Carroll County


Savanna, Illinois

Clarence H. LeVitt, principal of the Savanna City grade schools from 1914 to 1927 was an educator who sold education. He insisted that education is a business, exacting in its demands, far-reaching in its influence, the biggest job in all the world. He believed that schools have a product to sell, that the teacher is the salesman and the pupils customers who must be satisfied. His advice to teachers, "If you would have your children do E (excellent) work do E grade teaching."

He believed the greatest problem of education was getting the story squarely before the public. During the years in Savanna he was a controversial figure. Pupils, parents, and teachers loved him. Others despised him. Finally his foes won and he resigned.

He received his bachelor's degree from Northern State Teachers College, DeKalb and a master's degree at Columbia University. He was a confirmed Deweyite. He contributed articles to educational mgazines and one to Collier's magazine.

In 1919 he wrote expounding his theories in a booklet, "The Pupil in the Savanna Schools," He said:

"The final test of an educational product: (1) Who makes it; (2) What is it made of; (3) What is it good for.

"In this great educational business, are you a clerk, an order taker or a salesman deluxe?

"If it takes a $50,000 man to run a million-dollar business, figure out for yourself the cash value of the woman who teaches that boy of yours.

"Don't wait for the pupil to get out in the world to discover it; bring it into the school.

"No youngster was ever 'over-sold' in self-responsibility.

"The only preparation for a virile, fruitful after-a-while is a strenuous purposeful right-now.

"You don't have to live in a big town to do big thins in education.

"Get away from the idea that the school is a place for instruction; it's a place for cooperative living.

"If the topics in the books have no bearing on the here and now; away with them; there is little enough time for the honest-to-goodness things without frittering it away on antiques."

LeVitt was born at Apple River, Ill. Feb. 14, 1874, where he started his teaching career. He was superintendent of schools at Belvidere from 1901 to 1911 before going to Savanna, later became director of public relations for Northern Ill. Teachers College, DeKalb.

Source: A Goodly Heritage Pg 360-361

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