One-Room Country Schools

Recently I wrote a short “memory” piece about my one-room country school at Sand Springs, MT, for an author friend who is putting together a book on the subject. It was a fun trip down memory lane.

Heidi 2nd grade

When I was almost six years old, there were no kids of school age in the area and no school closer than twenty or thirty miles away. I was so eager to learn to read and write that my parents consulted the county superintendent of schools who recommended teaching me to read from the “Mac and Muff” pre-primer series. I was in seventh heaven! Now I could read and write my own books!

 

By that next summer of 1956 the Joe Dutton family moved to Sand Springs and bought the general store. They had four children, three of school age, so the neighbors got together, formed a school board, and hired a teacher, Susie Huston from the Brusett, MT area. There had been a school at Sand Springs in the past, and the parents pitched in to clean and fix up the schoolhouse, which was in the middle of a field about a quarter mile from the store. A coatroom was converted into a “teacherage”—living quarters for the teacher with a bed, dresser, and a stove. Later the schoolhouse was moved across the highway when a new store building was built, and a small two-room building was constructed next to the school for the teacher to live in.

I started school with one boy with me in the first grade, one in the third, and a girl in the fourth. For several years, we four were the only students. The largest school population was during my brother’s time in the early ‘60s, with twelve students.

I have fond memories of “Huston,” as she preferred to be called, teaching us in innovative ways—board games for math, “Go-Fish” type card games for vocabulary words, and pictures she cut out from magazines as writing prompts. Listening to the upper grade students also piqued my interest and spurred my quest for learning. When I reached upper grades, I helped the younger kids with their studies. Huston taught there for three years.

Sand Springs School 1

Photo courtesy The Missoulian

Apparently the school population has come full circle, according to Sandy Gibson, Postmistress and owner of the Sand Springs Store, once again with four students, who have a male teacher and attend four days a week. Innovation teaching is still the “norm” with “lots of hands-on” projects, such as planting and caring for trees and a bow-and-arrow class.

North-Central Arizona, where I live now, also has a still-operating one-room school at Crown King—celebrating 100 years of teaching K-8 this year. Only one other such school in Arizona is located at Apache near Douglas. Crown King has 11 students, with one teacher, and was featured in the August/September issue of Prescott Woman Magazine. http://prescottwomanmagazine.com/aug-sept2017/

 

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Published in: on September 30, 2017 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Round Robin: Jo March, A Most Memorable Character

Welcome to this Round Robin blog hop. Our topic this month is a character that wouldn’t leave our minds long after we’ve read a book.

Little WomenJo March from Little Women is a memorable character for me. I loved the book and all the characters. Each was an example of strength and resilience in the face of hardship and adversity.

But Jo stands out to me, first of course because she was a writer. Despite disapproval of her chosen avocation, she perseveres, and eventually writes and publishes a book about her family.

I identify with her also because she was quite independent—nobody tells her what she “must” do, and because she wasLIttle Men a “tomboy.” I was raised on a ranch and followed my dad around, helped him ride and do various ranch and farm chores. In our isolated community I didn’t have other girls my age to pal around with and I was six years older than my brother. So I made up my own stories, imaginary playmates, and fun.

It’s been many years since I’ve read Little Women, Little men and Jo’s Boys, but maybe it’s time to go back an revisit my memorable character!

Please hop over to these blogs for other memorable characters:

Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

 

Published in: on September 23, 2017 at 2:00 pm  Comments (7)  
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Harpies & Gray Birds of Loneliness

angel & devilDo you feel like you have that devil on your shoulder when you write?—the one who says, “This is crap, utter nonsense, never should be published.”

You are not alone. Back in the years when I was writing freelance magazine articles, I heard that negative voice every time I had an article published. “Oh, that was just a fluke. You’ll never write another one worthy of publishing.”

And now, even though I’ve had five books published, I get bogged down in the rewrite of my sixth one, and continually hear the voice say, “You probably shouldn’t publish this one. Just give up on it. Nobody likes your character, she’s self-centered and whiny. You can’t fix it. Forget about it.”

Some days I listen to the negative voice and say, “OK. I’m just going to chuck this book.” But other days I think, No, you’ve done this before. You know what to do. Keep on plugging away. You’ll get there!

While it’s not comfortable, it’s good to know others struggle with the same negativity. My author friend and multi-published author, Jane Kirkpatrick, calls the voices her “harpies.”

grey birdJane Friedman recently wrote a blog titled “Creation and Doubt are Enjoined Twins.” She also references an article by Devin Murphy in Glimmer Train, “The Gray Birds of Loneliness,” where he talks about John Steinbeck’s negative, critical voices. This is from widely acclaimed authors.

No, we are not alone!

I hope we all can recognize this element of our writing personalities and balance it out with the positive voice of the angel on the other shoulder, telling us, “You can do it. You have the talent, the skill, and the perseverance. Don’t give up!”

Published in: on September 4, 2017 at 8:47 pm  Comments (1)  
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