BLUFFTON — A symbol of a bygone era, one-room schoolhouses dot the landscape of northwest Ohio.
Author and teacher Myrna Grove discussed the legacy of one-room schools at a presentation before the Swiss Community Historical Society Sunday at Maple Crest Senior Living near Bluffton.
“Everybody loves to talk about them. I was an elementary teacher in the public school for 35 years, but my mother attended one-room schools and she taught in two different ones in Williams County,” Grove said.
The one-room school has gone the way of the horse and buggy, with many torn down. Of the few that remain, many have been neglected.
“At one time, there were 12,000 in the state in the early 1900s. When I first started my research in the 1990s, there was still 30-some in Williams County being used for all types of purposes [besides education],” she said.
Grove is active in promoting the legacy and history of one-room schools.
“I do a re-enactment for grades one through eight in the summertime through the historical society in one of our last schools that closed in 1957. In Ohio, consolidation took a long process and then was completed by the 1950s, whereas in states like Michigan they still have 20 one-room schools in operation,” she noted.
Grove’s love for one-room schools, while nostalgic, is also practical in the sense of teaching a new generation about them.
“It’s preservation and it’s also education of the [evolution] of schools and how they first started and keeping that knowledge alive for kids today,” she said.
Inside the old one-room schools, the students could range between first and eighth grade, allowing teachers to teach more broadly.
“The things it [one-room schools] used to have, like multi-aged students helping each other, was one of the main ones, just the neighborhood idea that you’re a family and the community is the small crossroads for you to do things together and support each other. It’s kind of your social life, too, and we don’t really have that closeness anymore,” she said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.