Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: February 22, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412957403 | Print ISBN: 9781412956642 | Online ISBN: 9781412957403| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Harris, William Torrey (1835–1909)
As a prominent urban school superintendent and U.S. Commissioner of Education in the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century, William Torrey Harris defined and addressed problems facing public education and in doing so helped establish the framework for educational administration as a profession. Born into a prosperous Connecticut farming family in 1835, Harris attended Yale College for 2 years before moving west for an uncertain future in St. Louis. He accepted a teaching position with the St. Louis public schools and soon became an elementary principal and then assistant superintendent. In 1867 he was elected superintendent, a position he held until he resigned in 1880. During his years as superintendent, St. Louis grew rapidly. Harris's lengthy, well-written annual school board reports using statistical data to describe district issues, support policy, and create pride in the St. Louis public schools set a new standard. They were read ...