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Edwin G. Cooley


Posted By: Ken Johnson (email)
Date: 6/13/2005 at 12:48:54

Thursday, 25 February 1909, Elkader Register and Argus, p2, c4:


The Success of a Clayton County School Teacher.

Edwin G. Cooley, who has tendered his resignation as superintendent of the public schools of Chicago after filling that position successfully for nine years, is a self-made son of Iowa. He was born, reared, and entered upon his career as an educator at Stramberry [Strawberry] Point in the southern part of Clayton county. His father still lives there at an advanced age of seventy-five. His mother died there in 1881.

The family are descended from old new England stock that furnished revolutionary heroes. Gilbert Cooley, the father of Superintendent Cooley, came to Clayton county fro Forrestville, Chautauqua county, New York, in 1854, and was one of the first to settled at Strawberry Point. He taught the village school for two terms and then engaged in the lumber business on the Maquoketa river in Cass township. On August 11, 1862, he enlisted in Company D, Twenty-first Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and was elected orderly sergeant. He served three years during which time he attained the ranks [sic] of second lieutenant. At the close of the war he returned to Strawberry Point and engaged in the insurance business and the sale of sewing machines and organs. He is well known in Clayton county, both as a politician in the republican ranks and a prominent member of the G. A. R. In 1856 he married Miss Martha Hammond, who was like himself of old New England family origin. Of the nine children born of their union, Edwin G. Cooley is the eldest.

He received an elementary education at Strawberry Point; later learned the wagon trade, assisted his father in his business, and engaged in the creamery business. In the meantime he continued his studies and was finally successful in working his way through the State University. Many years later by means of strenuous summer term work at the Chicago University, he got his doctor’s degree.

Mr. Cooley acquired his first teaching experience at Strawberry Point. He made so good at it, that he was elected to the superintendency [sic] of the Cresco schools in1885, a position which he held for six years. He became prominent in state educational circles during that time and was appointed trustee of the State Normal School. In 1891 he left Iowa to enter upon the duties of High school principal at Aurora, Ill. From then on his advance in his profession was almost phenomenal. He was elected principal of the High school at LaGrange, Ill. On the death of Col. Francis E. Parker he was elected principal of the Chicago Normal school, but scarcely had that honor been bestowed upon him when a call came to accept the superintendency of all of Chicago’s schools, at a salary of $10,000. That was in the year 1899. In twenty years by his own unaided efforts Edwin G. Cooley had risen from the position of grammar school teacher in the village of Strawberry Point, Clayton county, Iowa, to be superintendent of the second largest public school in the United States—400 schools, 60,000 teachers, and 250,000 school children were placed in his charge. He has filled the position of great difficulties for nine years. In 1907 he reached the top notch of influence as an educator when he was unanimously elected president of the National Teachers’ association in its meeting at Los Angeles.

In commenting upon the qualities in Superintendent Cooley’s make-up which have told for success, it has been said, “He is honest, strong-willed, conservative of speech and diplomatically shrewd. He is generally regarded as a fine type of the strenuous man of today.”

He resigns the superintendency of Chicago’s schools to become president of the D. C. Heath Publishing company of Boston, at a salary of $12,000 a year and a bonus of 200 shares of the company’s stock in addition to his salary.

In his letter of resignation sent to the board of education, Mr. Cooley gives the following as the reason for his resignation:

“An opportunity has come to me of engaging in a line of work that will be less strenuous than the superintendence of the Chicago schools, a work that seems likely to be congenial, although less to my liking in many ways than the supervision of a system of schools. I believe that I ought to accept this offer. I believe that the labors and worries involved in my present position will soon undermine my health and strength and force me out permanently. I believe that my own interests and the interests of my family demand that I anticipate this possible breakdown.”

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