High School Teacher Interview – B C Cattau

Shawano High School
1948 – 1985

by Jane Glenz

Ms. Cattau earned her teaching degree from Platteville State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She taught the teacher training class at Shawano in the 1920’s and 30’s and later taught English and Journalism at the high school. This interview was conducted in August, 1988. Ms. Cattau died about five months after the interview.

Where are you originally from?
A little town in southern Wisconsin called Avoca. It’s in Iowa County.

How did you know there was a vacancy here?
Mr. T. W. Tomlinson was Superintendent of Schools here and he was new. At the time I was going to the university in Madison. He came down there and went to a teacher’s agency. There was a girl working there from my hometown and she told him to go and see me. He came up and talked to me and asked me to come to Shawano. So, I did.

I lived at Adrian Gansen’s on Franklin Street next door to Louie’s family (Cattau) and he was just out of law school. I started going out with him right away.

Where did you teach in Shawano?
I was teaching at Lincoln and Miss Bush from the State Department of Public Instruction came and Olga Brener suggested she talk to me about teaching this teacher training course because I had had more training than most at that time. They had a Miss Miller here and she wasn’t coming back and they asked me to take the job. So, I did.

What exactly did you do?
I had quite a few subjects to teach. I taught Methods, Psychology, History and other subjects needed for a teaching background.

Where was this taught?
At Lincoln School downstairs. I had the whole downstairs. I had a model school there. I would take these “would be” teachers and teach them how to teach a class in this model school. That way they got some experience.

Olga Brener would pick kids to be in the model school. They were usually very good students. We would also have different teachers come in and teach different subjects.

In the spring when they were almost finished, they went out to practice in the area schools. I was given a car to go out and see how they were doing. They would be there for about two weeks. Then they would come back to finish up the year.

How many students did you have at one time?
I don’t remember. I think it was around 20 or 22.

Was this a one or two-year course?
One and then they got one year college credit for it. I had to teach the same thing they did in the first year of college or in those days normal school.

If they finished the course, they were given a first-grade certificate from the county superintendent. They were allowed to teach for five years and then get it renewed. This meant they could teach I-8th grade in the rural schools.

How many years did you teach this course?
Ten, I think.

Now these students came right from high school and then into teacher training?

Yes, they were tested. They were all good students.

Mostly men or women?
They were mixed. Many of them have done very well now in other areas.

You had to quit when you got married?
Yes, they didn’t give teachers contracts if they were married. We were married in June, 1935.

Did you go back to teaching later?
I subbed a little bit but we traveled a lot so I didn’t have much time to do that either. I’ve been in practically ever foreign country except Africa or Australia.

Who took over as your replacement?
Emma Bottin. She came up here from Milwaukee. She worked a year and in 1936 or 1937 the state didn’t feel they could finance it anymore. The city and the county felt they couldn’t handle it alone. So, it was discontinued. It was a disappointment to many students who couldn’t afford to go away to school.

How much were you paid?
Well, I got a little more than the grade school teachers but I don’t remember exactly how much.

Who decided what textbooks you would use?
That was determined by the State because every school used the same book.

What did the county superintendent do?
I worked with him because of the scheduling and visiting. Kids usually chose their home schools so they could stay at home.

Who made out the exam they had to pass?
They were sent by the state. I remember one time when I was giving a test and Mr. Reetz came pounding on the door and I was timing the test. I got really mad but I let him in — he was the superintendent. I had to throw those tests out.