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Headlines


One teacher’s light continues to shine
by Bruce Watson

Richfield Springs Central School recently accepted a $35,000 grant from the Clara Mixter Educational Trust that will be used to further the in-service training of its grades three through six teachers in August. The week of Aug. 15, the teachers will attend a four-day training workshop at Syracuse University. The workshop is part of the school district wide initiative called Performance by Design that supports the district’s goals to improve test scores and enhance the English Language Arts skills in the district’s students.   

RSCS recognizes the necessity for reading, writing, and listening skills for our students. Research studies have detailed and documented the importance of valid, consistent, and precise assessment and instruction of all children. The Performance by Design system will create a foundation from which all higher-level literacy skills are built.

“Our students will have the best opportunity for literacy development,” said RSCS Superintendent Bob Barraco. Performance by Design was highly successful in the Dryden School District, where Barraco served in a variety of administrative posts prior to coming to RSCS.

“We are extremely fortunate that the Mixter Educational Trust is supportive in our efforts here at RSCS and that the trustees are so benevolent in helping us meet the needs of our students,” said Barraco.  “No local funds are being used for this staff training. We are indebted to the trustees of the trust who saw an area where they could help and willingly contributed to help us improve our instructional program.”

The Clara Mixter Educational Trust was established by Clara Mixter who was educated in a one-room school house in the Little Lakes area in the town of Warren. She graduated from Oneonta Normal School with a degree in teaching and later returned to teach at Richfield Springs Central School.  

“Clara loved teaching,” said Lois Hyde, who is a trustee of the trust and a cousin of Mixter. “I have a picture of Clara in front of the school in Little Lakes. She saw this trust fund as a way of giving back to RSCS and she did so love the school in Richfield Springs.

“The Mixter family was raised on the family farm in the Little Lakes area of Richfield Springs. Ralph was a graduate of Union College and worked for General Electric before coming back to help brother Randall on the farm. Sisters Irene and Clara were graduates of Oneonta Normal School. Irene went on to teach on Long Island and Clara returned to this area to teach.”  

“They were very private frugal folks who believed in saving and investing their money. Even when they gave up the farm and moved to Johnson Street Extension in the village they would continue to can and freeze vegetables from their garden and live a modest lifestyle. They lived happy but simple lives.”  

The educational trust’s main emphasis is to provide scholarships to students who graduate from Richfield Springs Central School and wish to further their education in the fields of education and become teachers. “Clara’s legacy is that future teachers are being helped with expenses,” said Hyde. “She worked hard for her education and she would be happy knowing that the kids have it a bit easier thanks to her.”

This is the second time that the Mixter Trust has supported the educational program at RSCS. Two years ago, the district received a grant for the purchase of more than 30 laptop computers for teachers to utilize in their instructional programs.  

“We continue to look for ways to fund what we do here in ways other than always going to the taxpayers,” said Barraco. “With the staff training and computers provided by the Mixter Trust, our teachers are maintaining a level of expertise in teaching that directly benefits our students.”

Many longtime Richfield Springs residents recall Mixter and fondly remember having her as their teacher. American historian Henry Brooks Adams is quoted as saying, “A teacher affects eternity, one can never tell where his/her influence stops.”

Mixter continues to have an impact on the future generations of teachers and students at RSCS. Her light and influence continues to shine.

Bruce Watson is a teacher at RSCS.   


 


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