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Education's humble start

Published November 12. 2010 05:00PM

There was a time when daily school lessons were taught in a very basic environment.

Four humble walls cradled a world of knowledge while a potbelly stove warmed body, mind and soul.

The rural, one-room schoolhouse was the foundation for America's educational system, as strong a symbol of Americana as mom's apple pie.

Everything about a one-room school was plain and unadorned, reflecting simplicity in a land of pioneers. No electricity. No running water. Two primitive outhouses, one for boys and the other, girls.

In the most basic of shelters, a single teacher taught academics to pupils in elementary grades one to eight.

The schools were a common sight. With their distinctively large windows and bell tower, one-room schoolhouses seemed to sprout along the landscape of eastern Pennsylvania. They dotted the countryside like apple trees.

Part of the reason for their proliferation was a lack of motorized transportation. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, students walked to school. For that reason, schools needed to be nearby and plentiful.

There was something special about those old schools.

And even more special were the teachers who stood at the front of the classroom.

In those days, the teacher also filled the roles of nurse, maintenance person and custodial staff.

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