Header Graphic
High School a Different Way

This article originally appeared in Dayton, USA magazine, January 1965




     The opportunity to earn, learn and continue in school means a high school education for many youths who otherwise would not have had the advantage, and provides Dayton with thousands of highly skilled workers.  This is the principle on which John H. Patterson brought co-operative education to Dayton.

     “Patterson, president of National Cash Register (NCR) at the time, was instrumental in the development of the co-operative idea in Dayton—a great contribution to the community,” according to Robert E. Kline, president of the Dayton Board of Education.

     Kline is familiar with Patterson co-operative high school through his work on the Board of Education.  As director of educational training at NCR he is able to see the great potential the school offers the community.  NCR was the first firm providing on-the-job experience and now employs 108 Co-op students.  These students are hired under the supervision of Kline and he says, “Many continue to work for us after they have completed their high school education.  When they prove themselves on their Co-op job, there is usually a job for them at NCR when they graduate.”

     From the first Co-op class of 40 in 1914—and that first firm taking part in the Co-operative plan—this Golden anniversary year shows a 30-fold increase, or a total of 1200 students in 1964.

     These 1200 students are applying the philosophy that some phases of vocational skill and information requirements may be learned best in school while others should be learned on the job.  Jacob Fullmer, a graduate of that first class, says, “we applied math in school by solving problems we had in our shop experiences.”  He remembers the beginning of the Co-operative plan as a few classes located in the Stivers high school building.  “Although the co-operative school was a separate school, Stivers’ administration recognized it as a department of Stivers.  We received a Stivers’ diploma,” says Fullmer.

     His affiliation with the co-operative school was a result of his job at NCR.  He started at NCR in the brass room as an errand boy but noticed the pattern of promotion.  “All the foremen seemed to come from the tool room—so---I decided to become a foreman.  I needed to work in the tool room.  I took a cut in pay and worked there a short time when they told me I would attend Co-op or find another job.  The company was so concerned with their training program the officers felt employees should receive more education if money was to be invested in their apprenticeship.”

     Fullmer took advantage of this opportunity and says, “The co-operative plan made it possible for me to finance this high school and technical education.  The school made subsequent opportunities possible for me.”

     He remembers Clare G. Sharkey who was named principal in 1915 and served until he retired in 1947.  Fullmer describes Sharkey as “a person who had a great feeling for people planning to do the work of the world—someone with a tremendous drive.  He stayed close to his advisory committee and coordinators in the area plants.”

     Fullmer, reminiscing those co-operative days in the Stivers’ building, remembers the move to First and St. Clair streets in 1929.  The school became known as the Dayton Co-operative high school although it was in the former Parker building.  At this same time students incorporated Parker into their cheers and referred to the school as Parker Co-operative, but the official name was Dayton Co-operative.  While the old Parker building was being torn down in 1952 the school temporarily held classes in Steele high school.  The school moved into its new home at First and St. Clair streets on March 24, 1954 and the name was changed to the Patterson Co-operative high school in honor of one of the co-founders—John H. Patterson.

     Patterson’s interest in education started with his night school for NCR employees.  He was in Germany on a business trip when he saw the co-operative plan at work and decided it would be good for Dayton.

     The plan proposed for Dayton was first a Continuation school (later called the Trade Extension school) for boys, on a four hour-per-week basis on factory time.  Instructions in the related subjects of drafting, blue print reading, shop science and shop mathematics were offered.  It was followed by the co-operative high school with its several courses in metal trades.  These were organized on a plan which provided for alternating a full week on the job with a full week in school.

     Patterson and his committee with the backing of Col. E. A. Deeds and Charles F. Kettering approached the Board of Education.  They offered to finance 50 per cent of the proposed vocational school.

     Edwin J. Brown, superintendent of the Dayton public schools worked with these industrial leaders to start the co-operative high school; he and Patterson were co-founders of the school.

     The conception of vocational education was not original with the Dayton founders.  The plan seems to have been evolved by Dr. George Kirschensteiner, who became superintendent of schools in Munich, Germany in 1895.  Kirschensteiner sums up his philosophy in this phrase:

     “The final goal of all public schools which are supported by public funds is the training of the pupils to be useful citizens.  The first task of the school is the promotion as far as may be, of the skill as well as joy of work of the pupils. The second task is the early accustoming of the pupil to placing his joy and skill in work in the service of his companions and fellowmen as well as of his own.”

     “Through the test of time, these 50 years, the co-operative idea has sold itself to the community on the basis of what it has done for those who have gone through it.  By the community I mean Dayton, the people and local industries,” Says Fullmer.

     “The school through the apprentice trade extension program has been serving industry of the community with related training for apprentices one afternoon each week at the school,” says Paul Weismann, apprentice coordinator in educational training at NCR.  When the apprentice graduates from high school his education is not finished.  Until his four year apprenticeship is completed, he attends trade extension school  a half day each week.  “If we didn’t have Patterson Co-op, this training would be done in the plant, but we feel the opportunity to have our apprentices learn with other apprentices from local industries broadens their educational experience,” says  Weismann.

     “Forward-looking Daytonians have helped make Patterson Co-op the leading co-operative school in the nation—both in adult education and high school vocational-technical education—and as a result of this the first all school homecoming was held April 11, 1964, according to Howard Massman (1926).  He is now printing trades coordinator.

     The class of 1964 selected as its first alumni project the securing of funds with which to help celebrate the Golden anniversary.  The first official member of the Boosters club was Arthur M. Modler now automotive division instructor at the school; who was a student when the school opened in 1914.

     “The school had a little history before that 1914 year.  In the fall of 1913 a group of boys employed full time attended school classes in the Y. M. C. A. four hours each week,” says C. B Hurst, principal.

     The second year (1915) the enrollment in the Co-operative high school jumped to 83 and an additional teacher was added.

     The school had been started with the original intention of increasing the number of skilled tool makers.  Modler says and he continues by explaining, “There was a shortage of skilled tool makers—we had tool makers but not the quality needed.”

     “From that small beginning to the present, Patterson Co-operative high school has grown to the largest institution in the United States offering practical vocational instruction following the Co-operative work-study plan and bestowing upon its graduates a ‘first grade’ high school diploma.  The longer school year has made it possible for the student to cover essentially the same content in the general school subject while securing practical vocational and technical experience, according to Hurst.

     “Each student selects in advance the vocational field which he wishes to enter.  He is interviewed by the coordinator in this field.  The coordinator, after complete study of the student’s previous school record, analysis of test results, and evaluation of the student from the interview recommends either acceptance into the program or that the student enter some other program,” says Hurst.

     Modler has fond memories of those first years.  “It was a grand opportunity for me, it gave me an opportunity to help my family and continue in school.  Gosh, I was making $9.18 a week…” It was his first job at 17 cents an hour—he worked 54 hours a week.  Those wanting to attend the school were expected to find a job on their own because the school didn’t have coordinators to do it for the students.

     “When I went to apply for that first job at NCR I was shaking in my shoes—but managed to tell the supervisor of apprentices that I wanted to become a tool maker.  He looked up at the large chandelier of detailed gold and asked if I wanted to make a machine that made the chandelier.  I finally managed a ‘yes sir.’  I hadn’t stopped to consider the precision tool that made the beautiful light fixture before,” Modler says.

     Modler and other members of that first class in 1917, graduated with the regular high school class in June but were presented blank diplomas.  In August after their work was completed, they were given their signed diplomas.

     The combination of in-school and on-the-job experience is desirable for a total educational experience and as Massman says, “The doors have always been open for training beyond to Patterson high school graduates.”

     Many graduates hold important positions in Dayton industries and in all parts of the United States, and many are successful tradesmen and leaders in their chosen fields.  Frank Ossenberg, retired machine trades coordinator, recalls some of these former Patterson graduates—included are: Calvin Werner, vice president of General Motors Corporation and general manager of G. M. C. truck division; Eugene C. Nowak, treasurer of National Cash Register; Norman Gebhart, general manager of the local Delco-Moraine Division of General Motors Corporation; James Mahlstrom, vice president and geneeral manager of Koehler Aircraft Products; Ralph Francisco, production manager of  the U. S. News and World Report magazine at McCalls; Edmund Schweller, assistant chief engineer, Frigidaire division of General Motors; Richard G. Mattern, founder and president, R. G. Mattern Inc., contractors-sewer construction; Stanley Copp, Copp Radio Laboratories; Harry Strachon, founder and owner of a pattern shop in Springfield (one time mayor of Springfield); Mark E. Rasper, director of sales and engineering, Delco-Moraine Division of General Motors Corporation; Dr. Ted Light, physician and vice president of the Board of Education.

     Patterson students train for careers in tool design, foremanship, secretarial positions, merchandise buying and management of their alternating two week work and school attendance periods.  The school population is divided into two groups with one attending school while the other is working.

     “The 10 areas of specialized courses now offered include automotive, business or office education, distributive or selling, drafting, electrical, medical arts and science, machine trades, printing trades, sheet metal, air conditioning and accounting.  The future for Patterson Co-operative high school includes the addition of more areas of instruction.  Areas now being studied include cosmetology, welding, radio-television service and repair, household appliance service and repair.

     The proposals for expanding the vocational education program include a post high school two year industrial technology program.  Industrial technology is designed for students who are interested in the manufacturing phase of industry.  The industrial technology program would be conducted in the John H. Patterson high school building from 3:15 to 9:15 p.m., daily and the night school would be moved to another high school.

     With the Co-operative idea established 50 years ago and accepted, its main purpose will remain to provide an opportunity for Daytonians—high school students—to earn, learn and provide Dayton with highly skilled workers.