Author Topic: Remembering Fanny Meyer Hillers  (Read 4961 times)

Offline Long Ago

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Remembering Fanny Meyer Hillers
« on: October 31, 2015, 11:20:47 am »
Hello to all.  I am a retired teacher who attended Hackensack schools during the 1940s and 1950s.  Subsequently my career led me out of state, and unfortunately I havent been back to NJ for nearly fifty years.  The first school I went to was Longview Avenue elementary school, which at that time included kindergarten through sixth grade.  I was there before, during, and after the name change from Longview to Fanny Meyer Hillers school. 

Recently I had occasion to access the website of Hillers school, but when I checked out the Hillers History section of the site, I was astonished to find that there is barely any mention of Fanny Meyer Hillers herself.  The only reference I saw was the briefest of statements saying that the school was renamed in 1950 after an educator who had 41 years of service with Hackensack public schools. There is no indication that Mrs. Hillers even taught at the same school that now bears her name.  In my opinion, this is inadequate for a person who was once held in such high esteem that a school was named after her.

So, for anyone who may be interested, I will describe what I remember about Mrs. Hillers.  She was a very special person who taught kindergarten while I was at Longview, and it was said that she had been teaching at this school for a long time.  Thus, she was in a position to give positive direction to children during some of their most formative years.  Although I met her at a very young age, I have distinct memories of her as a rather thin elderly woman with boundless energy, optimism, and enthusiasm for everything she did.  She placed great emphasis on reading, and she once told me that if I practiced my reading each day I would learn more about the world.  She didnt forget her students either after they had completed kindergarten.  First grade was just down the hall from her classroom, and she would sometimes stop children she knew to ask them how they liked being in first grade and what they were learning.  She just never stopped caring about children. 

I didnt see as much of Mrs. Hillers after I entered second grade, as my classroom was located on a different floor, but I do remember one notable incident that occurred the following Spring.  I had become sick with a respiratory illness that turned into pneumonia, which was a very serious disease in those days.  I was home recuperating for nearly a month, and one day my Mom came to my room and told me I had a visitor.  When I looked up I saw Mrs. Hillers smiling at me from my doorway.  She had heard about my illness and had stopped by on her way home from school to see how I was doing.  No one from my second grade class had come to see me, but apparently Mrs. Hillers still remembered me.  She said she also brought me a couple of books to read from the school library when I felt up to it, but when I asked how many books she brought, she patiently explained to me that when she used the word couple it meant exactly two, and not a few as I had mistakenly assumed.  I remember her saying that I should always check a dictionary if I was unsure about the meaning of a word, and I never forgot that lesson from her.

It was possibly only a year or so later that Mrs. Hillers herself became ill with cancer and eventually passed away.  I was very sad when this happened, as Longview just didnt seem like quite the same place without her.  Later I remember my parents talking about a proposal to change the name of the school to Hillers school in her honor.  I liked the proposal because I thought then that people would always remember her, but now that so many years have gone by, it seems to me that most people today dont really know who the person was behind the name.  If I may make a suggestion, I think it would be beneficial for someone at Hillers school to do a little research and compile a brief biography of this remarkable person and include it as part of the Hillers school website.









Offline Chief Oratam

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Re: Remembering Fanny Meyer Hillers
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2015, 09:52:54 pm »
Thank You for sharing.... I have often wondered, She sounds like a wonderful  teacher, FMH was a great school to grow up in... not to take away from her and or your story.. But FMH had many good teachers over the years, ....i.e. Mr.Fox.,Mrs Layers.. for 2, it's a long time ago,  but many more. We were fortunate, for sure..

I Hope they never want to  change the name...

Offline just watching

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Re: Remembering Fanny Meyer Hillers
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2015, 01:28:39 am »
Thank you for the posting. 

As I have said before on this site, it seems that the 1940's through 1960's are a time period in which history was not properly written down.  More is known about earlier decades.

Offline Top of the Hill

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Re: Remembering Fanny Meyer Hillers
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2015, 02:30:18 pm »
Hillers was a great school. I had Mr. Fox for my 5th grade teacher in 1969. A great teacher and person. Other teachers I remember were Mr. Wilson and Mr. Decter. I think Mr. Parino taught Art there at some time during my years there. There was also a custodian named Charlie. He was tall and thin, was there a long time I believe. Really nice guy. Friends with everybody. He would sometimes let us in the gym after school or on an occasional Saturday. That couldn't happen today, too much liability. Simpler times. Mr. Kaminsky was the Principal. Remember that scene in "A Christmas Story" when Flick licked the flagpole and his tongue got stuck to it? That happened one year to a student. He pulled his tongue off and there was blood everywhere in the snow. It was horrifying for us little kids. I'm sure he lost a miniscule of blood, but seeing it on the snow freaked everybody out.

Offline Long Ago

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Re: Remembering Fanny Meyer Hillers
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2015, 05:32:33 pm »
Hi Chief Oratam,

The purpose of my original post was to describe Mrs. Hillers to those who may have forgotten her or simply didnt know much about her.  Although I only knew her for a few years at the end of her long and successful career, I was hoping my recollections might help to explain why some people once held her in such high regard.

It was certainly not my intent to suggest that there werent other good teachers at Longview besides Mrs. Hillers, as there certainly were.  Some teachers that come to mind are Miss Fallon, Miss Zito, and Mrs. Dodge.

Your mention of Mrs. Layers rekindled some fond memories for me, as I do remember her.  She was one of the third grade teachers when I was at Longview, but I was not in her classroom.  Rather, I knew her from attending several cub scout den meetings that she hosted at her house, and I always thought she was such a kind and generous person.  :)

Offline Chief Oratam

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Re: Remembering Fanny Meyer Hillers
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2015, 07:58:18 pm »
Long Ago,
I meant no harm, I was just adding to your original post, There was no attitude behind my words. That's what we do around  here add our thoughts and memories. ..

I liked your post so much , I gave you a point for good karma..

« Last Edit: November 02, 2015, 08:03:22 pm by Chief Oratam »

Offline Long Ago

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Re: Remembering Fanny Meyer Hillers
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2015, 04:52:45 pm »
Hi again Chief,

Thanks for your latest response and for your very kind words.  Im glad you liked the info about Mrs. Hillers.

I did not think you had an attitude or anything of that sort.  When I reread my post, I saw that Id said that Longview wasnt quite the same place without Mrs. Hillers, and I didnt want anyone thinking I was inferring that other teachers didnt compare favorably to her.

I really liked all of my teachers at Longview, and while I was there they had to function under some very trying circumstances.  All of my classrooms were overcrowded, and facilities were still strained even after the new wing was added behind the main school building.  Teachers were in short supply and were sometimes transferred between grades.  My 4th grade teacher, for example, used to teach 2nd grade.  I actually had the same teacher for both 5th and 6th grades, which I didnt think was such a good idea but it was apparently deemed to be necessary.  To top it all, my 6th grade class was held for the entire school year in a temporary area that was partitioned off in the SW corner of the school auditorium.  Through it all, the teachers performed admirably and I was well satisfied with what they were able to accomplish.