School Days

Country Schools and Teachers

Remember these were dust bowl depression years when teachers were a dime a dozen and school boards didn't need a reason for termination. The going wage for a good primary teacher was $800 a year, and less if she or he taught in a country one room school. Grades one to twelve were taught for even less than that.

These one-room country schools were scattered all across my vast prairie homeland to serve the rural population made up of a family on each quarter section of the land.

Most kids rode a horse winter or summer, a daunting task in sub zero weather. Next to these little country schools was a barn nearly the same size as the school, and a house for the teacher, which was smaller than either of the other two buildings.

To qualify for a country school teaching position you not only had to have a current teaching certificate, you must also be able and willing to do the following:
• keep the school warm by stoking the two pot bellied coal stoves,
• shovel snow off school steps and paths,
• see that hay was available for the horses,
• play janitor after school,
• look after your little house they called the teacherage,
• and try to remain sane while the coyotes howled to the moon and the Northern lights shimmered and rustled their reflections off the vastness of snow stretching out forever from your center of this frozen universe.

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