Celebrating Black History Month: Booker T. Washington


We shall prosper in proportion as we learn to
dignify and glorify labor and put brains and skill
into the common occupations of life.


Washington Goes to the Hampton Institute (Lower Intermediate)
In 1872, Washington quit his job in the Ruffners' home. He left for the Hampton Institute. The Hampton Institute was more than 300 miles from Malden, West Virginia, where he lived. To get there, Washington walked, hitched buggy rides from other travelers, and sometimes jumped railroad cars. Hungry and without money, Washington stopped in Richmond, Virginia, and worked on a ship until he had saved a little money.

He arrived in Hampton, Virginia, dirty and tired. He had no friends and little money. When he reached the Hampton Institute, he went in and found Miss Mackie, the head teacher. She looked at his appearance. Quickly she decided he was not the kind of student Hampton wanted. But she did not tell him to leave. So Washington stayed. About an hour later, she told him one of the classrooms needed to be swept.

Washington went to work. He swept the room three times. He mopped the floor. He dusted all of the furniture. He washed the walls. When Miss Mackie came in the room was spotless! She instantly hired Washington as the school's janitor. This job let Washington work his way through the Hampton Institute. Besides working many hours each week, Washington also studied hard. He graduated from Hampton in 1875. He was proud of his success.

After graduation, Washington returned to West Virginia. He taught there only a short time. Then, he was offered a teaching position at Hampton. Gladly, he returned. He taught at Hampton until 1881, when Hampton's founder recommended him as the head of a new school beginning in Alabama -- the Tuskegee Institute.

Do You Know These Words?
If you are not sure of the meanings of the following content words, click here to look them online.

appearance
decide
dust (verb)
founder
hitch (verb)

instantly
janitor
mop (verb)
success
position


Comprehension Questions

For Discussion . . .

For Further Study . . .
Time Management
Washington had to make wise use in order to work and study. For week, record how you use your time using the attached form. Next, highlight in pink each block of time where you have a daily or weekly commitment (i.e. class, private lesson, work, etc.). Then, highlight in yellow each block of time for which you have a regular plan (i.e. practicing the piano, doing homework, eating supper with family, etc.). Finally, review the remaining time. On average, how many free hours do you have each day? What do you generally do with this free time? How might it be used more effectively? Do you have a regular plan for completing chores, homework, and so forth? If not, how can you set aside specific blocks of time each day to ensure that you complete those things that must be done?

Write a brief paragraph evaluating your usage of time. In what ways are you pleased with your use of time? In which areas would you like to improve your use of time? What plans have you made to manage your time more effectively?


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