Josephine Corliss Preston

Josephine Corliss Preston, born in 1873 began teaching at 14 and grew to appreciate firsthand the struggles of rural and immigrant children in relation to their education. At 19, she moved to Waitsburg  Washington, and after marrying in 1893, she became Assistant County Superintendent and elected as the Walla Walla County School Superintendent six times. In 1912, just two years after earning the right to vote, Ms. Preston became the first woman elected as the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, a post she held for 16 years. During her tenure, Ms. Preston worked for rural education and teachers. In 1919, she served as President of the National Education Association, the third woman to hold the position, and as the Council of Chief State Officers president. Ms. Preston fought for rural schools, teacher standards, and vocational education. Josephine brought about the establishment of kindergartens, hot lunch programs, transportation to schools, and junior high schools. Ms. Preston worked to ensure “The public school system reflects the needs of people of the Commonwealth”