One Room One Teacher

Posted: September 27, 2016 5:00:00 PM CDT

On September 23rd thirteen teachers were honored for their hard work and dedication as pioneers of education in Nebraska in the One Room/One Teacher project. Those honored were:

Lois N. Shuck; Portland Heights, Cadams and Hardy Schools, Nuckolls County $10,000
Marguerite Kaufman Gronewold, Dawson and Hall County $5,000
Neva C. Kanost, Arapahoe Public Schools $5,000

Doris I. Wagner Horrocks, Madison and Antelope County $1,000
Agnes Cumming Ericson,Platte and Boone County $1,000
Betty E. Parker Zweiner Rodehorst, Maple Grove School, Buffalo County $1,000
Carrie Bogseth Gangwish, Greeley, Sherman, Hamilton, & Adams County $1,000
Dorothy Ericson Maurer, Nancy County $1,000
Leila Rhodes May, Divide Township, Buffalo County $1,000
Madeline Willard Adelung, Buffalo and Custer County $1,000
Marvin D. Stone, Platte County $1,000
Roberta Maurer Sohrweid, Seward County $1,000
L. Leone (Lewis) Sommerfeld, Polk and Hall County $1,000

This is a wonderful occasion with individuals from the public, the faculty, students, staff, and our honorees and donors attending. If you haven’t already visited the COE’s wall and videos dedicated to these fine teachers, please do.

Additionally, this year during Homecoming we honored the COE Educator of the Year, Matt Dykstra. Mr. Dykstra is a UNK graduate, who now teaches at the Ezra Elementary School in Mallard, NE. His contributions in the area of health, wellness, and excellent teaching are well documented in his many awards and projects.

The 1 Room/1Teacher program was designed to honor our legacy of rural school teachers in Nebraska. It is a reminder of our proud heritage to educators, to daughters and sons of educators, and to our future educators.

Nebraska has always been known as the state of the one room schoolhouse, and when they started building these schoolhouses it took NE by storm, between 1875 and 1900 – literally; schools were being built one every two days! They were built from whatever the farmers and ranchers could find – sod, wood, hay. One of my favorite stories is from the book “Let your Light Shine”, it tells the story of Hannah Johnson as she began teaching in a school with four walls, but no roof. (I think as educators many of us can relate to not having the supplies we’d desire, but this is taking it to a new level). Ranchers got the board framing up on the roof, but a heavy rain ensued before they could complete it. As a thunderstorm surfaced Hannah was undaunted, and I quote from the book “When the rain splashed down between the boards, the teacher taught from under her umbrella and the children continued their work sitting under their desks.” Now that is determination, that is persistence, that is wanting an education.

I’m proud to say my Grandmother, Gwendolyn Davis Freeman, taught in a 1 room school house where my Aunt Gladys later attended. Grandma was no longer teaching when my Aunt Gladys attended, as my Grandpa Harold had enticed her into marriage. In those days, marriage ended your teaching career. I was able to get a few snippets from my mother and aunt about those days that I think many of you will relate to, and hopefully enjoy.

My grandmother walked over two miles to get to the school where she taught, in the winter this was particularly challenging as the snow was often knee deep. Once at school, the real work began, grandma was charged with starting a fire to warm up the schoolhouse, preparing her lesson plans and greeting the students. Once all eight students arrived she’d call small groups to the front of the classroom for their lessons, while others were at their desks doing what we might now call “busy work.” Classroom management, was not a problem for Gma, as she said, “I am the teacher and what I say, goes – no questions asked.” The children particularly liked playing “Ring around the Rosy” and tag during recess. My mom and aunt both said that Gma loved teaching, in fact, she often said she wished she had not had to quit as her memories were so pleasant.

My father, who is also a former educator, gave me this plaque from 1873, here are a few of the rules:

  1. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
  2. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
  3. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.

If you have a school rule or story about a 1 Room/1 Teacher schoolhouse please share it.

Neva Nielson, the story of a one room schoolhouse teacher; an interview with her son Monty Nielson

By: Tricia Danburg

Category: Education

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