‘My years in the classroom as a teacher’
Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2010 12:28 pm
By: By Hyla Richardson, Special to The Press
WCP 9.21.10 On the first day of school, 31 students showed up at the one-teacher school and also two or three older boys were there to see what the new teacher looked like.
In those days, everyone didn’t go to high school. The older boys soon left and we began the first day’s work that including getting the students names, their grades, and working out a schedule of classes.
There were pupils from grade one through the eighth grade. Upon completing the registration, I found that there was only one in grade eight and he proved to be very helpful with the others.
The other grades had the remaining 30 with six in the first grade and the remainder scattered throughout the other six grades.
The supplies provided by the school system consisted of some chalk, easers, two brooms, a coalscuttle, and a shovel to remove the ashes from the stove during the winter.
The parents had to buy the children’s books and other supplies and I had to buy my books also.
The children’s books were passed on down to another member of the family or sold to another family with children who might need to the books. The same books were used for four or five years before they were changed.
Since we had no electricity, air-conditioning consisted of raised windows and cardboard fans in the fall, and in the winter we had central heat – a pot-bellied stove located in the center of the room.
The floor was of what appeared to be pine boards that had been oiled to keep down the dust when the sweeping was done.
A big pile of coal was dumped near the building in the fall and when needed, the lumps were placed into the coalscuttle and carried into the building and kept near the stove.
Building a fire was a chore that had to be done quickly so the room would be warm as soon as possible.
Everything that was necessary for building a fire was left in order in the afternoon before leaving the building. An ample supply of kindling and coal was left near the stove.
The damper and vents were almost closed to keep some of the coals alive for the next morning.
With luck, there would be some live coals the next morning and after shaking down the ashes, a fire would soon be roaring and spreading warmth throughout the room.
Our bodies may have suffered from the heat in summer and fall, and the cold in the winter, but our hearts and lives were strengthened because of our feeling for each other and a mutual desire to understand our roles in the endeavor.
The room we occupied was on the north side of the building and there were windows along at least three-fourths of the entire wall.
On cloudy days, there wasn’t sufficient light, but we did the best we could.
Editor’s Note: Hyla Richardson is a retired school teacher who now resides in Dresden. Her column will run throughout the school year in The Weakley County Press. This column is a historical account of the retired teacher’s years in the classroom.