Teachers’ Stories – Our History

NewETposterAnyone who went to Wellman’s school or lived in the community may recognize the children in the photo that serves as background for this poster prepared by Enoch Turner Schoolhouse. The photo dates to about 1935 when Grace Dayman was the teacher – the same Grace whose life story is in the book: Grace: a teacher’s life, one-room schools, and a century of change in Ontario.
Wellman’s one-room school was the centre of education in Wellman’s Corners for 130 years. Although the school itself was rebuilt two or three times, it was the place where four generations of my own family learned to read and write. Forty-five years ago, it was closed and local children began taking the bus to a consolidated school in Stirling, Ontario.
Teachers in one-room schools did much more than follow the curriculum and keep discipline. They lived in the community, attended local church services, planned and participated in social events. Through their own behavior, they were expected to illustrate good manners, politeness, thoughtfulness and respect. Their character was closely observed. Parents invited them into their homes and wanted them to be role models for their children.
Like Grace, many rural teachers married local farmers and volunteered for the rest of their lives. Often they were the backbone of local organizations – the church, Sunday School, Women’s Institutes. Sometimes, like Grace, they were pioneers too – the first married women in their communities to accept employment away from the home and farm.
Throughout Ontario and Canada, teachers and former teachers played key roles in thousands of small communities. Their stories are our history.
If you live in Toronto, join us on Tuesday, October 29, 2013, at Enoch Turner Schoolhouse for stories about One-Room Schools and Ontario History.  Details and the full poster are available on their site.