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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Local History: Recalling Prof. Mark Creasy, Hawley Schools

  •  HAWLEY- As America welcomed the promises of the 20th century, advancing educational opportunities was seen as paramount. Hawley High School was no exception to this cause.  At the helm as principal for nearly 20 years during this period was Mark A. Creasy, a leader of the Wayne County Teachers Institute.
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  •  HAWLEY- As America welcomed the promises of the 20th century, advancing educational opportunities was seen as paramount. Hawley High School was no exception to this cause.  At the helm as principal for nearly 20 years during this period was Mark A. Creasy, a leader of the Wayne County Teachers Institute.
        Born May 4, 1866 to Philip and Sarah Creasy in Columbia County, his father was a farmer. Mark was one of seven children.
         Known later as “Professor Creasy”, Mark educated himself by alternatively teaching and attending school. In 1891 he graduated from Bloomsburg State Normal School (now, Bloomsburg University). Within 10 years he had added 11 branches to his diploma.
        The same year he graduated, Creasy came to Hawley where he was appointed as vice principal of the Hawley Graded School. Two years later, in 1893, he was elected principal.
        He turned down an offer in June 1902 to become principal of the Honesdale schools, because the Hawley School Board refused to accept his resignation.
       Hawley High School was established in 1879 at a cost of $17,000.
    The large frame school was built on the hill along Atkinson Street, the street parallel to it becoming Academy Street. Its high school program was a significant advancement in education for the area, and coincided with the movement to create a new borough government.
       Principals up through 1900 included L.A. Freeman, S.D. Barnes, F. H. Bottsford, Kimber Cleaver and Mark Creasy. Illustrated Wayne (1900) stated, “Prof. Creasy is acknowledged to be one of the best educators in this section of the state.”
    ••• Teacher Institutes
        Prof. Creasy was active with the Wayne County Teacher’s Institute.
    The local newspapers gave detailed accounts of their meetings.  At these gatherings, teachers from schools spread across the county- many more than in these modern days of consolidated districts- would be represented by teachers and administrators, ready to share and learn from one another and special speakers.  Like at other school functions, a local minister would open the sessions in prayer and scripture reading.
         It was a solemn fact that those with a passion for education had much to do to inspire an overwhelming majority of families in their locales who did not share the same value, or felt their children were needed at home, on the farm or at the mill. When Hawley Graded School opened in 1879, for instance, school officials had to compete with the Bellemonte Silk Mill and other manufacturers where girls were employed at the age of 8.
         Among the points raised at the April 29-30, 1910 Institute, hosted by the school at Hamlin,  Prof. Oden C. Gartner, Mansfield Normal School, was the keynote speaker.
    Page 2 of 5 -      Prof. Gartner stated, “One out of 80 children who start school reach high school, and one out of five who enter high school graduate.
    The trouble lies with the parent and the lack of interest between teacher and pupil.
    “The home and school should cooperate in morals and manners. Teachers do not realize their bad habits. We are judged by conduct and conduct is three fourths of life…”
         Educators were warned of the perilous influence of the modern age on young minds, namely watching movies at the theater.
       “An effort should be made to guide the children out of school,” admonished Prof. Gartner. “The street is no place for them, nor the sensational picture shows, for wrong ideas lead to wrong ideals.”
       He called on teachers to better understand human nature. “Be a friend to the boy and girl, have a heart full of love and sympathy, don’t deny them opportunities,” Prof. Gartner told the Institute. “You are responsible to an extent for their futures. You have the opportunity to touch their lives and the impression is for life and eternity. Our work is not done for this life but for ages to come.”    At that session, Prof. Creasy was appointed to a committee to systemize the high school program.
    Reports of the local district Teacher’s Institute have been found, meeting at the Hawley school in 1904 and 1908. At the January 1908 session, Supt. D. L. Hower gave a rousing lecture on the efficient teacher. He said a teacher must exercise scholarship- know more than he/she could possibly teach; be of a strong, true character and make every minute count. Don’t try to teach everything but drill well upon the essentials. Expect more out of the pupils and you will get more.
      The District Teacher’s Institute met at White Mills School in February 1909, representing Hawley, Palmyra, Paupack and White Mills schools.  Prof. Creasy was one of the speakers; his topic was “How to Teach Use of Dictionary and Encyclopedia.”
        Editor Henry Wilson of the Honesdale Citizen was sure to bring out the witty side as well as the serious.
       In November 1910 the Institute met at Honesdale High School. (The school building was located on Church Street between the Methodist and Presbyterian churches.)
      The Citizen’s  front page headline, and first paragraph, makes much of a comical moment when Prof. Creasy had lost his goulashes for his shoes.
        The lead paragraph: “Prof. Mark Creasy, Hawley, said, ‘I have an announcement that will not interest the ladies, and only about 15 of the gentlemen. I had yesterday a pair of rubbers, size 8-½, Gold Seal brand new. I might need them before the end of the week.”
    Page 3 of 5 -     He took part in a day-long meeting of the Teacher’s Institute held in February 1911 at Honesdale. Forty six educators from across Wayne County met in the high school auditorium. The Citizen reported that there was considerable discussion of how to properly influence high school pupils. Many attended school, it was said, because they were sent there. Giving these pupils a sense of purpose is a serious concern.
       Said Prof. Creasy, “In some cases, we ought to give them different ancestors.”
       One of the teachers from Hawley, Miss Ora Rollison, spoke on “Primary Plans and Devices.” She advised, “We ought to have several visiting days, so that we could go into other rooms and see how other teachers meet their problems.” Among the “indispensable” things a primary teacher ought to have, she listed, were pencils, oak tags, letter “alphabet cards”, manilla envelopes for seat work, a pair of scissors for every child, charcoal, etc., and picture books. “I couldn’t teach school,” she said, “without a pair of scissors.”  
         The 44th annual Teacher’s Institute was held Nov. 13, 1911 in Honesdale.  Opening with song, the Citizen went on to report (on page one) that County School Superintendent J.J.. Koehler admonished the ladies to remove their hats. “... and presto, the singing improved greatly,” the report states.  “ And say, the way they sang, ‘Jack and Jill Went up the Hill,’ and etc., was enough to  make the shingles fly.”  
           Prof. Creasy, along with J.H. Kennedy of Pleasant Mount, were elected as vice-presidents at the session.
          Attending from Hawley were Mark Creasy, principal; Paul J. Sanders; Merta Underhill; Edith N. Freed; Edna Hauenstein; Elizabeth A. Daniels; Alice R. Crosby; Irene Bishop; Blanche Westbrook; Anna Lawlor; Ora Rollison; Alma Spencer Bortree and Elizabeth Gregg.
    *** Less than 15% graduated
        At Hawley High School, Prof. Creasy as principal had the honor to hand out diplomas. Graduation in June 1909, for instance, was held at the Standard Opera House on Church Street in Hawley. There were 11 members of the class. Rather unusual was the fact that most were boys, and most were planning to pursue higher education.
       The account in the Wayne County Herald adds that it was a sad fact at Hawley that most young people did not receive diplomas. Less than 15% of school children in Hawley at that time reached graduation.
       The guest speaker in 1909 was Dr. H. J. Whalen of Carbondale, who spoke nearly on hour, his speech entitled “Forces That Win.” He lauded Hawley schools for their high standards.
    Page 4 of 5 -     Prof. Creasy awarded diplomas that year to Irene M. Bishop, George E. Teeter, Hattie D. Tuthill, Mable S. Rodman, Floyd E. Crabbe, Warren P. Murphy, Frederick A. Lobb, Frank J. Curran, Raymond B. Wall, Lewis E. Welsh and Charles Krause.
    *** Married to Phoebe Shew
            In 1898, Mark Creasy was wed to Phoebe Shew, a native of Maryland. Records do not indicate any children. They rented a  house on Church Street, near Main Avenue. She was two years younger than her husband.
         She may have been a teacher as well.  The local district Teacher’s institute met at the Hawley school in January 1908. Mrs. Creasy spoke on “The teacher as overseer.” She stressed the importance of the teacher acting as superintendent as well as teacher and gaining the cooperation of parents. “Keeping school is no less important than teaching school,” she Wayne County Herald reported, of her talk. She also helped as a substitute teacher, at least on one occasion reported in the paper in March 1911.
           Mrs. Creasy taught a Sunday School class for young ladies at the Hawley Methodist Church.
        Prof. Creasy was also active at the Methodist Church. He gave a welcoming address for their new pastor,  Rev. Ripley and his wife, at a reception in May 1907. Prof. Creasy gave an illustrated lecture on the Passion Play at the courthouse in March 1903, to raise funds for a school piano.
        Prof. Creasy made several trips abroad or across the continent to enhance his qualifications as an educator. By 1901 he had visited eight countries in Europe, 23 states and part of Canada.
        A lot closer to home, Mark and Phoebe went on a two week sojourn to Big Pond (Fairview Lake) in July 1910. Many Hawley area people enjoyed renting cabins at the lake.
       Local Civil War veterans, making up the I. Monroe Thorp Post of the G.A.R. At Hawley, paid respects to the Civil War dead in June of 1907.
    Prof. Creasy conducted the main ceremony, at Thorp’s grave site.
        In 1910 he was named president of the Bloomsburg Normal School Alumni Association in Wayne County.
       We read that in December 1911 Prof. Creasy drilled a “company of cadets” for a school holiday program. They were among 150 grade school youngsters at an evening operetta in the school auditorium entitled, “A Merry Company.”
         Winter frolic: In February 1911 Prof and Mrs. Creasy went on a sleigh ride from Hawley  to Blooming Grove with friends.
         In June 1911 he and his wife, with his mother, traveled to the Pacific Coast to attend the National Education Association in San Francisco.
    Page 5 of 5 -     A report in March 1912 states that Prof Creasy was appointed as chairman of the Examining Board of Education, which oversaw the 21st district, comprising Wayne, Pike, Lackawanna and Susquehanna counties.
          He was credited by the state superintendent for his attainments and high standing of the Hawley schools. Examinations were to be taken by about 200 teachers, some for permanent certificates and others to add necessary subjects to the list which they are qualified by previous certificates to teach.
     ••• Went to Maryland
      In 1912, Professor Creasy resigned from Hawley Graded School to accept a position as a teacher at Chestertown, Maryland. By 1913 he was listed as principal at the newly built high school there.
      The August 21, 1912 Honesdale Citizen reported that Mr. And Mrs.
    Mark Creasy had left Hawley the week before for Lightstreet, Columbia County, to visit his parents. They were staying there a few weeks before starting his new assignment in Maryland.
       ”In the departure of Mr. Creasy from our town we lose a good citizen a gentleman of excellent character and a man that any community would be most fortunate in securing. Mr. Creasy has lived here 21 years, was well known and very highly regard and he and Mrs. Creasy will be greatly missed by a large circle of aquaintances,” the Hawley Times reported, reprinted in the Citizen.
          Mark Creasy was highly popular at Chestertown High School. Eventually, the high school library at Chestertown would be named in his memory.
          He died Sunday, January 12, 1930, while he was serving as the principal there. He was laid to rest at Lightstreet, Columbia County. Phoebe continued to live at Bloomsburg, with her sister and brother.
    Phoebe died in 1954.
          The Board of Education of Kent County, MD published a resolution upon Prof. Creasy’s death, stating is held a “fatherly interest” to his pupils. The Enterprise newspaper (Chestertown) stated that hundreds of pupils found in him an understanding friend.

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