September 9,1957:Educational TV Comes to Winston-Salem


On this day in 1957, students in three local high schools turned on the television for some of their lectures for the first time.

R. J. Reynolds, Atkins and Gray High Schools were the first local schools to receive their lessons via television.  They were three of the 55 junior and senior high schools in North Carolina participating in the unprecedented project.

Telecasts began at 9 a.m., and they were offered five days a week for the full 36 weeks of the school year.  A new term, “telepupils,” was coined to describe these students.  Initial subjects offered were American history, world history, general science, and arithmetic.

Governor Luther Hodges opened the first television class, speaking from the rotunda area at the Capitol.  WSJS Television played an important part in the telecasting set-up.

The classes were available to anyone who had a television, and Harold Essex, vice-president of Piedmont Publishing Company in charge of broadcasting, said that he expected many adult viewers to participate.

The television lesson will be preceded by lectures by the classroom teacher, and lectures will also be given afterwards.  Examinations will be given periodically on the material by the classroom teacher.

The photo above is a Philco television showroom in 1958, with Frank Butterfield introducing the latest Philco television model.

Photo courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection.

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