Teaching in a One-Room School – Leaving Heartprints

Teaching in a One-Room School - Leaving Heartprints

During our 30 plus years living together in Delaware, I had the distinct privilege of teaching in two one-room Amish schools for five years. There were thirty-five children in each of those little schools, in grades one through eight. The school pictured here looks exactly like the Greenfield school located near Kenton, Delaware. My second stint of teaching in an Amish school was at the Oak Grove School near Marydel, Delaware. That structure was subsequently sold and moved to another location to be used as a private residence. Each school had a coal-fired stove for heat in the winter, and no artificial source of light except for an oil lamp on my desk. Many of the children walked to school, but some of them would ride ponies or come in horse-drawn buggies. A pump in the front entry way provided water for washing hands. It wasn’t safe to drink. A small outhouse was the only bathroom. Conditions in those schools would be considered very primitive by most modern-day teachers in public schools, but the children were very eager to learn and to please and were very well behaved. It was a real joy to spend each week-day with them. Older children were eager to aid the younger ones with their scholastic efforts as I rotated throughout the grades with lessons and assignments. Teaching eight grades each day kept me on my toes, and the children taught me a lot. One of the hardest things for me to do was keeping family-ties straight. Those 35 children only had five last names, but came from nine different families. Many of the Amish families who lived near Dover, Delaware when we lived there have now moved to other states. Their farms came under pressure from developers. Increased road traffic made it quite difficult for them to drive their horse-drawn buggies safely. They needed room for their children to farm independently and the farmland was being rapidly gobbled up for housing developments. A few of them still reside in the area. I was gratified several years ago when visiting the area to have three of the girls I had taught tell me that they had been inspired to become teachers. One of them teaches in the little Greenfield school and the other two are living and teaching in Amish schools in Ohio.


2 thoughts on “Teaching in a One-Room School – Leaving Heartprints

    • I’m not a certified teacher, just someone that the local Amish community trusted enough to teach in their schools. For that I’ll always feel grateful. It was a wonderful experience! We took our own children out of public school and homeschooled them for 5 years. One went on to graduate with high honors from the US Naval Academy and one is a successful attorney in PA. I cannot claim any credit for their life’s attainments. Their father has always been and continues to be a good role model.

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