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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