The Mennonite Teachers' Association (or Conference) of Kansas (Mennonitischer Lehrerverein) was founded in 1886 for the purpose of promoting Christian education among the Mennonites who had recently come from Russia, Prussia, and Poland. It was a continuation of a similar organization in Russia. H. H. Ewert of Halstead, Kansas called a first meeting of teachers in the spring of 1886, and a second meeting during the summer, at which a constitution was adopted, which was slightly revised and reprinted in 1910 and 1925. The Mennonite Teachers' Association grew out of the Kansas Conference of Mennonites, which became the Western District Conference (General Conference Mennonite) and had originally concerned itself chiefly with matters of education. The Association met twice annually, during the Christmas and summer vacations. Local or district meetings of the Association were held at various places. These meetings took place in the school of the local teacher, where one of the teachers presented a demonstration lesson which was later criticized and used for discussion. A public program followed. The Mennonite Teachers' Association organized and sponsored the German Teachers' Institute, which had its first session 6 August 1894.
During World War I, when the feeling against the use of German was strong, the Association experienced a setback from which it never recovered. In 1924 the Association published the Lehrplan für Ferien-Bibel-Schulen (Lesson Plan for Vacation Bible Schools) prepared by a special committee. The Bethel College Monthly (15 January 1927) reported the 65th meeting, which was held on 28 December 1926, at Newton. During the Christmas vacation of 1932 the 71st meeting was held (Mennonite Weeklly Review, 11 January 1933). The last meeting was held in 1941 at the First Mennonite Church of Newton. The interest in the organization had apparently disappeared.
In Nebraska the Mennonite teachers founded a Mennonite Teachers' Association in 1898, which included the teachers of Jefferson, Gage, Cumming, Hamilton, and York counties. The first meeting was held in Jansen. The activities were similar to those in Kansas, but the organization was discontinued at an earlier date. It is probable that similar organizations existed in Dakota and Minnesota.
The contributions made to Mennonite education by the Association during the difficult pioneer conditions have never been fully investigated and evaluated. A very valuable source for this purpose would be the questionnaires filled out by the 31 existing Mennonite schools in Kansas in 1892-1893 (in Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College (North Newton, Kansas), which give much information pertaining to schools, teachers, textbooks, etc.
H. H. Ewert organized a number of activities along the line of the Teachers' Association among the Mennonites of Manitoba. Before the turn of the century he introduced local monthly teachers' conferences in the various school districts under his supervision. The program was very much the same as in Kansas. During World War I these conferences were discontinued, and after the war attempts to revive them were not very successful. In 1900 Ewert created a German Teachers' Conference (Lehrerkonferenz) for Southern Manitoba, which met annually, alternating between Gretna and Winkler. Later Altona and Plum Coulee were added. The conferences usually lasted two days. First they were conducted in German and after World War I in English. In 1929 the Mennonite teachers who had come from Russia organized another (German) Teachers' Conference in Manitoba, which had its regular meetings. In 1948 it was decided at a teachers' conference to publish the Mennonitische Lehrerzeiiung (later Mennonitische Welt),which appeared 1948-1952.
Peters, H. P. History and Development of Education Among the Mennonites of Kansas. Hillsboro, KS, 1925: 78 ff. (contains translated constitution).
Schaefer, Paul J. Heinrich H. Ewert : Lehrer, Erzieher und Prediger der Mennoniten: Züge aus seinem Leben und Wirken. [Manitoba] : Manitoba Jugendorganisation der Mennoniten-Konferenz von Canada, 1945: 76-86.
Schaefer, Paul J. Heinrich H. Ewert : teacher, educator and minister of the Mennonites. Winnipeg : CMBC Publications, 1990.
Schmidt, Theodore. "The Mennonites of Nebraska." Graduate thesis, University of Nebraska, 1933: 45 ff.
Statuten fur den Mennonitischen Lehrerverein von Kansas (1886, 1910, 1925).
Cite This Article
Krahn, Cornelius. "Mennonite Teachers' Association (Kansas)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 2 Sep 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Mennonite_Teachers%27_Association_(Kansas)&oldid=121208.
Krahn, Cornelius. (1957). Mennonite Teachers' Association (Kansas). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 2 September 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Mennonite_Teachers%27_Association_(Kansas)&oldid=121208.
Herald Press website.
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