School History

photo of T. R. Smedberg

Who is T. R. Smedberg?

Theodore Roosevelt (known to all as Ted or T.R.) Smedberg came to Elk Grove High School as the principal in 1935. He served there for 13 years until 1948, when he took a position with the Sacramento County Schools Office. He was appointed Superintendent of Schools for Sacramento County in 1950 and stayed in that position until his retirement in 1969. Mr. Smedberg was a lifetime supporter of science activities for young people, and one of his proudest accomplishments was the establishment of the Sly Park outdoor education facility. A prominent Elk Grove resident, Mr. Smedberg was active in community affairs in Elk Grove and also has a park named for him.


Below is an excerpt from "My Career" written by T.R. "Ted" Smedberg

MEMORIES OF T.R. SMEDBERG (1921-1989)

Work to me is serious business. I recall shingling a barn in Reedley for 50 cents a day; every shingle was laid exactly where it should be, figured for both wind and rain. Later, I plowed a canal to free it of weeds and Bermuda grass using a team of horses. The team was paid $2.50; I got $1.50. I worked in a cannery in Reedley bringing in fruit boxes, eight at a time on a two-wheel cart. Do that for a week and one's Achilles tendon gets as sore as a boil, making it not only difficult to walk, but to sleep.

My first grade class numbered 28, four graduated from grammar school, two went on to high school, and one graduated. I went on to college at U.C. Berkeley. When I arrived, I found a job sweeping at Golden Gate Junior High School in Oakland, and received 50 cents an hour and was expected to complete the job in three hours.

My first teaching job was in Jackson, California. I often look back on one event that not only led to that job, but probably directed my entire career. I was working late one evening (about 9:30 p.m.) at Live Oaks, about ready to close up shop, when the phone rang. It was the principal of Jackson High School: "I understand you have a science (chemistry) major." We met in the White Cotton Hotel the next morning at 10:00 a.m. and by 10:30 a.m., I had signed my first teaching contact - for $1,850 (an extra $200 was added since I was expected to act as vice principal).

A year later, I was named principal of Jackson High School, and in the afternoon I handled the principal's duties, getting out in time to coach basketball. I can also remember looking forward to taking the graduating classes to Yosemite (my wife Irene, and I, no adults, and no liability insurance) from 1931 through 1935. Each youth was charged $5.00 and got back 75 cents when they returned. For five years, an average of 25 graduates took almost every hike in Yosemite, without so much as a twisted ankle.

I applied for the principalship of Elk Grove in 1935. There were a dozen or so applicants. We all sat outside the boardroom until 1:15 a.m. waiting for a decision to be made. Finally, out came P.B. Smith and announced that "You may all go home," not hesitating, "except the Smedbergs." Irene and I went into meet the board.


 

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