Period of Organization 1922-1938
This period has been designated as the period of organization, because in this period the entire work of Immanuel congregation was reorganized in much the same way as it functions today. In a measure this is also true of the Day School during this period. The early part of this period was very stormy for the Day School, and it seems to have reached its lowest ebb during the earlier part of this period. To some extent, the school was re-organized, and given a new lease on life as we shall see from the following description of the educational work.
At the beginning of this period the Rev. A.F. Winter was pastor of the congregation, but in the April 2, 1922 meeting of the congregation he was granted a release, and the Rev. A. Ackermann was called. He accepted the call, and was installed on June 25, 1922. He served as pastor during the whole of this period, and is still in active service.
The school staff at the beginning of this period included Mr. W.H. Seltz, principal and teacher of the upper grades; Mr. H.E. Ehlen, teacher of the intermediate grades and Mrs. Lena Seifert, teacher of the primary grades.
In the meeting on August 13, 1922, Mrs. Seifert was engaged to serve another year, and she consented to teach
for one more year. In the School Board meeting on June 4, 1923, both Mr. Seltz and Mr. Ehlen presented their resignations, and the board was informed that Mrs. Seifert would not consider teacher in the coming year. Mr. Seltz stated that his reason for resigning was that his wife was sick; therefore, he could not do justice to his work. Mr. Ehlen informed the board that he felt he lacked the necessary qualifications for teaching in Immanuel School, for that reason he wanted to resign. Mrs. Seifert had a sick mother who needed her care, for that reason she could no longer teach. In the congregational meeting on June 10, 1923 all three teachers were relieved of their responsibility in the school, and steps were taken to fill the vacancies.
In a special meeting of the congregation on June 24, 1923, the following candidates were considered as male teachers: Mr. Otto Hellermann, Mr. Kolander, Mr. Theo. Pelzl, and Mr. Landsmann. The congregation also had resolved to engage a woman teacher, and the candidates for this office were: Miss Frieda Gedicke, Miss Edna Fritz, and Miss Ada Sievert. Of these candidates Mr. Otto Hellermann and Miss Edna Fritz were elected. In another special congregational meeting on July 15, 1923, it was reported that Mr. Hellermann had declined the call, and Miss Fritz would accept if her congregation would grant a release. A new slate of candidates for a male teacher was considered. The following are the names which appeared on that list: Mr. Kolander, Mr. Fauble, Mr. Rolf, and Mr. Fred Meyer. Mr Kolander was elected. In a special congregation meeting on July 29, 1923, it was reported that both Mr. Kolander and Miss Fritz had declined their calls. In this meeting, Mr. Albert Stindt and Miss Seivert were extended calls. However, the congregation was not making much progress. On August 12, 1923, it was reported that Mr. Albert Stindt and Miss Seivert had declined their calls. In this meeting Mr. Otto Stindt and Miss D. Wilbrecht were called. In the meeting on September 2, 1923, the congregation was informed that Mr. Stindt had returned the call. Thus, the school faced a new school term without teachers. In some way, the congregation received information to the effect that Mr. Theo. Pelzl would teach the upper grades for one year. Similarily, Mr. C.H. Cutkosky was also chosen to teach the lower grades for one year, in the event that Miss Wilbrecht should decline her call. This occurred; therefore, the school staff for 1923-24 was Mr. Theo. Pelzl and Mr. C.H. Cutkosky. In the April 8, 1924 meeting of the School Board, the board recommended to the congregation that Theo. Pelzl's call be extended for one more year. This was ratified by the congregation in its meeting on April 13, 1924. In a meeting on June 8, 1924 the congregation was considering other candidates as male teachers. Those considered were: Mr. F.W. Friedrich of Glencoe, Minnesota and Mr. Kolander of Fulda, Minnesota. Mr. Friedrich received the call, but on July 27, 1924, the congregation was informed in a special meeting that he had declined the call. In this meeting, Mr. Kolander, Mr. Meyer, and Mr. Metz were considered, and Mr. Meyer was elected. In another special meeting on August 24, 1924, it was reported that Mr. Meyer had declined the call. Mr. Banke and Mr. Metz were considered, and Mr. Banke was elected. However, Mr. Banke declined the call, and at the meeting of the congregation on October 12, 1924, it was resolved to make no change in the school staff this year. However, after a while a change must have been made, for it is reported by Mr. Theo. Pelzl that his brother, Carl, taught with him in the second year 1924-25 in the place of Mr. Cutkosky.
On April 12, 1925, Mr. Theo. Pelzl was elected to teach the upper grades for another year, and the following women candidates were considered: Miss Messerli, Miss Wilbrecht, and Miss Gedicke, Miss Wilbrecht was elected. In the meeting of May 24, 1925, the congregation was informed that Mr. Pelzl would not consider retaining his position for another year, and Miss Wilbrecht had declined her call. In this meeting Mr. Otto Hellermann and Mr. Arthur Nitschke were considered as candidates for male teacher. Miss Frieda John and Miss Esther Montgomery were considered as women teachers for the lower grades. Miss Montgomery was called.
What happened to the minutes of the congregation for the next few months remains a mystery. In the Church Council meeting on July 10, 1925, it was reported that Mr. Pelzl was leaving, and in the School Board meeting on June 17, 1925, it was reported that Mr. Otto Hellermann and Miss Frieda John would begin their work as teachers of the upper and lower grades, respectively, on August 1st. Evidently, Miss Montgomery had declined her call, and Mr. Hellermann and Miss John had accepted. So far as official record is concerned, there is none.
In the congregational meeting on October 18, 1925, it was resolved to call a third teacher for the school. The School Board was empowered to take the necessary steps. In the School Board meeting on November 4, 1925, it was reported that Miss Gertrude Dye, a student of Dr. Martin Luther College, New Ulm, had begun her work as a teacher of grades four, five and six on November 2nd.
On March 2, 1926, the School Board was informed that Miss Frieda John would complete her work, with the end of that school year. In the congregational meeting on April 11, 1926, it was resolved to call Miss Esther Huehnerkoch as teacher for the lower grades in place of Miss John. It was also resolved to call an experienced teacher for the middle grades, preferable a woman, in place of Miss Dye. In the meeting of the congregation on May 2, 1926, the following candidates were considered for the lower grades: Mr. Edwin Born, Miss Dena Huso, and Miss Margaret Jahnke. Miss Huso was elected. In a meeting assembled on May 9th 1926, the congregation was informed that Miss Huehnerkock had returned her call and the pastor and the School Board were to engage a teacher for the lower classes. While it is not officially recorded, it is well established that they engaged Miss Gertrude Gieschen as teacher for the lower grades. Thus, the school faced the school year with a complete staff of teachers for the first time in several years.
On February 13, 1927, the congregation decided to call a teacher permanently for the intermediate grades. On February 27, 1927, the call was extended to Mr. Edwin Born, and Miss Gertrude Gieschen was reengaged for another year.
On June 29, 1927, the School Board was informed that Mr. Edwin Born had received a call. This was reported to the congregation, and the members granted him a release on July 10, 1927. In a meeting assembled on August 14, 1927 a call was extended to Miss Alma Darge as teacher of grades four, five and six to replace Mr. Edwin Born. This call was accepted.
On May 2, 1929, the School Board was informed that Miss Gertrude Geischen would not teach next year. The congregation met on May 19, 1929 and considered Miss Gertrude John, Miss Esther Buenger and Miss Gertrude Dye as candidates for her position. Miss Gertrude John was elected and accepted the call.
There was only one other change made on the staff during this period. In the meeting of the School Board on November 5, 1934, Miss Gertrude John presented her resignation as teacher of the primary grades to be effective on December 31, 1934. Her resignation was accepted. The School Board was authorized to fill the position which would soon be vacant. In its meeting on November 12, 1934, several candidates were considered, and Mr. Hellerman was instructed to gather more information on Miss Lacorda Schimmelpfennig. In the School Board meeting on November 19, 1934, she was engaged to serve the remainder of the school year. Miss Schimmelpfennig was reengaged in April and served until after the close of this period.
The enrollment of the school in this period of reorganization was as varied as was the teaching staff. It decreased sharply; then, gradually began to increase. On February 6, 1922, the school enrollment was 122 pupils. By March 5, 1923, it had decreased to 98 pupils, and by May 8th of the same year, it had decreased to 95. By the end of that school year, it had decreased to 90. On December 3, 1923, it was reported to the School Board that the enrollment of the school was 77 pupils, the lowest recorded enrollment. On December 1, 1924, the enrollment of the school was reported to be 83 pupils. By January 12, 1926 it was reported to the School Board that the enrollment was 104 pupils. In the meeting on May 5, 1927, the School Board was informed that the enrollment was 114 pupils. By February 11, 1929, it had dropped again to 102 pupils. A sharp decline in enrollment was experienced from March 23, 1931 to October 7, 1931. In March 1931, the school enrollment was reported as being 101 pupils, and in October of the same year it had decreased to 83 pupils. In the meeting of the School Board on November 9, 1933, the school report meeting showed an enrollment of 96 pupils. By the time of the School Board meeting on October 8, 1934, the enrollment had risen to 107. By September 4, 1935, the enrollment jumped to 114 pupils. In the April 1936 meeting of the Church Council, it was reported that the school enrollment had risen to 116. This figure represents a slight decrease in enrollment, but the trend is evident. These were rugged years for the church.
One change with respect to the curriculum is worthy of note in this period. In the School Board minutes of September 5, 1922, it was stated that all religious instruction should be largely in the English language, and in October 1922 the congregation adopted the following resolution: "Since children are more familiar with the American language, it was voted to give religious instructions in the parochial school principally in that language."
The degree of power which the congregation exerted in those days is evident by a resolution adopted February 13, 1923. In that meeting it was resolved to empower the School Board to spend $15.00 without the sanction of the congregation, instead of the customary $5.00.
During this period the question of starting a kindergarten in connection with the school was discussed. As early as September 1, 1925, the School Board decided to purchase kindergarten chairs and a sand box for the primary room, and in its meeting on October 5, 1925, it approved a bill of $2.50 for putting a tin bottom in the sand table. That the kindergarten was added at this time, is a matter of doubt. These things may have been used in the primary room for the lower classes, for in the School Board meeting on April 6, 1936, the board seriously considered the addition of a kindergarten, and the matter was referred to the Church Council. Neither the records of the Church Council,
nor the congregation show that any definite action was taken in 1936. The kindergarten was very likely begun in the fall of 1937, for in the October 1937 meeting of the congregation it was reported that a kindergarten had been added to the school at the beginning of that school year, and that students from Bethany College in Mankato were assisting with the work in the kindergarten as part of the practice teaching work. This announcement was repeated in the Church Council meeting in November. Mrs. O.C. Kexel, who was the primary teacherat this time, has verified the statement that the kindergarten was begun in the fall of 1937, and she has this to say about that work: "In the fall of 1937, quite a number of children of pre-first grade age, presented themselves for enrollment, and rather than repress them entirely, the kindergarten was born. For about four weeks the primary teacher struggled along alone with an overcrowded classroom. Then early in October, volunteers from Bethany College took over every morning after the devotional and religious period had been held with the other classes in the Primary room. From about 10 a.m. until noon, armed with a detailed daily schedule of work to be done and the method in which it was to be done, the practice teacher took her charges to a separate classroom upstairs. Enrollment fluctuated widely during this initial and very trying experimental year, but a class of nine finished the school year in 1937-38."
Several general improvements in the building and equipment of the school were made during this period such as painting, decorating and the like. However, one change was made which is worthy of note. In the Church Council meeting of February 11, 1938, it was decided to change a basement room into a workshop for the boys. Several are mentioned as having contributed tools for this purpose. In connection with this project, a sewing club was organized for the girls under the direction of Mrs. Wm. Keller, Mrs. Arthur Roe, and Mrs. Bramer. Of these projects Mrs. O.C. Kexel has said: "The workshop was entirely unsupervised, and the sewing club, due to outside help, had to be held after school, and both projects died out. But the basement room was a fine rainy day playroom when the respective teachers accompanied their pupils there with supervised play."
These two projects were of short duration, for they were not functioning in early 1940.
In the Church Council meeting on March 12, 1937, it was reported that the Minnesota State Fire Prevention Association had requested the congregation to place a fire escape on the school building. This matter was immediately referred to a committee, and the fire escape installed. In the December 9, 1938 meeting of the Church Council mention is made of several individuals and organizations which contributed to a purchase of a good deal of playground equipment for the school playground.
During this period it was customary for the Bethany Congregation to send some of its children to Immanuel School. Several of the minutes show repeated agreements between the School Board and the Bethany Congregation, but no real solution to the problem was ever fully accomplished. The beginnings of a cooperative school were in the making, but circumstances were such that those dreams could not be realized as shall be seen in the next period.
Various recurring announcements with reference to the school will be found in the minutes of this period. Almost regularly, it was reported that the District School Visitors of the Wisconsin Synod visited the school and endorsed the work being done. Reports of the school were given to
various groups such as the School Board, Church Council, and the congregation. Various schedules of book rent were established. In the March 3, 1933 School Board meeting, it was reported that all the school children had been examined by the county nurse on February 27th and 28th. The School Board was informed in its meeting on December 6, 1933, that the children of the school had taken part in an Armistice Program presented by the American Legion. Several donors and donations are also mentioned. Among these was a duplicator and $25.00 from Mr. R.F. Neubert, and an organ presented by Mr. Nick Harres, and a teacher's desk presented by Mr. Fred Gosewisch. Repeatedly it was mentioned that better order should be kept in the school, and mention was also made of the fact that the teachers should make calls on the families of the congregation and prospective families, especially those with children.
In the congregation meeting on October 21, 1928, reference is made to observing the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the school building. No action was taken, but the occasion was duly observed.
A change, with respect to the attendance of women teachers at the meetings of the School Board was also made during this period. It was customary for the women teachers to be present and take part in the discussions of the School Board, and several minutes gave evidence of their presence. However, in the School Board meeting on March 4, 1935, the opinion of the Board was that the women teachers need not attend, and from then on no reference is made concerning their presence at the meetings.
While the school was enjoying much attention in this period other agencies were lagging. In this period there is scarcely any reference of the wok of other agencies.
In the School Board meeting on April 5, 1927, the Sunday School was given permission to use the English hymnals from the church, and on November 8, 1927, the School Board resolved to heat the school so that it might be used by the Sunday School. This was presented to the congregation and a resolution was adopted by the congregation on December 11, 1927 in which permission was granted to use the school for the three upper classes of the Sunday School. In the School Board meeting May 20, 1931, it was reported the annual Sunday School picnic would be held on May 29, and the arrangements were left to the teachers. That is the only reference to the Sunday School in the School Board minutes.
In the Church Council minutes we find a reference to the Sunday School. On February 8, 1929, the Church Council resolved to purchase two dozen kindergarten chairs for the Sunday School. No other references are made to the Sunday School, with the exception of action on those things recommended by the School Board.
The congregational record makes some reference to the Sunday School. In the meeting on January 8, 1922, the congregation asked the superintendent and treasurer of the Sunday School to present a report for the year of 1921, and this was done in the congregational meeting on February 13, 1921. In the August 13, 1922 meeting, the congregation referred the matter of time of Sunday School session to the Sunday School staff. On September 2, 1923, the congregation was informed that Sunday School would begin on September 16, and Mr. Theo. Pelzl was appointed superintendent with power to appoint his own assistant. Some few Sunday School reports to the congregation are
mentioned, but this was very irregular. On January 8, 1928, the congregation was informed that the Sunday School enrollment was 185 pupils with 14 teachers on the staff.
It is a pity that the Sunday School records for this period have totally disappeared. There are rumors of a large Sunday School and staff during this period. Some names which have been mentioned as being active are: Mr. Arthur Hausberg, Mr. Ernest Silber, Miss Leona Barth and Miss Alma Prey. Some of the Day School teachers were superintendents and some of the teachers served on the Sunday School staff.
Day School and Sunday School
A custom concerning the children's program was changed during this period. In the Church Council meeting on December 10, 1937, it was reported that the children of the Day School would present their program at 7 p.m. on Christmas Day. This had been a custom of long standing; however, either on Christmas 1938 or 1939 a change was made, and the children of both agencies presented a combined program on Christmas Eve. There is no reference to this matter in the official records, but that is the custom at present.
A reference to a combination of Day School and Sunday School pupils for presenting an Easter program is referred to in the Church Council minutes on January 9, 1925. This program was to be under the direction of Mr. Theo. Pelzl. This would seem important, for it is the only time in this period that reference is made to bringing both groups together in a common purpose.
Released Time Plan
In the School Board minutes for September 1, 1925, some reference is made to children who might attend a release time school for religious instruction. It was decided to leave this matter to the next meeting, and no further reference is made to it.
In 1931 there is some reference to a released time class which met on Thursday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lutheran School. On November 6, 1931 the Church Council allowed a bill for dismissal blanks for pupils receiving instruction in the Thursday school. It may well have been begun in the fall of 1930. On October 7, 1932, it was reported to the Church Council discussed this plan again on December 9, 1933, and a motion was made not to transport children from the Roosevelt School in West Mankato for released time religious instruction. From then on no mention is made of a Released Time school in this period. Several conditions may have contributed to this. It may have been a lack of interest on the part of the congregation; it may have been the result of over-enthusiasm on the part of the supporters of the Day School, for one institution to detriment of all others; or it may have been a lack of interest in other agencies on the part of some of the teachers in the Day School, and it may have been an overworked staff. This seems true in the case of the pastor. Just at the beginning of this period a Professor Monich who had assisted in the communion services, left Mankato, and it was not until February of 1937 that the pastor had additional help.
In February of 1937, Candidate Manfred Lenz was engaged as an assistant to the pastor. With this assistance the period of new horizons begins.