Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick


I attended Douds-Leando schools for six years. The school district did not have kindergarten, so I started out in first grade on September 1, 1946 at the tender age of five.

Mary Catherine Wiley was teacher, and Sam Lynn was Superintendent. According to report cards, school was held 179 days per year, and we still got out in mid-May. For example, I was promoted from 2nd to 3rd grade on May 21, 1948.

Douds-Leando Consolidated was a small school, with only about 200-210 students in 12 grades. Thus, teachers usually taught more than one grade. When I started school, first and second grades were in the same room under Miss Wiley. When I advanced to third grade, I moved across the hall where third and fourth grades were taught by Miss Mary Lou Haney.

Although it was a small school some of the teaching methods were very innovative. When I was in 5th grade, this was considered "Junior High School." By then, the new gymnasium had been built allowing more room in the school and less crowding.

Half of the town park in Leando was attached to the school grounds, and the street on the south side of the park was closed as work began on the new building. After it was completed in 1948, a new street opened on the north side of the gym. In those days the new gym was not connected to the old building, thus when we took physical education classes or music classes in the gym, we had to leave the old building to enter the new one.

Before the gym was built, the Home Economics room was used as a kitchen, and food was served in the hallway. Students carried heavy trays containing thick hotel-ware dishes to their desks to eat and spills were always happening. In 1948, the old gymnasium in the basement of the 3-story school building was turned into a kitchen and lunchroom allowing the old Home Economics room to be converted to a classroom.

Douds-Leando Consolidated developed what they called the "4-4-4" system. They still did not have Kindergarten. Instead, grades one through four were Elementary; grades five through eight were Junior High School; and grades nine through twelve were Senior High School. In Junior High we did not usually change rooms for classes. Instead, the teachers changed. Fifth and Eighth grades were in the same room, thus when one had a class, the other students had a study period. Sometimes the teacher taught both grades simultaneously, spending four or five minutes with one class, then the other.

At least once per day, two teachers would be in the same room attempting to teach their classes simultaneously, making it difficult for us to hear our teacher and concentrate.

Report cards showed an interesting grading method. In Junior High my fifth grade year, I took Arithmetic (Alice Brown); Reading (Dwain Dooley); Spelling (Mae Doud); Language (Mae Doud); History (Dwain Dooley); and Science (Dwain Dooley) the first semester, along with Art (Alice Brown); Penmanship (Mae Doud); Music (Ethyl Harryman) and Physical Education (Dwain Dooley.) Credit was given for Physical Education, with the other classes receiving letter grades. However, the report card also showed how I ranked with the 14 other members of my class.

For example, in Arithmetic the first six weeks there were no As and no Fs given. Eight students received B; 4 received C; and 3 received D. Since the number 8 was circled on the report card, this was my grade. Although I only got a B, the report shows that it was the highest mark given by the teacher, saving me from a lecture by my mother on why I didnt do better. I have never seen this grading method used in any other school system.

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick