Bio: Helbling, Cora (Retiring - 1978)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Helbling, Gutknecht

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 6/01/1978

Helbling, Cora (Retiring - 1978)

Cora Helbling, Merrillan Elementary School principal and first grade teacher, will retire at the end of the school year.

Mrs. Helbling was also the last Jackson County Superintendent of School, serving from 1958 until the office was abolished by the state in 1965. At that time, the duties of county school superintendent were incorporated into the C.E.S.A. program.

The former Cora Gutknecht began her teaching career in the fall of 1932 at the Papoose Creek School in rural Jackson County following graduation from the Black River Falls High School and a teacher training course there. She remained at Papoose Creek four years, teaching grades one through eight. Then she taught first grade at Pleasant View near Black River Falls for seven years.

Her next school was the Merrillan Elementary where she has always taught first grade and at times a combination of first and second grade.

She has been principal at Merrillan since returning in 1965. “Miss Helbling” as most of students refer to her, has seen many changes during her 46-year career.

“When I began teaching in 1932, I never dreamed I would ever go swimming with my students,” she said. “But this past year, I accompanied my first graders to the new swimming pool at the Lincoln High School in Alma Center and assisted with two-hour lessons for nine weeks. I enjoyed as much as they did.”

Another drastic change is “teachers being allowed to wear slacks while teaching,” she commented.

Mrs. Helbling said her greatest enjoyment in teaching is to see her many former students become successful adults, including ministers, lawyers, teachers and several police officers.

“I have tried to practice kindness and understanding with my pupils,” she said. “I have also had the cooperation of the parents and the people in the community in guiding the children.”

Mrs. Helbling has been asked to return to Merrillan School next year as a teacher’s aide. With the falling enrollment, her position will not be filled this next school year. There are two other first-grade teachers at Merrillan.



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