The Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance held their annual one-room school workshop on October 4-6, 2007 .The host organization this year was the Johnson County Historical Society in Coralville, Iowa. For those ofyou who haven’t been to one of these, they have a few main speakers and then try to give a capsule of everything that’s going on in one-room schools in Iowa.
The program started on Thursday night with a lecture on the long term effect of the Amish school shootingby Mark Dewalt of Winthrop University in South Carolina. He literally wrote the book on Amishone-room schools. Friday morning began again with Dr. Dewalt talking about The Future the One-Room School in America.
Next up was Diane Schupbach from the University of Northern Iowa. Schupbach talked aboutstandards in school. Iowa is about the only state that reserved the right to have local standards under No Child Left Behind. She talked about finding local standards and tying what your schooloffers school groups to all sorts of standards, not just history, but subjects like spelling and math.No Child Left Behind and budgets have led schools to really cut back on field trips. To maintain those tours, you have to help teachers make the strongest case possible how a visit to your museum will fitwith the curriculum. She also told us about a new program at UNI where they got legalpermission to collect the one-room school material from the Area Education Agencies in Iowa.They are still in the early collecting stages, but this should prove to be a great improvement to have the records all in one place, organized and preserved. This program is called P.H.I.R.E.and I expect we’ll hear more about it in years to come.
Susan Fineman of Nashua, New Hampshire presented her program from the CSAA conferenceon discipline in one-room schools. Although focused on the east coast and a time frame pretty earlyfor the Midwest, it was a very interesting program and was a good example of usingprimary documents to prune back some of the myths that surround one-room schools.
Iowa is home of a National Heritage Area called Silos and Smokestacks. A heritage area is a national recognition of an area where sites can join together around a “>central theme.Candy Steed from Silos and Smokestacks talked about opportunities and positive effects that rural tourism can have for your museum. Gordon Hendrickson from the State HistoricalSociety of Iowa came and talked about the Iowa Country Schools Grant Program and othergrant programs that could be available to one-room school museums. Roseanne Malekfrom the Iowa Department of Education covered two topics. Malek first talked about herparents’ experience. They both attended one-room schools in Iowa and both had Czechas a first language. In one school Czech was used in the classroom and in the other it was restricted to English only. The language barriers faced in many schools today has been with it a long time. Malek also talked about the service learning grants offered be the Iowa Department of Education for schools to do projects with schools that might be a useful program for one- room school museums to be involved with.
After lunch at the new Marriott, there was a collection of what was happening in one-room schools around Iowa. Marilyn Robinette of Albia told about how they had decided that the schools around their county couldn’t really be saved and so they decided to build a new, recreated one. They also decided to make this new school a central location for information on all the one-room schools in the county. They put a call out for information and organized it into one notebook for school. They are up to about 18 notebooks now.Helen Augustine of Emmetsburg talked about her new book “They Opened the Door andLet My Future In” about one-room school teachers in her county. Jeanette Kottke talkedabout her project to put together a video about their school. Mike McGill of Independence talked about them developing a new agriculture museum they call a agribition center called Heartland Acres. They have really focused on the agritourism and on getting business tie-ins to the complex. A final session was on the Country School Association of America. Susan Fineman talked on the value of joining CSAA and I talked about the oneroom listserv.I hope other people will join as well. Everyone moved to the school building that the Johnson County Historical Society has on 5th Street. This school has gone through several renovations. Currently the first floor is restored to 1876-1877 (the first year the school was in use) and the top floor to the late 1930s-early 1940s (when the school was last in service as a school). It’s been renovated, down to the button light switches, but is in the process of gatheringthe last few artifacts to completely dress the school room. The stairway in between the two floors has a timeline showing the changes in the school and Coralville in between the two periods depicted. It’s a unique school and one well worth seeing. http://www.jchsiowa.org/ After supper we returned to the museum for an author night where people shared, sold, and signed books and videos they produced.
The following day was the caravan tour. We stopped at the Washington Township School. Now used as a community building, it was one of a handful of Township schools in the country, trying to avoid consolidation into town. The school across the street was a one-room school that served as an elementary to the township high school. We stopped at the Cheese Factory (a local Kalona landmark) and went on to stop at the Straw College school house at the Kalona Historical Village. We stopped at the Middleburg Amish school. This one-room school was previously used as a public school and now is active >as an Amish school making it one of the longest actively used one-room schools in Iowa. The teacher Rebecca was there to talk about what they do. A final school stop was in Wellman where we visited the Smith Creek School Museum. The tour was topped off with a meal in a Mennonite meal. The date is not yet fixed for next year (either the first or second weekend in October), but will be in Ames, Iowa.