My grandfather, G.M.C. Massey, tells of becoming a teacher in rural East Texas at the beginning of the 20th century.
For when I began teaching in the Year of 1900, I had to start on a second Grade certificate, and I had to go to school between the winter terms so that I might be able to raise my certificate from the second grade to the First grade; When my Second grade wore out, And it happened in about Three years from the time that I married; And at that time I left off trying to farm between terms: So I made arrangements to go to school at Mt. Pisgah for eight weeks to Prof. Idas Woods; And at the end of five weeks; I stood examination for the Second grade certificate, I went on to GILMER, Texas to a summer Normal that was going to be under the same supervision that the Spring normal was (Prof. Idas Woods); And it lasted for five weeks, and closed with the state examination for the First grade Certificate; And I made that with flying Colors; And I had gone ahead and contracted for a better school with the understanding that I had to produce a 1st grade certificate for It to be effective: I sometimes think that If we stick our necks out more than we do, It might account for more than it does for us to be afraid that we will get into trouble over believing more in ourselves; But we may wind up sometimes that we were overconfident; But we know that we have to believe that we can do a thing if we are to succeed.
NOW back to my experience as a teacher in the public schools of Texas: When I was in a one Teacher school I had several classes, as We always had as many as seven grades, and sometimes as many as eight grades. Of course in those days we had no such thing as a graded school in the country schools, And for a long time after we started to grade the schools we had nothing but the READERS, and then the HISTORIES to grade by as far as they went.
But when the system was better perfected, and as time passed, and I taught in the high school I had fewer Grades and fewer classes and at times with the Superintendent’s job in school I really was relieved of some class work; For I was expected to visit the other schools that was in the city, and I did that on my time for that particular day: And in one place as Superintendent of the city schools, I only had two or at times three classes during the run of a day, As my duties was so exacting as to require the rest of my time.
I taught several schools where I had only one or two assistants; And many as the whole faculty And only one where I had other schools of the city, as well as other races under my supervision.