Black and white photo of two women speaking to each other. Man in background.

Photograph of school trustee Ida Siegel. Siegel remained interested in educational and social issues throughout her long life.

Unknown
c. 1975
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012.X.929.i1
© 2014, Toronto District School Board (TDSB). All Rights Reserved.


Image of text about status of women teachers and principals

School trustee Mrs. Ida Siegel supported a many socially progressive causes at the Board. Here she inquires about the unequal status of women teachers and principals.

Toronto Board of Education
1936
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012.X.928.p126.i1
© 2014, Toronto District School Board (TDSB). All Rights Reserved.


Image of text of motion for more female leadership

School trustee Siegel prepared a motion, to go before the Board, to put male and female principals on a more equal footing in public schools. There is no record of action on the motion.

Toronto Board of Education
1936
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012.X.928.p138.i1
© 2014, Toronto District School Board (TDSB). All Rights Reserved.


Black and white photo of a woman wearing glasses.

Photograph of school trustee Edith L. Groves. The photograph is from a book of Groves’s poetry, Everyday Children, which can be found in the Board’s collection.

Unknown
20th Century
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012_X_631_p158
public domain


Image of textual report about special education classes in American cities

Edith Groves advocated for increased special education services in Toronto schools. However, she held ambivalent views of so-called “mentally defective” youngsters and at times supported eugenics.

Toronto Board of Education
c. 1919
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012.X.931.p749.i1
© 2014, Toronto District School Board (TDSB). All Rights Reserved.


Image of cover of "The Wasted Crust" sheet music

In addition to her work as an educator, Edith Groves was a well-known children’s poet and playwright. She wrote the words to this children’s song “The Wasted Crust” (1922).

Edith L. Groves, Bertha Louise Tamblyn
c. 1922
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012.X.932.p1.i1
public domain


Image of text a tribute to Edith L. Groves at time of her death

Edith L. Groves (b. 1870, d. 1931) was a Toronto school trustee from 1919 to 1931. She was chosen by fellow trustees as the Board’s first female chair in 1929.

Toronto Board of Education
1931
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012.X.930.p198.i1
© 2014, Toronto District School Board (TDSB). All Rights Reserved.


Black and white portrait photo of a woman in a mortarboard.

Portrait photograph of Toronto school inspector Dr. Aletta E. Marty (b. 1866, d. 1929). Marty was the first female school inspector appointed anywhere in Canada when she joined the inspector staff at the Toronto Board of Education in 1919. She died in South Africa while on professional exchange.

Unknown
c. 1919
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012.X.378.p149.i1
public domain


Image of text about Miss Aletta Marty accepting an appointment as school inspector

With Ada Courtice’s help, Dr. Aletta E. Marty was offered the position of Public School Inspector for Toronto. Marty joined a staff of eight school inspectors and one chief inspector. All were men.

Toronto Board of Education
c. 1919
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012.X.938.p214.i1
© 2014, Toronto District School Board (TDSB). All Rights Reserved.


Image of cover of "The Story of the Toronto Home and School Council"

Ada Courtice (b. 1860, d. 1923) started the Toronto Home and School Council in 1916. Courtice is recognized the founder of a home and school (parent council) movement in Canada.

Toronto Board of Education
c. 1916
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012.X.935.p1.i1
© 2014, Toronto District School Board (TDSB). All Rights Reserved.


Image of text, minutes, about a motion to hire female school inspector

As a Toronto school trustee (1916-20), Ada Courtice worked to advance social causes. In 1918, Courtice and other female trustees pushed the Board to appoint its first female school inspector.

Toronto Board of Education
c. 1918
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012.X.936.p258.i1
© 2014, Toronto District School Board (TDSB). All Rights Reserved.


Image of textual report about hiring of female school inspectors.

The Board’s Management Committee passes Ada Courtice’s motion favouring the hiring of female school inspectors.

Toronto Board of Education
c. 1919
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012.X.937.p8.i1
© 2014, Toronto District School Board (TDSB). All Rights Reserved.


Image of textual report about special education classes

Dr. MacMurchy (b. 1862, d. 1953) was one of Canada’s first female doctors. She led efforts to address so-called ‘feeblemindedness,’ including through special education (“auxiliary”) classes.

Toronto Board of Education
c. 1920
Toronto Region, CANADA
2012.X.935.p13.i1
© 2014, Toronto District School Board (TDSB). All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Women played pioneering roles in public education in Canada, including school trustee, teacher, principal, member of the Home and School Association, school inspector, school nurse and school doctor. In addition to supporting the causes of feminism and the rights of women educators, reform-minded women in education were on the cutting edge of a broad range of reforms. Reforms that women advanced 75 to 100 years ago, such as progressive education (the “New Education”) or Home and School Associations, remain mainstays of modern schooling today.

This Learning Object profiles five leading women in education in the first half of the twentieth century: Ida Siegel, Edith L. Groves, Aletta Marty, Ada Courtice, and Helen MacMurchy.

Users may: think about leadership qualities and the gendered politics of leadership in the context of the historical thinking skill of continuity and change; work on the skill of historical perspective as they examine the choices female reformers made in the context of their times.


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