Rural Schools

Date in History: 1840s to 1950s

The life of a rural school teacher was quite different than that of their city counterpart. Due to limited housing and transportation, teachers often lived with their students’ families. Their days began early with a walk to work and upon arrival they had to prepare the building for the day. The rural teacher filled all roles at the school from janitor to principal. Water was carried in for drinking and washing and during cold weather a fire needed to be built.

The school day began at nine o’clock and ended at four. After the day ended, the teacher would clean the school and prepare lessons for the next day. Lesson plans had to be devised for all eight grade levels in each subject.

The support of the community was important to keeping a good teacher. Students vied to assist the teacher and parents supported both with in-kind help and by insisting that their children behave and work hard. The schoolhouse remained a central meeting place for the rural communities until their closure in the 1950’s.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 03/20/2006.

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