Ewing Nathan Collette.
“What constitutes a school?
Not ancient halls and ivy-mantled towers
Where dull traditions rule
With heavy hand youth’s lightly springing powers;
But teachers strong and wise,
Who teach because they love the teacher ’s task
And find their richest prize
In eyes that open and in minds that ask;
And boys, with heart aglow,
To try their youthful vigor on their work,
Eager to learn and grow,
And quick to hate a coward or a shirk:
These constitute a school,
A vital forge of weapons keen and bright,
Where living sword and tool
Are tempered for true toil and noble fight.”
lines might have been penned by Professor Collette, so truly do they
express something of the modern point of view of the prominent
Oklahoma educator, whom Muskogee County now claims as superintendent
of public instruction. Few counties in the United States can boast of
having superintendents who have been not only college professors, but
also college presidents. In various ways have Muskogee and Muskogee
County gained benefit and prestige from the scholarly presence and
activity of Superintendent Collette.
The native home of
Ewing Nathan Collette was Warren County, Ohio, the date of his birth
being February 23, 1879. His parents, Hugh S. Collette and Mary
Maltbie Collette, removed in 1886 to Sedgwick County, Kansas. There
the future educator was reared among the wholesome interests of farm
life, mingled with regular attendance at the public schools. As time
passed, he found himself ready to enter at an early age one of the
excellent institutions for higher learning in the above mentioned
state and selected for his alma mater the University at Ottawa,
Kansas. There he was graduated in 1903, with the degree of Bachelor
of Philosophy. Such had been Mr. Collette’s standing in the
university that he was placed upon its faculty even while an
undergraduate. Having established such a reputation for reliable
scholarship, it was natural that he should be offered higher
positions in other schools of a similar class. He accepted a
professorship at Bacone College near Muskogee, Oklahoma, where he
became head of the Department of Science. That position he held from
1903 until 1907, when he was honored by appointment to the highest
office in the gift of the institution–that of president.
gave a careful and thorough supervision to the affairs of Bacone
College until he was asked to consider a wider field of educational
activity. This was
the superintendency of all the public schools of the county, a
position for which Mr. Collette was exceptionally well fitted, from
his thorough education, his experience in teaching and his superior
training as an executive, as well as because of his deep and broad
interest in all phases of psychology and the philosophy of education.
For three successive
terms has Superintendent Collette filled this important office, his
last election having occurred in 1914. He first entered upon the
duties of the position early in 1911 and his present term will expire
in 1917. Under his able supervision the public schools of Muskogee
have made rapid progress in many lines. Prominent among the
superintendent’s admirable policies is that of securing boards of
education composed of permanent residents. Another and related
achievement is that of securing teachers from whom more than one
year’s service in a given school may be expected. This is not only a
most beneficial practice to the school curricula and the individual
development of the students, but is also of value to the community in
helping to establish a poise and unity possible only in a locality
that is static and substantial in population.
Collette ranks among the state’s authorities on both biology and
psychology, having carried on research in both subjects in graduate
courses at the University of Chicago and other leading institutions.
Unlike many scholarly men, Professor Collette is gifted with a social
nature that delights in daily association with his fellowmen.
Fraternally he is a Knight of Pythias. Politically he is of
democratic theories in national economic questions, but is not a
partisan in local or state politics, being ever concerned with the
honor of the men and the practical worth of the measures at stake in
their relation to the greatest good of the greatest number. His
religious affiliation is with the Baptist Church.
A true companion to
her distinguished husband is Mrs. Collette. She was formerly Miss
Myrtle B. Hall, B. S., and is an alumnus of Ottawa University of the
class of 1904. The college acquaintanceship between Miss Hall and Mr.
Collette ripened into a romance which culminated in 1908, the year
following Professor Collette’s acceptance of the president’s chair in
Bacone University. Mrs. Collette became a member of the faculty of
which her husband was the head, continuing until his own withdrawal
to accept his present position. She too is a member of the First
Baptist Church of Muskogee, where her talents and her culture are
highly valued, as indeed they are in Muskogee’s social life. Mr. and
Mrs. Collette have one child, Helen Frances Collette.