School Days

Stacey KayneMy oldest boy graduated from the 8th grade tonight–this academic milestone was a fun celebration with friends and family. Because my wandering mind dwells in a time warp 🙂 I couldn’t help but think how very far education had come in just a few generations. Each year the bar seems to be raised higher. The changes I’ve seen over twenty years has been astonishing.  My boys are tackling subjects in middle school I didn’t start until midway through high school, algebra, geometry, life science… In my day, if you went to school and passed your classes, you received a diploma.  Here in California good attendance and good grades aren’t enough to earn a high school diploma, students also have to pass a high school exit exam. 

Organized public education didn’t exist until the mid nineteenth century.  In 1840’s reformers fought hard to standardize public education across the states. They believed education could preserve social stability and prevent crime and poverty. Taxes were collected in communities to fund schoolhouses and teachers. The 19th Century became known as the “The Common School Period”–during this era schools went from being completely private to being available to the common masses. 

My husband’s grandmother was a schoolteacher in the early 1900’s. In her day completing the tenth grade could qualify a young lady as a schoolteacher. She was just such a teacher in a one-room classroom in rural Wisconsin. On a romantic note, my hubby’s grandfather lived on the farm directly across the road from this school. It wasn’t long before the young Irish schoolmarm caught his eye and his heart. She continued to teach throughout her life.

The advances in education since the days of our grandparents is mind-boggling! Schooling continues to become more extensive and more expensive as employment becomes more and more competitive. All the more reason to celebrate each step on this long journey to higher learning and what we pray will be fun memories and bright futures 🙂  

CHEERS and CONGRATS to all the ’08 graduates!! 

When I think back on my school days one memory that stands out is the day my fifth grade class walked to our teacher’s house who lived a block from the school to watch the inauguration of President Reagan–and drink hot chocolate!  I love a story my mom tells about a field trip her class took into the hills in middle school–a nature walk–and nature ventured a little too close when a squirrel raced down a tree and right between her feet.  She fainted, and her classmates teased her through the rest of her school days. Probably not her fondest memory, but a vivid one 😉

How about you?  Any fond, vivid or fun school-days memories you’d care to share?

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29 thoughts on “School Days”

  1. Congrats to your son, and going into highschool. My oldest just went in highschool this year my youngest is in 5th going into middle school. Wow, it’s a little sad their growing up right in front of us. I want to brag a min. Pricillia(my youngerst) scored the highest in her class this year stayed on the Principal list all year got a trophy for Principal list for 3rd,4th and 5th grade voted best student by her classmates, perfect attendance,and for excelerated math. we’re getting her a Pug puppy she wanted. I sent a comment on- I believe Linda’s blog the other day about our field trip to Shackleford Banks and seeing the Wild Horses, we were on the island with them and it was INCREDABLE I will never forget that experience!! I have nothing exciting to tell from my own field trips it was nothing like that. I’m still gonna sent you some pictures of them when my Hub’s will download them for me.

  2. Stacey,
    Congrats on your son’s achievement and graduation. Looks like a wonderful ceremony with family and friends! It’s amazing how fast they grow up, isn’t it? Can you believe he’ll be in high school soon?

    I’m fascinated too about how our school system came to be. I love schoolmarm stories, especially your honest-to-goodness one about your husband’s grandmother and father. How sweet!

  3. I went to a one room country school house, except for highschool, where I was in a class of 34.
    My children went to a one room country school, too.
    I remember one of my daughters going with a friend, who was attending law school in … some unnamed status-y east coast college. My daughter had just graduated and gotten a really good job. Found a roommate, rented an apartment.
    She went to this school and was surrounded by all these rich kids. ‘Kids’ getting their law degree, even though they already had a MBA…with their rich parents footing all the bills for college and flashy cars (She was driving a ten year old cavalier she’d gotten used in high school) and fancy clothes. (she mainly dressed out of WalMart, though I recall her blue jeans cost a lot)
    And she thought, ‘Has anyone in this room ever had to make the rent? Have they ever gone to the grocery store and waffled between a better cut of meat but for a dollar more a pound…and chosen the cheap cut? Have they ever once in their LIVES though, wow, I need to get out of college and GET A JOB!!!!!!!
    She went on for a master’s degree, but her new job paid for it. That was a huge incentive for her to take the job. She was LOOKING for a way to pay her tuition. EXCITED that she’d found a way. And it took five years to get her MBA at night instead of two going full time on Daddy’s dime.

    And what hit her was, these status-y kids, who would never for a second care about turning the air conditioning down to save on the utility bill, were the sons of sons of sons of sons of the ‘elite’ in this country. These out of touch, but very smart, students who didn’t need work, were going to be the ones running our country some day.

    Sure there are regular kids who worked like crazy and are brilliant and go deeply in debt at Ivy League Schools. But there are a lot of spoiled rich elites there who don’t even understand how this country works.
    And they’re in charge.
    Pretty annoying.

  4. Wow, I got a little cranky with that one, huh? 🙂

    Okay, calming down…I started school with four classmates in a country school house. Going to country school was a very unique and special experience. I don’t think I even now understand quite how different it is, because it was all I knew and my kids had the same experience.

    By 8th grade, one by one, my class mates had moved to town and I was alone in my grade. Best friends with the two girls a year younger who were alone in their grade and with my sister, a year older, who had one girl in her grade.
    We all just played outside for recess. We ran adn played tag and sat outside when it was nice to eat lunch and played in the school basement in the winter. There was a ‘barn’ which was still there from the day students rode their horses to school.
    We walked to school everyday, a half mile…uphill both ways. (I had to say that. 🙂 )
    In the coldest days of winter, there was a snow drift that would fill in and block our road, caused by a wind break on the west side of our house and the house across the road.
    Road maintenance crews weren’t quite as speedy in those days so once the drift was there, they had a real…we’re not digging that out until we’re sure it’s not going to snow again…attitude.

    So our neighbor…my best friend’s father…just drove through his field and parked his car on the road on past the snow drift and every day we’d have to climb that drift, then Don would drive us to school. It was a routine part of winter.

    My dad went to the same country school as I did and he lived more like a mile and a half away and he road a horse to school everyday. He said it was an evil pony who lived to torment him and if it had half a chance it’d slip it’s ties and run home during the day. So he walked home from school a lot, too. 🙂

  5. Hi, Stacey. I love reading about the old days in the schools and in particular about schoolmarms. I recently retired from teaching kindergarten and first grade for 30 years. What a fun adventure that was, but I am sure it was nothing compared to the challenges of a one-room schoolhouse with all ages.It is true that demands on children are coming at an earlier age. Kindergarten has become more like what first grade used to be. Kids are expected to know much more at earlier ages now. I also hate that we have become obsessed with testing. Some of the spontaneity and plain joy in teaching and learning is sacrified to prepare for the big test.

    On another note, I just finished reading “The Gunslinger’s Untamed Bride” which I won from you here at P and P. I loved the book! You had me hooked at the first chapter…heck, the first page! Juniper and Lily were a very entertaining couple. Will they be revisited at all in the 3rd book in the Bride series? I would love to get an update on them.

  6. Hi Stacey,

    Congrats on your son’s graduation from eighth grade! Wow, how neat. One day it seems they’re in diapers and next they’re all grown up.

    What interesting tidbits about school and teachers. I have two vivid memories of school. One was when Glen Shephard went up in space and circled the earth once before he came back down. My teacher brought a TV into the classroom and we got to watch the coverage. I can’t remember what grade I was in. I think I was in junior high.

    Then another very vivid, very sad memory was when President Kennedy was shot. I was sitting in my 10th grade home ec class when an announcement came over the speaker. I had this raw hurt inside that someone would steal the life of such a vibrant man. The country needed him. I felt a personal loss as if someone in my family had died. After the announcement there was utter silence except for sounds of students crying. No one was saying a word. School was let out early and I went home in total shock. Such a tragedy.

    Thanks for the post. I enjoyed it!!

  7. Hi Stacey, congrats on your son’s graduation. And hold on–high school and college will be here before you know it.

    My great-grampa was a schoolteacher in the late 1800’s when the boys sat on one side, the girls on another. We’ve still got the schoolbell he rang for recess. Guess it rubbed off…Mom and I were schoolteachers, too.

    But the best part of teaching (I’m ashamed to admit it LOL) was the month of May…because it meant school was almost out. Yay.

  8. Congrats Stacey! This is such good news. You must feel very very proud, and I am so happy for you. Such tremendous information as well. Great post.

    I only wish that all such California schools were so good as those that you children are attending. I used to work for a literacy project here on Hollywood Blvd. in So. CA, and I was appalled at how much those kids weren’t learning, including reading and writing. We had personal tutors there and we worked really, really hard to help these students who were learning practically everything in the public schools but reading and writing and basic arithmatic. It was very easy actually to teach them reading and writing and I used to wonder why the schools were falling so far behind in this regard.

    And here’s a fact so few people know. In the old days most children were home schooled and those people were highly educated — so much so that I have a hard time reading and understanding the writings from that time period. And another little know fact is that back in about 1848 or so Karl Marx and Frederick Engels (not sure on the spelling of these names) wrote the Communist Manifesto giving 10 planks to mark whether or not a country was Communist or not. One of those planks was a mandatory public education system that was government controlled in terms of what’s taught and what’s not taught, what’s printed and what’s not printed. It;s almost frightening to me — when I used to work at this literacy project (H.E.L.P –Hollywood Education and Literacy Project) it became very clear to me that this plank of the Communist Manifesto was alive and well in the So, CA system. It is very scary to me, so it is such good news to see some of the public education going so well. Thanks Stacey.

  9. Hi Lori! Thank you, and WOW!! Major congratulations to you and your daughter!!! How special for her to be honored by her shcool and classmates 🙂 And how exciting to watch your child excell 😀 Last night a girl received an award and flowers for never missing a single day of school since kindergarden. We were happy our boys didn’t miss more than 15 days this year 😉

  10. You are so right, Charlene—I swear time speeds up every year 😉 I can’t believe we only have four years to college—ack!! Any baby is just a year behind his brother.

    Schoolmarm stories really helped propel my interest in westerns 😉 My step mom ran a retirement home, tending to four older ladies in her home, two of them nearly 100 years old, both had been schoolteachers in their youth and had classrooms right next to one another for years–and then ended up in the same assisted-living home. The stories they told fascinated me 🙂

  11. Wow, Mary, that is a wild school history!! Thanks for sharing 😀 I think there is a lot to be gained in a small school setting. We moved a lot when I was a kid and I’d attended 12 schools by the time I hit highschool (went to two different high schools *g*) and it became routine for me seek out the library, books being my one steady friend 😉 Probably contributes to why I’m such a hermit *g*

  12. Hi Cheryl! I’m so glad you enjoyed GUNSLINGER!!!! Yep, you get to see Juniper and Lily again in Kyle’s story 😀

    Congratulations on 30 years of teaching, Cheryl!!! That’s fantastic 🙂 And it sounds like you really enjoyed your job–what a blessing for you and your students 😀

    You know, I fully believe testing is ruining our schools. I’m disgusted with how much focus is put on teaching students to fill in bubbles instead of functionable academics. When I was a kid writing book reports was a staple of education and I believe it taught students to love to read, to comprehend what they read and interact with the text by giving their spin on each story. Nearly in highschool, my did their first book reports this year, which they enjoyed. Teachers are fustrated at their classroom time being taken away for testing and prep for testing and even their presence being taken away from the classroom as they attend madatory classes on how to test—it’s rediculous and it’s hurting our children’s education IMO 🙁 I have my boys privately tutored over summer and they choose a top of their choice and write an essay complete with pictures and maybe an art project, and they love it. I offered to give them a break this summer and they said NO WAY! Made me happy 🙂

  13. Thank you, Linda 🙂

    How neat that your vivid memories are also major world events. I remember being facinated by the excitement and energy readiating off teachers during those kind of events and that’s what really got us kids involved and interested.

  14. What a wonderful family history, Tanya! And what a special family heirloom 😀 Ya know, I love my kids being home and if I was more organized by nature I’d love to homeshool them. I look forward to summer break and am always sad to see them go back at the end of August. I drive them ten miles to school everday because their bus ride would be two hours long each way–and that’s four hours each day I get to spend with my boys…who are becoming young men WAY TOO FAST 😉

  15. Congratulations on your son’s eighth grade graduation!
    I have two grandsons graduating from high school this week. Time passes so fast!

  16. Your oldest son’s graduating from eighth grade? Wow, you’re just a baby, Stacey, with lots of years to write wonderful books.
    Loved the story of your grandparents romance. My parents were both teachers–my mother taught second grade and my dad was my high school principal. So I always had a parent around to keep me in line.

  17. Congratulations to all graduates on all levels!

    I enjoyed my school days but I was the shy person
    of the group. My most exciting times were in high
    school as a member of the school drum and bugle
    corps. We got to perform at halftime at football
    games and in parades. It was a fun time for me!
    We went to one out-of-town game a year and my senior year we rode the train to that special
    game. When we got there, we took part in a twilight parade to the stadium. What fun it was!

    Yesterday was special for my grandchildren and
    for us, too. Honey and I got to join our son’s
    family at three “graduation” ceremonies. Abbey
    from pre-K to kindergarten, Julie, whose
    elementary only goes through 4th grade, up to
    the 5th grade Center, and Paul to middle school.
    Most fun was the school’s confetti parade for the
    new 5th graders! When I got home, I still had
    confetti in MY hair and I’m definitely not a
    5th grader!!

    Pat Cochran

  18. Stacey,

    You’re absolutely right about those changes we have seen in our schools! I see the stuff my kids are learning in college and I don’t know if I could have made it! In their science classes they learn stuff I took in medical school. When I see this it makes me doubt all the bad press our education system gets!

    My mom encouraged me to take three classes in high school; typing, sewing and Spanish. To this day I say they were the only classes that made a difference. I typed all my notes in college and sold them to fellow students, making a hefty profit until “xeroxing” became cheaper for them than buying my copies. I sewed all my own clothes. I’m 6 feet tall and long pants and skirts were not readily available in the 60’s and 70’s. Now fluent in Spanish, my life in the southwest is a lot easier being able to speak that language! But all the other classes made no long lasting impression. It’s different now. Some of the classes my kids took in high school were meaningful and truly helped them excel in college.

    I hope your readers will tune in tomorrow. I’m the guest blogger. I hope they’ll enjoy what I have to say and I’ve got some give-aways too!

    Barbara Bergin
    author of “Endings”

  19. Hi Stacey, Congratulations on your son’s achievement. I have a middle schooler and one starting in the fall and I really think that’s a tough time (socially) even without all of the academic pressures added in.

    I defninitely agree that education was simpler and more meanful in the past. My oldest son is correct when he states that some of his teachers are teaching for the test and the kids certainly do not do enough free thinking in writing and expressing themselves on paper and orally.

    I wouldn’t trade my educational experiences for anything!

    I’m looking forward to Barbara Bergin’s blog tomorrow-what a great mix of careers and motherhood.

    Have a great weekend!

  20. Hi, Stacey! Congrats to your son and to your family!! What an exciting milestone! It’s still years away for our family 😉

    As for graduation memories, I’ve got two–when I graduated from preschool, I remember that my family was late, and by the time we got there, the rest of my class was already on stage. I was panic-stricken and had no idea where to go or what to do… I totally blame that one experience for my current need-to-be-on-time 🙂 And then when I graduated from high school, we had such a big class that there were tons of kids I’d never seen before–just announcing the names took what felt like eons 😉

    Definitely looking forward to Barbara’s post tomorrow!

  21. Sorry to be alway all day! What I thought would be an hour outting…turned into several hours.

    Karen, what an interesting job!! I’m not at all surprised. I think if it was up to the teachers, a lot would be changed in our schools. My kids have been really lucky to have some great teachers and even they are fustrated with all restrictions and standarized testing requirements being forced into the classrooms.

    We’re really proud of our boy. He’s dyslexic, just like his mamma, but at a far more severe degree–very frustrating for a highly intellegent kid to not be able to read despite tons of intervention. Reading didn’t click for me until the 4th grade, and with my son it was the sixth grade before he found a process that started to work for him. He’s worked twice as hard as his brother who’s a reading whiz, so reaching this point was a hard-earned achievement 😉

  22. How fun, Pat! I have a house full of drummers, all three of my guys and we’re huge fans of the Drum and Bugle cores—when went to the Drum Core International Championships last year–those field shows are incredible!!! So great to hear you had such a good experience 😀

    TRIPLE congrats to your grandchildren!!! A confetti parade, now that just sounds like a good time 😉

  23. Hi Barbara! Can’t beat that mom wisdom 😉 Typing and sewing were also two of my most useful classes. I wish I’d put more effort into Spanish, alas, it didn’t stick.

    Looking forward to your post tomorrow!!

  24. Za!!! I was just notified today that you won the bid for my Saddle Up purse on Brenda Novak’s Auction–thank you so much!!! I will be mailing your package out first thing Monday morning 😀

    As for having middle schoolers, you’re right about middle school being the toughest years. Other parents keep telling me how their kids enjoy high school so much more, so we are really looking forward to it. Thanks for posting 🙂

  25. Hold on to your hat, Fedora—it comes so much sooner than you expect it 😉 It didn’t really hit me until he brought home his robe a week ago. On a subconcious level I knew it was coming, but the robe made it REAL, and I had to have a sniffly mom moment 🙂

    HUGS on the preschool trama!! My preschool trama was a christmas play where I sat down on the stage in my angel costume and cried until someone carried me off — I still get stage fright *lol*

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