My first 10 years of teaching was in the rural one-room schools.
The schools had coal stoves; no running water, no phones, and one had no electricity. Once you were there mornings you had full responsibility of children; their health and care until 4 P.M.
I enjoyed it all and the farm families expected their children to respect others and not be disciplinary cases. We all had many good times.
Gladys (Keesey) Lockyear
My Rural Schools
My one-room schools that I taught were Prairie Home, Olive, Maple Grove, and Bethel.
I graduated from Winfield High School May 1945. I had already signed a contract to teach Prairie Home School in Sept. 1945. I had an 8-hr emergency certificate to teach because of shortages of teachers due to WWII. During my senior year of high school I worked at Sonner Burner 6th and Andrews. I worked from 7am-9am went to high school from 9:30-12:00pm then Southwestern 1am-3am then back to sonners from 3:30-6:00pm. My studies at Southwestern were practice teaching, child psychology, and methods.
One of the highlights of my first year of teaching was that Gary Millers’ mother baked a big angel food cake for my 18th birthday. I had seven students that year so we cut the cake in eight pieces and all of us really enjoyed it.
My daily schedule at school was to get there early and unlock the building and get ready for the day. I taught all subjects beginning with the older student and they had a choice of which lower grade that they wanted to help for the day. We switched off and on – so I always knew which student needed extra help. When it came to science, health, art and music, I always taught these as a group activity. We didn’t have any special teachers for music and art so I used the fun things I remember from my grade school and high school days and used them. We all had fun and no complaints. We had a few rhythm\band instruments that we used occasionally.
In regard to spelling bees and math races, we choose sides and worked on the blackboard. The length of the school year was eight months. We finished all of our required books and I actually think we accomplished as much as in eight as we did in later years of nine months.
The students dressed as ordinary children did. Dresses for the girls and long pants for bugs
I just took a lunch pail like everyone else, usually just a sandwich and a thermos of hot chocolate. When I moved onto bethel – we had a school fun night when the students put on a carnival and we made some money- I took the money to Albertson Store where the manager Leroy Wheeler gave us a good deal on canned soup. Each student brought a cup of hot soup for lunch, each student washed and dried his cup after lunch and hung it back on its nail for the next day.
In Dec. 1945 a sudden storm hit the New Salem area where Prairie Home was one mile east and one mile south. The snow came thick and sudden. I got some extra coal in from the coal shed for the stove, as it was real cold outside. From the coal shed to the school was not very far away – so I decided to get a full bucket of water from the pump. It was snowing so fast and thick that I was afraid I’d get lost in trying to get back to the building. Lester Jordan, one of my oldest boy students decided to tie all the ropes we had for jump ropes together and fastem to my coat belt so I could get the water. I got my bucket of water and pulled on the rope and that guided me safely back to the building. It snowed for several hours as soon as it cleared a little parents came to pick the children. The outhouses were fifty-feet away from the building- so we prepared a bucket behind some back shelves so the children if they needed to go to the bathroom could use it and not have to go out in the blinding snow storm. We didn’t have school for the next two days as all of the roads were closed.
Halloween Oct. 1947
I was teaching at Olive School just north and east of Winfield. Halloween was always a special holiday for school children. They brought their costumes to school in the morning. We all stayed after 4pm and played outside and gathered wood and branches and built a fire and had a wiener roast. Then they put on their costumes and played a few inside games. About 7:30pm as it was getting dark we had a ghost walk that turned out to be very memorable to everyone. One student was in charge of the event. He had mentioned it to his folks and they helped him to decide where we should go. Jackie Hartly guided us to a cornfield just north of the school that had shocks of corn. We hadn’t gone very far when something white fluttered between the shocks. As we got a little closer another medium sized white figure appeared with his white sheet blowing in the wind and after a little while a small one followed. We watched for quite a while – no one had any idea what was going on. Some of the younger children were getting scared. I felt responsible for the group so after about 30 minutes we went back to the school all wondering what was out there. It was really scary. The next morning when Jackie came to school he brought his mother to apologize to me, as he was afraid I was mad. I assured her it was the best ghost walk I’d had ever been on and to give my thanks to Jackie’s dad and little sister for their share in adding excitement to a ghost walk. This was big surprise to me; and one I will never forget.