Woman of the Century/Anna Bowman Dodd
DODGE, Miss Grace Hoadley, philanthropist and educational reformer, born in New York City, in 1856 With large wealth and high social position, Miss Dodge has devoted much of her time to works of charity in her native city. In 1886 she was appointed a school commissioner on the New York school board, in company with Mrs. Agnew. Her work in that position fully justified the new movement that called for women members of that board. On entering her new field of labor she said: "I came into the board of education with three distinct objects in view, to remember my oath of office, which means to sustain the manual of the board of education ; to consider for the 200,000 children in the public schools what is wisest and best for them ; to be loyal to the 4,000 teachers, and to think of myself as the especial representative of 3,500 women teachers." Immediately after appointment Miss Dodge and Mrs. Agnew made a study of the manual, of methods in this country and in others, of books, buildings, school furniture and apparatus, discipline and all that pertains to schools and teaching, and Miss Dodge gave to these duties almost her entire time, and accomplished an unprecedented amount of work. She visited, with more or less frequency, every day school in the city, 132 in number, and the thirty-nine evening schools, became acquainted as far as possible with every teacher and principal, studied the conditions and necessities of each school, and made careful notes for reports. The committees on which she served were those on auditing, on school books and courses of study, on school furniture, on sites and new schools, and on evening schools, and the reports which were made while she was a member of those committees were peculiarly interesting and important, and several of them have been the means of great and significant changes. When there are added to the duties already mentioned an attendance at school-board meetings twice a month, the sessions often lasting from four to eight o'clock, semi-weekly committee meetings, and a half day on Saturday, which Miss Dodge devotes to the reception of teachers in her private office in her home on Madison Avenue, when she hears their grievances and gives them advice, it will be understood that not only were the regular duties of the position onerous, but the gratuitous and self-imposed ones were far from light. It was due conspicuously to Miss Dodge's influence that, in spite of opposition. manual training has been introduced into the schools in part. She secured relief for certain over-crowded primary and grammar schools. She succeeded in having the school board continue the evening schools for girls, and she aided in correcting the plan of apportioning the salaries of teachers and of holding examinations for certificates. In every way the presence and work of Miss Dodge and Mrs. Agnew were a benefit to the cause of education in New York. Besides her regular school work, Miss Dodge has done a good deal of philanthropic and educational work in New York. Her charitable labor has been based not on theory, but on practical knowledge of the conditions of the working people, gained by personal contact with them. Of this the proofs are the large number of working- girls' clubs, of which she is the founder, a movement of which she was the leader, and which has spread throughout the country, and the New York College for Training Teachers, of which she was the inaugurator. Observation convinced her that the needy should be helped to help themselves, and that was the origin of her interest in education, which dates back a considerable time before she was invited to serve on the board of education. She was an active member of the board of the State Charities Aid Association, and has been connected with hospitals, a training school for nurses, and is a trustee of the Medical College for Female Physicians.