AND WE WILL NOT FORGET
March 5, 2012
The brilliant morning sun began to crest over the eastern horizon as the rural farm "kids" trudged their way to the one room country school house District Number 7, town of Boston, New York. That was my school. And I will not forget.
The school children had arisen an hour or two before sun rise, to help with the family farm chores; and now, with the chores finished, school was the order of the day, at least for the next seven hours. At the close of the school day, with the sun now in the western sky, the students treaded their way back home. Farm chores and doing things with family was on the agenda. Each and every school day was a full day, but a happy time, and a work day. I attended that one room country school and what a tremendous educational experience! I had seven years in attendance in this rural school grades one through eight. It was a world of enriching educational experiences and learning opportunities well beyond the three R's.
The rural school house was a little over two miles away from my humble farm home in the sun kissed Boston Hills. At that time, it meant walking to school on unpaved rural roads in all kinds of weather; often snow clogged windswept roads in the winter, refreshing rains in the spring and the aromatic harvest atmosphere in the fall. These were the days in the 1930's, in the midst of the great depression; they were not easy times but as young boys and girls we thought we had it made. I attended that school seven years, grades one through eight with an enrollment of around 17 students and one teacher. There were stationary desks each with an ink well, an American flag and globe, and a wood stove in the middle of the room. I was the fire builder and stove tender for my last three years at four dollars per year. There was no indoor plumbing but a hand water pump in the back yard. There were hand me down books from older siblings, a blackboard, and always a most colorful student-centered bulletin board. It was a school room occupied by rural youths usually ages six to sixteen and we were a "family"! But most significantly, we had a masterfully creative, caring, stimulating, passionate, and loving teacher. She set a tone of acceptance in an atmosphere of "we can do it" and the students could not help but respond in kind. The school was a framed wood building with an attached woodshed. It was a classroom brimming with exploratory learning, adventurous excitement, exuberance in achievement and genuine caring. Each student from the youngest to the oldest could not help but feel that she or he had something very special to give and to receive from one another. There was truly a caring atmosphere among all and richly inspired by a very caring teacher. And we will not forget.
When I think about it now, those days of schooling seemed to be taken for granted. However, upon reflection, I realize we had something far more special. And now, in the ensuring years thereafter, I realize the richness of those formative years. We experienced in that rural school an educational experience containing all the virtues of the most modern educational strategies of today including mastery learning, looping, effective schooling, partnering, learning centers, enrichment, advance placement and differentiated learning modules. But back then, these strategies of the 1930’s were not part of the curricular lexicon of today’s world; they were just good common sense ways of teaching and learning.
There were eight grades with a multi aged population. Often the older students helped the younger...the fifth grader helped the first grader and the eighth grader assisted the fifth grade student. We were all students and "teacher helpers" and we had a job to do. And by the time we reached eighth grade, we had already been exposed to eighth grade the preceding seven years without ever realizing it.
Through the years, the sun in the east has greeted these many students as they entered the door of Boston School District Number Seven. At the end of the day, with the warm sunshine in the western sky, these students eagerly treaded their way home looking forward to the next day and what it will bring. Many of those students now are wonderful parents and grandparents; some have been successful farmers, business and professional men and women, and great examples of American Exceptionalism. And some too have now finished the course of life and have passed on. And we remember.
For many years now, the framed school house on Wohlhueter Road has been moved from its original location and is a family dwelling on Cole Road. The original building is hard to detect as it has been ensconced with several building additions. But the roof top, the peak of the original building, is still visible. It still welcomes the morning sunshine…as in years past when students entered its door; and it closes each day, as in days gone by, in the shadows of the setting western sun. And so, the building lives on as does the impact of those cherished "school days." And I will not forget.
Boston, NY District #7 one room school house on Wohlhueter Rd. (approximately 1947)