Bio: Pigott, Gwen (Teacher at Mack School - 1974)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Pigott, Beaver

----Source: Tribune Record Gleaner (Loyal, Clark Co., WI) 10/31/1974

Pigott, Gwen (Teacher at Mack School - 1974)

Mingling with Mary (By Mary Woods)

Mrs. Pigott is pictured with three of her afternoon students, left to right: Kendra Huegel, Martin Kautzer, and Lynette Bender)

During the week of October 27 – November 2, educators and many other individuals will observe American Education week. The week has been set aside for parents, and those interested to visit a school and see what their child’s learning place is all about. If one would take a look at the importance of the American teacher today it would seem fitting to say that no one individual is more important than the other, but on the other hand, perhaps one teacher does stand out for the simple reason that she is the first school teacher that the child sees, and in the Loyal Public-School System, Mrs. Gwen Pigott is one of two kindergarten teachers who play that important role in starting the school education process of the child.

A graduate of the Loyal High School Class of 1954, Mrs. Pigott attended Wisconsin Rapids State Teachers College for two years, and began teaching. Her first assignment, at the age of 19, was the Mack School, southeast of Loyal, and after two years there she began six years of teaching at the Lincoln School, south of Loyal. Since the closing of the country schools become a fact, rather than something everyone thought may happen, Mrs. Pigott was hired to take the responsibilities of teaching the first kindergarten class in the Loyal School District in the fall of 1964. She states that she had approximately 70 students, divided into the morning and afternoon classes and that the students were transported by station wagon, rather than the present-day bus.

After teaching for some time, she later received her Bachelor’s degree, and Masters from UW-Stevens Point.

Asked about the changes that have occurred since that first class, Mrs. Pigott sates that the children seem to be more prepared to begin school than they were ten years ago. She attributes that to the media exposure that the children have, mainly Sesame Street, and other children programs. She also notes that parents are exposing their children to more experiences, and more activities and traveling is taking place. In explaining this factor, she points out that most of the children know their colors by the time they come to school in the fall and it used to be that the majority did not. She adds that many know their alphabet and if the child shows signs that they are ready for reading, individualized help is given.

Commenting on the kindergarten program in general, Mrs. Pigott states, “That many people think of kindergarten merely as a place where the children play all the time, and learn to get along with others. This perhaps is true but actually much more than this goes on in a good kindergarten. The program is set up to meet the present needs of the five-year-old, and to provide them with the background of experiences they will need for later ventures into reading, arithmetic, science, social studies, music, art, literature, and every other field of learning. For example, one would not expect to find a child in kindergarten doing a complicated problem in mathematics, yet the foundation for mathematics is started in the pre-school, and kindergarten years through the simple experiences with numbers.”

She continues to state that “because of the informality of a good kindergarten program, and its freedom from a rigid time schedule, it is possible to give a number of first hand experiences where he can learn by doing, provide time for him to experiment, and discover things for himself, and provide an opportunity for him to follow things for himself, and provide an opportunity for him to follow up on his particular interests and those of the group. All of which results in learning that is meaningful, and which is retained for a long period of time.”

Commenting on the final goal of kindergarten, she comments “the purpose of kindergarten is not merely the accumulation of knowledge, but the development growth of the whole child, physically, socially, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. The atmosphere of the kindergarten plays an important part in whether or not these goals are attained, and in the day and age, when out concerns are so great about the mental health of the population, we are beginning to realize the importance of the early emotional climate in a child’s life. We strive for an atmosphere, not only where children do entirely as they please, no one where children do only what pleases the teachers, but rather an atmosphere of acceptance, friendliness, and one conducive to growth, and learning, where the teacher guides, and helps each individual grow.”

Questioning Mrs. Pigott about the pre-school class which was conducted this past summer, she states with enthusiasm, that the program is designed for those who showed areas of weakness, and enabled most students to begin on the same basis, and gave those who needed extra help that sense of security, and accomplishment, and enables them to begin the year with excitement and joy, rather and fear and sadness. In the line, she also explains that for a child to get over his fear of school, and his new environment, two or three weeks of shyness can be expected. Due to pre-school program, she concluded that this years’ kindergarten class is approximately one month advanced compared to last years’ class.

Among the tears, and fears of the kindergarten class, the joys, smiles, and happy moments are also pointed out by Mrs. Pigott. Perhaps the time that brings most of the happiness, and smiles is that of “Show and Tell Time.” Giving an example of what does really happen, she recalls the day one little girl brought a beautiful shiny ring to the classroom, and showed it to her class, and being aware of many shiny rings that come in bubble gum machines, she (Mrs. Pigott) never gave it a second thought that perhaps the ring was real. Well, it happened that the little girl wanted to share the ring with her friend and sent it home with her where her mother became a little more suspicious and checked the ring out and called the child’s mother to see if she was missing a ring … and of course she answered with fear, and perhaps a little relief, “yes, my wedding ring is gone.” Mrs. Pigott adds to the thoughts of “Show and Tell” that she has kept a card on most of her students with the sayings, and precious things that they have done. Her first kindergarten class is now the sophomore class, and states that she looks at some of them now and wonders what they would say if she told them about what they were like when they were five! Yes, “Show and Tell Time” brings forth many things, and Mrs. Pigott laughs when she says that “If I had a quarter for every caterpillar that has been brought into my room, I’d never have to teach another day in my life!”

One could not take a look at the kindergarten class without thinking of the early Easter Parade that brings with it the beauty of spring and the “angel” in all the little children. The Easter Parade, now in its fifth year, gives the parents, and other visitors, the opportunity to see a year of learning, and working together produce a tremendous show. Another enjoyment, and souvenir for the children in the kindergarten class is the annual recipe book that is made by the students.

A story on the incidents and happenings in the kindergarten class could go on forever, but space does not allow much more, and the work of Mrs. Pigott, outside the school is also in need of recognition. As a member of the Free Methodist Church, she serves as Sunday School Superintendent, Junior Missionary Society Superintendent, and has been a youth director, and a delegate to the church conference. She also served as chairman of the elections committee for the Northwestern Education Association this fall in Eau Claire, and served as a representative to the delegate assembly in Madison for the Wisconsin Education Association Council in May for the Loyal Education Association.

In her home, she and her husband, Harlan, have welcomed Doug and Therese Beaver into their home. Doug is a junior, and Therese is a sophomore, and a former kindergarten student of Mrs. Pigott’s. Besides her work, she enjoys traveling, whenever possible, and working with flowers, crafts, and roller skating, along with the family. In school, she serves as president of the Loyal Education Association, and has served the position of secretary and vice-president.

American Education Week is the time for everyone to salute the teachers of our society, whether they teach math, history, or physical education, they all play an important role. And Mrs. Pigott, the teacher who is responsible for the grade which includes so much in its content, but on a level that the five-year-old can understand, a special salute is given!



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