This is my story in retrospect. Because of those who passed my way and willingly shared so much with me, my life has been enriched.