In 1911, more than 80 percent of North Carolina’s children were “country children,” and the state’s superintendent of public instruction, J.Y. Joyner, encouraged the General Assembly to authorize the establishment of “farm-life schools,” which, according to Joyner, “would become an intellectual, industrial, and agricultural dynamo for the whole country.”
According to “The Encyclopedia of North Carolina,” the schools were supported by local county governments, which provided facilities and pledged $2,500 for operating expenses, an amount that the state matched. By 1916, there were 21 farm-life schools in operation, but the need for these schools faded with the passage of Smith-Hughes Act of 1917, which appropriated federal funds for vocational education in public high schools.
In 1915, a dinner for state legislators at the Cary Farm Life School demonstrated the benefits of the the school’s domestic instruction.
The kitchen is being enthroned in the life of the school system of North Carolina. Good cooking is now being considered as much a part of the education of a girl as “riting,” “reading” and “rithmetic.”
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This part of the educational system of the State is in connection with the farm life schools in the domestic science department. These schools are just getting a foothold, but those that are in existence are proving popular and are demonstrating the wisdom of those who promoted the idea.
The farm life school is the latest protege of Superintendent of Public Instruction Joyner and he is intensely interested in his pet, which, now a baby, promises soon to be a vigorous adult.
A practical demonstration of the value of the farm life school, and particularly the domestic science department, was given last night at Cary when the educational committees of the House and Senate were guests of a dinner of the domestic science department of the Cary Farm Life School.
The dinner which consisted principally of Wake county products, was prepared and served by the domestic science class under the direction of Miss Elizabeth Prior, the efficient teacher. It was a most tempting feast and was served in a most superb style by a bevy of pretty girls. Miss Prior and her class were the recipient of many pretty compliments. Those members of the legislature who were fortunate to be present were completely captivated and whatever doubts they may have had about the value of farm life schools was dispelled.
In addition to a number of the members of the two committees, there was present Lieutenant Governor Doughton, Superintendent Joyner, Prof. Z.V. Judd, former superintendent of the Wake county schools, Prof E.F. Sams and others.
Dr. Joyner acted as toastmaster and his happy remarks and the way he presided made the occasion a most eventful and enjoyable one.
The Cary school is a model one, and Dr. Joyner took a great interest in its establishment. He referred to it with pride in connection with his stirring remarks on the farm-life school system. He gave it as an example of what community co-operation could do. He said that there should be such a school in every county of the State and that two-thirds of the counties were in a position to establish them.
Senator Upchurch spoke on the Cary high school.
“The Cary Farm-life School and Its History” was the subject of the address by Mr. Charles J. Parker, chairman of the school board and president of the Cary Development Club. He spoke of the co-operation of the citizens of the town and how the donation of the city made it possible to equip the domestic science department in such a manner that in point of modern equipment it led the State. The N&O Jan. 21, 1915
Read more stories from local and state history and send us your own stories on the blog Past Times, newsobserver.com/pasttimes.