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.

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