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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Prairie Creek School, DeWitt County

The One Room school was responsible for educating all so many children in the early history of the United States and their history is for the most part unrecorded. But some our parents, grand parents and great grandparents all had this experience and I am intrigued by it.

The teacher at Prairie Creek School is absent in these images taken on January 20, 1941, but her influence is everywhere. The children are not merely learning by rote, but are learning by doing. (Probably every child that was attending the school is pictured in this series.)

Bill Buck and Richard Gale are building houses from stiff paper at their desk. Larger projects during the year would include building bird houses from wood.

Delmar French and Betty Curtis are learning by teaching. They would be eagerly learning about Europe because of the war in 1941, but with even more interest once their brothers, uncles and fathers were fighting in that war.

These four children, Bob Camden, Hazel French, Katherine Hafley and Paul Hammitt, are not as engaged merely looking at an alphabet book.

But Shirley Hawkins, with the microphone is having fun making a pretend radio broadcast. The others at the table are Annabelle French, Lila Cox and Dean Hawkins. By engaging in such play these children could see themselves being something other than a man or woman working on a farm and their horizons were expanded by their teacher.

The one-room school teachers worked in isolation, with no teacher's lounge or empty class periods. They were the playground monitor as well as the lunch room lady -- and sometimes the cook! It took imagination, hope and good teaching skills to teach in a one room school!

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