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district signed a petition rejecting the district school. In the face of this opposition and on the advice of the Superintendent of Education, the municipality dropped the issue. 66
Along with the formation of new school districts, another new development was the creation of a Mennonite teacher training school in Gretna. By the late 1880's a number of progressive Mennonites, feeling that accommodation to Canadian society and the learning of English was a necessity, opened a school in Gretna to train prospective teachers. This group, led by Bishop Johann Funk of the West Reserve Bergthaler Church, felt that the quality of Mennonite education was declining and that schools needed more qualified teachers.
This view of Mennonite schools did not go uncontested. The majority of Bishop Johann Funk's Church did not support him on the school question and later split from the church over this issue. While the Reinlaender Mennonite Church stayed aloof from the fight over the MEl, it vehemently denied that private Mennonite schools were not performing satisfactorily." At issue was the type of society each group envisaged for the Mennonites of Rhineland. The Reinlaender and other conservative groups saw education as preparation for an agricultural life in a religious, closed society. In this schema, higher education was not only seen as unnecessary but dangerous.
The school society in Gretna did not accept this view and erected a three storey school in Gretna in 1889. By September of that year, William Rempel had been hired as a teacher and was teaching a class of 60. Finding the task of teaching a disparate group of students with a wide range of abilities too difficult, Rempel resigned after one year and the school closed.
At this point the Government of Manitoba, interested in keeping the school operating, approached the school society and suggested that a teacher be hired by both the society and the government to teach the teacher training course and act as school inspector for the Mennonite district schools. The society agreed to this proposal and Dr. George Bryce, ofthe Department of Education, travelled to Kansas to recruit H. H. Ewert, a teacher among the Mennonites there. Ewert accepted the task and reopened the Normal School in Gretna in 1891.
This school was incorporated as the Mennonite Educational In stitute in 1893. With an enrollment of eight, Ewert began training teachers for the many elementary schools in the Mennonite Reserves. Registration eventually rose to forty, though actual attendance never exceeded 28 before 1900.68
Ewert's vision of preparing the Mennonite youths for life in modern Canadian society, while maintaining their Mennonite heritage