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.”
—Van Dyke.

The above-quoted 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.
President Collette 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.
Superintendent 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.