Community Commentary

June 14, 2000

Neala Yde Sullivan

Looking back on my teaching career, all 38 years spent at John Muir

Middle School, my reflections are memorable ones that I take with me as I

retire this month.

I could write a book about all of the changes in curriculum, personnel

and students at Muir since I started teaching in 1962. For 20 years, I

taught home economics, which has virtually disappeared in its original



My last 18 years have been spent teaching math and algebra in grades 6

to 9. When I started at Muir, then called a junior high school, I taught

grades 7 to 9.

In the early years, seventh-grade girls were required to take one

semester of Foods and their measure of success was how well their "Eggs a

la Goldenrod" turned out. Boys in the same grade had to complete one

semester of shop, wood or drafting.

Eighth-grade girls had to take one semester of clothing while the boys

were required to complete electric, metal or print shops.

Ninth-graders took typing as there was no such animal as computer


The Home Ec. Department provided a yearly dinner for the Board of

Education members, prepared and served by students. The clothing classes

had to make the aprons, tablecloths and napkins for the dinner. The Home

Ec. students also prepared refreshments for faculty functions such as

holiday, retirement and year-end parties.

Also in the early years, our staff was very cohesive. We had career

teachers and administrators, most who stayed until they retired.

One of the big, and welcome, changes five years ago was the

installation of phones in our rooms. Prior to this, we'd make a beeline

for the office so we could wait in line at the one phone booth in the

teacher's lounge.

It was quite an experience to make a parent call. Frequently the light

in the booth was burned out and the ventilating fan was nonfunctioning.

Sometimes you'd practically fall out in a near-coma condition.

One of the students' favorite traditions was the citywide event known

as the Green and White Fair. Students would be released early to

participate in the booths, which were sponsored by the teachers. It was

kind of a mini-carnival with our principal, Allan Burnside, wearing his

green and white beanie all week before the Friday afternoon festivities.

Dances were held at night and students actually dressed up. Our own

dance band sometimes provided the music.

Throughout the 1960s, a strict dress code was enforced. Girls were not

allowed to wear pants or shorts to school; skirt lengths were checked

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