Concord Training School

History, Program of Study, and Faculty

Athens Elementary School originally began as a graded and junior high school known as Concord Training School.  It had its beginning at Concord State Normal School and consisted of those pupils in town who preferred to attend at the Normal School rather than at the public school.  Only as many pupils were received as three rooms would accommodate.  It represented eight grades so that the student-teachers in training could have ample opportunity for observation and practice in all of the eight grades.  Its eventual two-story brick public school building was erected on the site previously occupied by the former Concord Normal School’s third building, which was destroyed by a fire in 1910.  The building had a basement and nine rooms, of which eight were classrooms originally housing grades one through eight.  In later years to accommodate increasing elementary enrollment, a small detached white frame single classroom was built in Summer of 1950 on the left side nearest the Athens Baptist Church.

Many former elementary pupils who attended Concord Training School will remember Mrs. Virginia Sizemore as their Fourth Grade teacher, and so it is perhaps fitting that we are again instructed by her words, this time concerning a brief history of the school.  In her thesis The History of Concord College by Virginia L. Sizemore, A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Education of Marshall College in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts, Marshall College, 1950, she wrote the following two paragraphs:

The State Board of Control executed a long lease of the old (Concord Normal) school site to the Board of Education of Plymouth District, on which that Board was to erect a public school building.  Under the terms of the lease, the school was to be used as a training school for Normal School students and furnish them full opportunity to obtain all such work required.  The district built a modern eight-room building.

In 1914 the Training School had an enrollment of 145 pupils, representing the eight grades.  It was maintained for practice and observation of the pupils in training.  All but ten of the training school pupils were from the town of Athens.  They paid the regular Normal School enrollment fee of $6.00 per year.

The 1923 – 24 Concord State Normal School catalog carried the following additional description of the training school:

 Arrangements have been made with the Board of Education of Plymouth district, and with the State Board of Education, whereby the Graded and Junior High School of Athens is to open to Normal School seniors for observation and practice teaching.  The school is maintained jointly be the State and local district.  It is actually a public school composed of pupils under the usual conditions, and with the usual problems to be found in public schools, and the experience gained there is of direct value to the student for the preparation of future work.

The aim of the Training School is not to be different from the public school, but to be like the best of them.  The student teacher then is gaining the working knowledge of public school conditions that is essential to make his vocation a success.

After Athens High School relocated in January of 1941 from its previous facility (the “Old Red Barn”) to its new building erected a short distance behind the training school, the elementary school became known as the elementary division of Concord Training School, Athens Unified Public School.  The school name Concord Training School would continue to appear on students’ report cards until the end of the 1953 – 54 school year, after which the name Athens Elementary School appeared.

In February of 1949, a large delegation of Athens residents met with the Mercer County Board of Education to voice concerns about the condition of the Athens schools.  The elementary school building was characterized as a fire, sanitary and health hazard, and as being far below the needs of its students.  In urging the Board’s support for making needed improvements, it was pointed out that the elementary structure was built by a subscription campaign by earlier Athens citizens, and that the Board had in fact never erected a public school building in Athens out of Board funds.

Following the end of the 1955 – 56 school year on May 31, 1956, the old Concord Training School building was closed and demolished.  Its elementary students began the new school year on September 4, 1956 in the new Athens Elementary School which had been added as a wing to the stone-structured high school building.  A bronze plaque acknowledges that the new facility was made possible by members of the Mercer County Board of Education, 1954 – 1957.  Also added to the new school was a new wing completed in Spring of 1957 containing the gymnasium and a stage for student activities.  This additional wing, later dedicated as the Joe Vachon Gymnasium, is situated on the site of the old Concord Training School elementary building.


Exhibit 1.  Concord Training School Course of Study for 7th and 8th Grades, 1914 – 1915

Exhibit 2.  Early Concord Training School Faculty:

Concord Training School Faculty, 1917 – 18
Nellie Lanham
Sallie C. Hayes
Wilda Lee Montgomery
Bertha Boggess
Pearl Preston Cooper

Concord Training School Faculty, 1924 – 25
Thomas A. Cook, Principal
Bertha Mahaffy, First Grade
Clarice Caldwell, Second Grade
Henrietta Sackett, Third Grade
Clara Walthall, Fourth Grade
Mary Dickenson Rogers, Fifth Grade
Lucy Yates, Sixth Grade
Jas. Walthall, Seventh Grade
Thomas A. Cook, Eighth Grade

Concord Training School Faculty, 1925 – 26
Thomas A. Cook, A. B.
Clarice Caldwell
Bertha Mahaffey
Mary Dickinson Rogers
Henrietta Sackett
Clara Walthall
Joe Walthall
Lucy Yates

Concord Training School Faculty, 1928 – 29
George Bryson, A. B.
Kathryn Gibson, A. B.
Eunice Crenshaw, A. B.
Honor Glover, A. B.
Ruth Shumate, A. B.
Louise Lipps
Clarice Caldwell
Dorsie Martin

Concord Training School Elementary Faculty, 1950 – 1951
Adriel C. Hinkle, Principal, Concord Training High and Elementary School, 1946 –
Riccardo Martin, Intermediate Grades, Assistant Principal, Elementary Division, 1946 –
Faye Cooper, Primary Grades
Kathryn Gibson, Intermediate Grades
Louise Lipps, Primary Grades
Frank Parker, Intermediate Grades
Virginia Sizemore, Intermediate Grades
Mary Kelly Strong, Primary Grades
Billie M. Tanner, Primary Grades
Joan Ball Wright, Primary Grades

Concord Training School Elementary Faculty, 1951 – 1952
Adriel C. Hinkle, Principal, Concord Training High and Elementary School, 1946 –
Riccardo Martin, Assistant Principal, Elementary Division, 1946 –
Louise Lipps, M.A.
Mary Kelly Strong, 1st Class Elementary
Kathryn Gibson, M.A.
Frank Parker, M.A.
Joan Wright, M.A.
Cathlee Keaton, 1st Class Elementary
Virginia Sizemore, M.A.
Billie Tanner, 1st Class Elementary

Concord Training School Elementary Faculty, 1952 – 1953
Adriel C. Hinkle, Principal
Riccardo Martin
Frank Parker
Virginia Sizemore
Kathryn Gibson
Joan Wright
Billie Tanner
Mary K. Strong
Cathlee Keaton
Louise Lipps

Concord Training School Elementary Faculty, 1953 – 1954
Adriel C. Hinkle, Principal
Riccardo Martin, Sixth Grade
Frank Parker, Fifth Grade
Virginia Sizemore, Fourth and Fifth Grades
Joan Wright, Fourth Grade
Julia Wiley, Third Grade
Billie M. Tanner, Second and Third Grades
Mary K. Strong, Second Grade
Louise Lipps, First Grade
Cathlee Keaton, First Grade

Athens Elementary School Faculty, 1954 – 1955
Joseph T. Vachon, Principal
Riccardo Martin, Sixth Grade, Assistant Principal – Elementary School
Frank Parker, Sixth Grade
Virginia Sizemore, Fifth and Sixth Grades
Joan Wright, Fourth Grade
Clara Williams, Third and Fourth Grades
Roberta Parker, Third Grade
Ruth P. Thompson, Second Grade
Cathlee Keaton, First Grade
Louise Lipps, First Grade
James Mole, Band

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