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Cadet Teaching, 1942 - 1946

Cadet Teaching Brochure, 1944
Cadet Teaching Brochure, 1944Mantor Library at UMF

During the war years of the 1940s, there was a serious shortage of teachers. The Maine Department of Education devised a Cadet Teaching Program to help fill the need for teachers in rural schools in the state that might be otherwise forced to close. Under the program, Cadet Teaching Centers were established throughout Maine and Farmington State Normal School (FSNS) students began participating in the program in 1942.

Field Placements

FSNS students in the field were supervised by a Cadet Teaching Center critic teacher and either the director of student teaching at the Normal School, Miss Emma Mahoney, or the assistant director, Julia Cox, who made periodic visits to the schools to observe the cadets in the classroom.

The students studying to become teachers served as cadets. Most did a nine-week placement working solo in a classroom, but some had placements that were twice as long. Some Home Economics students also served as cadets, although their placements were for 6 weeks and their classrooms were supervised.

In 1942, FSNS had four Cadet Teaching Center groups. The centers were located in Bingham, Guilford, Turner Center and New Portland and each supported a group of five students who were placed in rural schools in close proximity to each other. Some of placements were in one-room schools, others were in graded schools. The number of students per school averaged twelve to fourteen with the average number of grades being six. During this first year, only Normal seniors participated in the program.

During the 1943-1944 academic year, there were 70 Normal students serving as cadet teachers working under five centers located in Kingfield, Dover-Foxcroft, Norridgewock, Turner Center and Bingham. Both seniors and juniors taught under the program.

By the third year, only junior students served as cadets, with placements under the supervision of centers in Turner and Temple. The sophomores filled the cadet positions by the fourth year, with placements in Farmington, Jay, Rangeley, Rumford, Mount Vernon, Belgrade, Smithfield and Norridgewock. Those who did not participate in cadet teaching did student teaching in the “Campus School” at the college.

Cadet Training

The Normal School’s cadet training began with a nine-week course in a “one-room school” created in a classroom at the Mallett School. The practice classroom included a student or two from each grade to provide the cadet trainees with hands-on experience in a setting similar to the small mixed-grade rural schools to which they would likely be assigned.

Life As A Cadet

Because the schools were often in remote locations with limited transportation options, the Normal students lived with families in the communities where they were placed. Many cadets stayed in homes with no running water or indoor bathroom and limited heat in winter. Most also had long walks from their lodgings to their schools. The cadets received a salary for their cadet half-year, but it was not much. For some, it barely covered the costs of room and board at their temporary accommodation.

Pledge of Allegiance, 1943

In addition to preparing coursework and teaching lessons to students of various ages and grade levels, the cadets organized games and activities to encourage fitness, cooperation and sportsmanship. There were plenty of classroom challenges too, including limited school supplies, no electricity or indoor plumbing, misbehaving woodstoves, and occasionally intoxicated or mischievous pupils.

Some cadets spent time teaching the children about the countries where the fighting was happening and how to identify the war planes. These efforts helped the children better understand the war and allay their fears about the planes they often saw flying overhead. The school children also participated in efforts to support the war by buying stamps and bonds and collecting scrap iron and paper.

Decades later many of the Normal graduates recalled their cadet teaching with fondness. It prepared them well for their own teaching careers and they learned as much, if not more, than their students from the experience.

Sources: Prepare Today for Tomorrow’s World: Teaching – Essential Wartime Work With a Peacetime Future, Farmington State Normal School; Babes in the Woods: The Wartime Cadet-teaching Experiences of the Class of 1945, Farmington State Normal School, University of Maine at Farmington, 1990; Effesseness, 1942 – 1945, Effestico, 1945-1947