One-Room School House by Rhonda Gibson!

RhondaGibson Oklahoma Trip May 2011 034Teachers in one-room schools were often former students of the same school they taught in. During the winter months they would get to school early to get a fire started in a pot belly stove so the building would be warm for the students’ arrival. Sometimes, depending on where in the country they were located, they would even prepare a hot, noon meal on top of the stove, usually soup or some kind ofredschoolhouse stew.

Pay varied.  Some teachers made as little as $4 – $11 per month, but others earned as much as $25 per month. Many schools were only in session 3 – 4 months out of the year since children were needed to help with spring chores and fall harvesting. That meant the teacher had to find another job or live a full year on only 4 months salary. Although some women made teaching their career, a substantial number of women taught for only a year or two, then married and moved on to new challenges. This pattern, as well as the relatively low pay, led to a very high turnover among teachers

Most small towns could only afford a one-room school building made from stone, wood, and sometimes, even sod. We often tend to think of these schoolhouses as being red, but most were white. Some had the luxury of a school bell, but many didn’t.

A normal school day ran from nine am to four pm, with two fifteen minute recesses, one in the morning and another in the afternoon and an hour for lunch. Recess was spent outside on sunny days and children played with ropes, jacks, balls and various games with each other. If a tree was available, you might see a rope swing with a board to sit on hanging from its branches.

The children generally went up to the eighth grade. During those years, teachers taught many subjects: reading (most of the time from the Bible) grammar, penmanship, spelling, history, geography, and ciphering (mathematics). Children usually wrote on slates while the teacher used chalk to write on boards that had been painted black–which is why it became known as the “blackboard.”

The older students had the responsibility of bringing in water and fetching coal or wood for the stove. According to their size and gender, younger students would be given chores such as sweeping, cleaning the blackboard, or taking the erasers outside for dusting. If a student was naughty, the chores of the younger student became the naughty student’s job after school as a form of punishment.

Taming the Texas RancherIn Taming the Texas Rancher, Hannah Young is a schoolteacher who now wants to be a rancher’s wife and work alongside her husband. Imagine her surprise when Daniel Westland, her intended, has other plans and has built a school house on the ranch for her to teach the children that live on the ranch.

Daniel and Hannah convert the storage room at the back of the school house into Hannah’s home until they get married–if they get married. This wasn’t commonly done and was a work of my own fictional mind. (Big Smile)

One room school houses aren’t common today but I’d love to hear about any that you might have come across so please, tell me all about them.

Please join in the conversation and be eligible to win a free copy of my Love Inspired Historical, Taming the Texas Rancher!

Also, my ebook, Her Christmas Angel, is free today!  Get a copy for your Kindle now!


To learn more about Rhonda Gibson and her books, check out her website:

Rhonda’s newest release, Taming the Texas Rancher, is available on Amazon now!

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34 thoughts on “One-Room School House by Rhonda Gibson!”

  1. I just added this book to my must get pile. It sounds really good. One room schoolhouses and Christmas are both my types of stories so this should be extra great.

  2. HI Rhonda, I attended a one room country school house as did my husband and my children, all four of them, all of us went through the eighth grade. In rural Nebraska where the distances are great one room country school houses still exist, though they are increasingly rare. But in western nebraska especially, where it can be a 40 mile drive, one way, to the nearest town, and where a family will often buy a house in town and the mom and children will move to town at least in the winter and live there during the week for school and return home on weekend, there are still rural schools, sometimes very small.
    I loved our rural school. And yes, the children had chores and recess was mostly the kids running around outside playing tag or swinging or making up silly games that were a surprisingly good use of their imagination. We had wonderful field trips because it only took a couple of willing moms and we could load the whole school in the car and off we’d go.
    It was great. The same teacher had all four of my daughters through their entire eight years and we made a good team. I can promise you no child slipped through the cracks (no matter how hard they tried). The teacher used to say to me, “Unlike in town there is just no way to NOT teach a student a lesson because I can’t just get them through the year and pass them and make them some other teacher’s problem, they come right back to me next year and are still MY problem so I HAVE to make sure they’ve mastered the 1st grade material or I’m in trouble when I try to built on that in 2nd grade.”

    And the kids learned from each other. Older students would help the younger ones. Which re-enforced the lessons to the older students.
    And younger students would listen in on the older students doing their lessons in front of the class which gave them some idea of what was coming.

    I think that multi-grade system, all learning together, and one teacher being responsible for the same child year after year, plus that close teacher/parent partnership is the best way to educate a child.

  3. I think the whole experience of a one room school house would be great! My mother, daddy and I all went to the same school but it wasn’t just the one room. I am always drawn to the school house when we see them on vacations in different states. I am a former teacher so teaching is never far from my mind. I would absolutely love to win this book. Former teacher, live in Texas, married to a rancher. I know I would love the book. Thank you for the opportunity!

  4. Hi Rhonda! Welcome to P&P. Love your subject. In the book I’m writing now, the heroine is trying to get a schoolteacher to their town. Lots of towns in the old west didn’t have teachers. Up until a few years ago, we still had one-room schools here in rural parts of Texas. Your story sounds great. Thanks for the free offer of your Christmas one. I’ve already downloaded it into my Kindle.

    Wishing you much success!

  5. I love one-room schoolhouses and visit them any time we find one during our travels! I think this way of schooling was wonderful and most effective. Each child was taught educational fundamentals and mastered them, with the help of their teacher and their peers. Also, there were no standardized tests that seem to consume the schools of today!

    Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of TAMING THE TEXAS RANCHER. I downloaded your ebook earlier this week!

  6. Welcome to the junction and congratulation on your books! As a former teacher, I love stories like yours.

    It seems like we’re going back to the single room schoolhouse, but today it’s called home schooling.

  7. During our summer road trip we stopped at the Herbert Hoover presidential library and gravesite. It’s in the small Quaker village where he grew up and they have the one-room schoolhouse that he attended open for tours. It was pretty interesting!

  8. I went to a school in a living history museum set in 1830 Indiana and the teacher in her role was asked if she had discipline problems. She gets this incredibly severe look on her face. (she was great) and says, “The parents each pay … I think it was maybe 3 cents a day to send their children … and no child would ever disrespect a parents sacrifice of that kind of expense for education by doing less than their very best work at school. It is unthinkable. There are no discipline problems ever.”

    That’s an eye opening idea, huh?

  9. Add in that children did NOT have to go to school. It was absolutely considered a luxury.
    You know considering how many children go through school today only to drop out, never learn a thing, or graduate because they’ve been passed through and never really learn a thing, I sometimes wonder if we should stop having school be mandatory. How much money do we waste on students who never learn anything, don’t want to be there, are nothing but disrupting to the children who do want to be there and make it so difficult for everyone else.
    Who are we kidding?
    Just leave them alone.

  10. Your post was so educational. I never knew that the school year was 4 months long and the school teacher was so low!

  11. Thank you all for coming and commenting! I have to admit I learned a lot about the 1800’s school teacher from my friend, Vickie McDonough. She was a storehouse of information when I was researching school teachers and one room school houses. I also visited a lot of school houses so that I could get “the feel”.

    Mary I envy you. I think I would have loved being taught by one teacher for 8 years. Thanks so much for sharing your vast knowledge on the subject 🙂

    I visited one school house in Arizona that had a room on it, just like the one that Hannah ends up staying it. It was attached and very small. Unfortunately, my pictures didn’t come out, talk about disappointed. I would have loved to have shared them with you.

    Again, thank you all for coming. I hope you enjoy the free download and will enjoy TAMING THE TEXAS RANCHER.

  12. Welcome to the Junction, Rhonda. Your book sounds fabulous. What a great premise and unique twist on the one-room schoolhouse. Oh, what a creative mind can come up with. I can’t wait to read your book, I must know if your heroine gets her happy-ever-after with her rancher hero.

  13. I remember going to visit one once… It was something to see… I could not believe how small it was… it was a museum and had items from back then to see… over all it was an amazing time… to see a piece of the past up close.

  14. Really enjoyed your post, Rhonda, & your comments – also, Mary! SO interesting!

    I love visiting one-room schoolhouses – the last I saw, was in the Cades Cove area, near Gatlinburg, Tn..

    TOO bad they don’t read the bible in school now, as they did then. Maybe our schools would be more encouraging to students & teachers, if they did.

    Would love to read Taming the Texas Rancher, thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!


  15. I had a conversation, yesterday, with a friend who sends her daughters to the two room school in our county. They have 13 students this year, up 3 from last year, and 6 of them actually live in that school district. The other 7 are there because the parents want the individualized attention their children receive. The school has two rooms because there were more students when it was built after the old wooden building burned.

    Here on our home place the one room school closed in 1938 because so many families moved away during the depression there were no children left of school age. That building had a room/apartment for the teacher to live in and was built of brick after the original building burned down. Only a few pieces of the foundation remained of the brick building when I moved here.

    I agree with Margaret’s comment. Some of the Home School cooperatives look very much like one room schools.

  16. There is a one room school house at a local living history museum nearby in Fort Worth. Other than that, I have not been to others that I can recall.

    Thanks for the chance to win your book!

  17. School teachers are very prevalent in my family! My mom was one, my daughter is a 3rd grade teacher and my youngest daughter is a senior in college, about to graduate to become a high school social studies teacher! My parents both graduated from schools in tiny, farming communities. My dad had to go away to high school because his town didn’t have one! When I was growing up, my dad always showed us the one-room schoolhouse my grandpa attended in the town he grew up. It’s still there although not used, of course! I love education! Thanks for your post, Rhonda! Your book looks great!

  18. I taught school for one year (grades 7-10). I have a lot of respect for those women who taught as I quit as soon as my contract was finished. I might have done a second year if each one only lasted four months. Thanks for an interesting post. I love your books.

  19. Hey Rhonda,
    Great post! I did not attend a school like this, but my parents did. Well, they were actually three room schoolhouses located in the mountain communities. Each had two rooms for the children and a kitchen. They were built in the Great Depression years by groups of men put to work by the government. My oldest sister actually attended one for one year before the county consolidated the outlying schools into one school system in the valley.

  20. My grandfather attended at one-room schoolhouse in Ontario. He went back for a visit when he was in his 70s and his teacher recognized him!

    Teachers worked so hard in those one-room schoolhouses! No subs, no planning periods during music-art-PE. No ESL or sped teachers to help with special needs students. No janitor, secretary, nurse, or principal. And living with a student’s family… no privacy!

  21. My husband attended a one room school that was in the same mile section on which they lived. We now own the schoolhouse land and know where the school stood but anyone driving by today would not realize there was ever a school there.There were only 6 students in the school while he attended.

    Heading to Amazon now to check out your books. Thanks.

  22. Wow! Lots of folks have visited while I was out and about. I agree teachers back then worked hard… todays teacher’s work hard too, just not in the same way 🙂

    I worked for the schools here for over 10 years, first as a teacher’s aide and then as a Elementary Librarian. I also ran an in home preschool for two years. So I guess that is kind of like a one room school house, but not nearly as hard!

    Thanks again everyone for stopping by! You all are the greatest!!

  23. I enjoyed both the post and the comments. Mary, thanks for your personal insight. It is the type of school I would have liked my children to attend. My son was in a small private school one year and there were only 6 students in his 6th grade. I was excited thinking of all they would be able to do. Big disappointment. The teacher gave them work sheets and left them all day asking the teacher in the next classroom to check on them every once in a while. As a teacher, I think of what great things could have been done in that class. What a waste and a shame.

    The old one room school house for the area where I grew up in Northern New York was less than a half mile from our house. Of course by then it was a private summer house. They stopped using it for a school some time in the early 1900’s. When the elderly lady who owned it decided to sell, my sister and her husband bought it. She had always loved it. Some of the old books and maps were still there.

  24. Amazon is not my friend tonight. HER CHRISTMAS ANGEL was not a free download when I checked it. It was about 11:30 PM so they probably changed it early. It is on my wish list as is TAMING THE TEXAS RANGER.

  25. Rhonda, I just checked Amazon and it doesn’t show your Christmas book as Free. It’s $2.99 I think where I started school in the country in a small town. Seems all were in a large room in different sections. That’s what my memory says, but not so sharp on that. When I was in 7th and 8th grades the eight grades were in 4 rooms. Two classes in each room. I love this blog. Hello to everyone and GOD Bless each of you. Please put my name in that stetson .
    MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

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