Beulah Henderson was the teacher at Wooley Creek School from September of 1943 until the spring of 1944. She was 20 years old at the time and it was her first teaching job. The monthly salary that she was paid was $95 for which she had to walk from the school to the home of one of the directors for her paycheck each month. Beulah boarded with the Ira Foster family who lived close to the school and she paid them $16 a month for room and board. She remembers that they were a kind family to her and Cassie befriended her in many ways. Her father would take her over to the Foster home on Sunday evenings and come back to get her every Friday afternoon so she could spend the week-end with her family.
Beulahís main responsibility in the school was teaching and supervising the children. She was not expected to do any of the custodial work as that was done by one of Iraís sons, Oliver who also happened to be one of her eighth grade students that year. He would bring in the fire wood for the stove every morning during cold weather and build the fire. He would make sure there was a fire going throughout the day by adding more wood when it was needed. It was also his job to carry out the ashes and sweep the school. She doesnít recall the names of all the students during that year but does remember the students who were in the eighth grade class and still has a picture of herself with them sitting on the front steps of the school. The following students were in that class: Johnny Foster, Loretta Foster, Ruth Morris, Darlene Foster, Evelyn Maloot, Rosey Mae Carney and Oliver Foster.
The children all lived within walking distance of the school although for some it may have been a mile or a little more. School was never called off because of the snow because everyone could get there and the teacher always lived close by or boarded with a family who did.
School started promptly each week day morning at 9 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m.. They had an hour set aside at noon for lunch, recess and using the outhouses (outdoor toilets) because there was no indoor plumbing. She taught all the subjects for grades one through eight which included reading, arithmetic, spelling, writing and geography. Each one had the necessary textbooks but there were very few library books for additional reading beyond the basic readers. There was no money available for song books and Beulah remembers collecting a small fee from some of the children to buy books that could be used for learning to sing songs. Of course they didnít have a piano or any musical instruments to use.
The students were seated in the room according to grade levels. Beulah would bring the first graders to the front of the room for their lessons but the older children were taught at their desks. She didnít have any large maps for teaching geography. And there was no way to copy off written tests so they had to be put on the board and the children would copy them and then write down the answers to the questions. She remembers that the children brought their own supplies to school such as pencils, crayons and Big Chief tablets. Later there was some other type notebook paper that was also brought by the older students.
Beulah remembers that there was also a morning and afternoon recess in addition to the one at noon when lunch was eaten. The students played all sorts of games they made up and usually there would be a game of baseball among the older students. She also recalls that the children brought their lunches to school either in a pail, a paper sack or some kind of lunch bucket. Beulahís mother usually sent her food for lunches with her when she went to the Fosters for the week. She doesnít remember what her lunch would consist of but she does remember that she loved eggs so that was usually a part of her lunch.
Evening gatherings at the school were usually pie suppers. Beulah remembers the one held shortly before Christmas to raise money for buying Christmas gifts for the children. The money was given to her and she went to Springfield and bought gifts that the children had said they would like to have. Remembering back to that time she spoke about a Christmas tree in the school room and recalls the children making decorations out of crepe paper.
There was no electricity in the school so kerosene lamps had to be used for gatherings held at the school in the evening. Water for drinking, washing hands or other purposes had to be drawn from the well outside into a bucket and the children used cups they brought from home.
Beulah recalls that she was a little apprehensive going to Wooley Creek School for her first teaching job. She was young and inexperienced but knew she wanted to teach. Her year at Wooley Creek turned out to be a good experience. She was hired the next year to teach grades one through four at the Keystone School. While she was teaching she also enrolled for summer classes at Southwest Baptist College. While teaching at Keystone it was decided by the school directors that they would move the students and teachers to the Reeds Spring Elementary school that burned down in later years. At the end of the school year the Keystone directors decided to re-open the school there again. When they went back to Keystone there were no books with which to teach and Beulah recalls that was a very chaotic time until they could order some books and get them delivered. She next was hired to teach at Boston Center where she taught again taught the first four grades for two years. Another teacher taught grades five through eight. Her next teaching job was at Cave Springs School (just past Galena) and taught there until they consolidated with the Galena school district in 1952. She spent the next fourteen years at Abesville which is a part of the Galena school district. Beulah was then hired to teach at the Reeds Spring Elementary building in town. That school was built after the first one burned. She spent her last nineteen years at Reeds Spring teaching fifth grade and remedial math and retired in May of 1984 after a teaching career that covered a span of forty years.
Beulah lovingly recalls her teaching years and the many students that she taught over the years. She married Norman Brown in 1945 who was well known during his lifetime as a successful businessman and a very hard worker. He served on the Reeds Spring school board for several years.
Now Beulah spends her retirement years enjoying her son
Gary, daughter-in-law Valerie and grandson Declan. She proudly displays
their photos in her living room and speaks of her wonderful family and
how blessed she is to have them close.
© 2006 Jo Dunne
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