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A Tribute to Work of Miss KnightLetters From Our Readers
Worcester Daily Telegram
A Tribute to Work of Miss Knight
To the Editor of the Telegram:
May I use your columns to pay a much deserved tribute to Miss Marietta Knight, one of the finest teachers Worcester ever had?
Miss Knight's great value to her pupils lay in her personal regard for each. They were never just a class to her, but individuals in whom she was vitally interested even after their graduation. She could adapt herself to the slowest minds and stimulate the most gifted ones to develop the best. Robert Benchley and many another would gladly acknowledge this. She taught them to think, and to express their thought in simple clear English, no small task.
Before schools had Deans, Miss Knight served unofficially in this capacity for scores of boys and girls who brought to her sympathetic understanding and practical common sense their life a well as school problems.
It is a remarkable fact in her long and successful career of about 50 years, that it was achieved without the help of the college training that her fine mind craved as she was obliged in her 'teens to go to work to support her widowed mother and a younger sister. But finally, backed financially by a friend, she graduated from the Worcester Normal School and secured a position in the grades here.
So marked was her ability that when the English High School was built she was not only elected to teach English but was made head of the English department. Now Worcester had never had an English Department. At the Classical High this subject was taught only enough to cover the college requirements for entrance.
But now someone must plan four full years of grammar, rhetoric and literature for five periods a week. And Miss Knight accomplished this pioneering task.
On completion of the South High School, Principal Homer P. Lewis requested her transfer to his staff there. Here young college graduates, of whom I was one, were thankful to learn from her how to adapt the teaching of English to high-school ages, for that is the hardest subject to teach efficiently. None of us can begin to estimate our debt to her, or the benefit we were enabled to pass on to hundreds of our own pupils.
Much character development, unconscious assimilation of good manners, and a deepening of appreciation of good literature came from participation in the dramatic club Miss Knight organized and coached for years at the South High School.
Carrying this and her class work with ease, she was able to write for publication, thus extending to countless other young teachers the benefits of her pioneering. Her "Primer Of Essentials in Grammar and Rhetoric" was followed by a "Dramatic Reader," "A Practice Book in English" and Cooper's "The Pathfinder, Adapted to Schools," within a few years.
Obliged by her acceptance of the teachers' pension plan to retire at the age of 70, she stopped teaching while doing the best work of her career, and was sorely missed. But her energies went out into increased civic work. From 1915 on, she had been one of three members of the bulletin committee Of the Motion Picture Board of Review. This committee was of vital importance to the success of the board in its efforts to improve the character of motion pictures.
Because of her good work she was appointed year after year by the chairman, and then elected in later years by ballot by the board itself. On retirement from teaching she carried on this work till two years ago when improvement in pictures made reviewing almost unnecessary.
During the depression, the Y.W.C.A. opened classes for unemployed girls in connection with which Miss Knight gave unsparingly of herself and time, doing outstanding work for which her rich experience had peculiarly fitted her.
Miss Knight's calm, well balanced attitude toward life, her wide human interests, and unselfish giving of herself and her resources to family and friends made her a tower of strength to all who knew and loved her. Her genial humor robbed many a crisis of its sting, and cleared the vision of others for saner view of difficulties.
There are scores of her former pupils scattered over the State who will feel a personal loss at her passing.
(Mrs.) FLORENCE KELLEY