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My, how schools have changed

Bonnie Simmerman, Community Voices • Aug 4, 2019 at 6:45 AM

On Saturday, July 27, my husband and I attended the open house at the new Boones Creek Elementary School. As we walked the halls and visited the classrooms, gyms, library, and cafeteria I was struck with how different the school is from ones I attended or taught in.

It doesn’t seem possible that schools are starting this early. Many of us remember when we never went until after Labor Day, but I imagine many (especially the parents) are ready for it to begin.

The way we got to school has changed dramatically. In the first two elementary schools I attended, we had to walk there each day. In one it was all the way across town, and in the other one it was only a block away. At the first high school I attended we did not have school buses, but we rode the city buses with special tokens that were inexpensive. I had to change high schools three times since my father was a minister and moved to different churches. I only rode a school bus my senior year. Now our students ride the bus or the family car or drive themselves. Quite a change from days gone by.

Eating at school was different also. In the first through third grades, my class had to eat our lunches in our classroom because the cafeteria was not usable. At my next school, we walked home for lunch, ate whatever our moms had for us, and walked back for the second half of the school day. In high school, the cafeteria had been condemned, so we had to walk downtown and eat at whatever restaurant was available. That is quite a change from today when school cafeterias provide lunch for all students as well as breakfast for many.

In first through eighth grades, I only had one teacher each year. Now students have art, music, guidance, physical ed, etc., as well as a classroom teacher. It seems there is no excuse not to get a good education.

After becoming a teacher, I had some unique experiences. The second year I taught in Virginia. The building was 50 years old and in need of repair. The new school would not be really until Thanksgiving, so we had to put up with things like they were. We had an outhouse! My classroom was heated with a pot belly stove that I needed to keep a fire going in each day. The janitor was a big help with this task.

Just before moving into our new school the teachers were discussing how we would have to instruct the students in how to use the new bathrooms since many of them did not have one at home. One of the teachers said she might need some instructions, also, since she also had an outhouse.

My longest tenure as a teacher was at Jonesborough Elementary. There we had to get used to open spaces with no walls. Over the years, we added bookcases, etc. which served as walls and we did manage to have school every day. I am glad that our new schools in the county are not of the same design as JES, and I look forward to having a new Jonesborough Elementary School some day in the future.

Students arrive at school differently these days. Very few will walk to school. Their meals will be provided for them in a nice clean cafeteria. They will have many different teachers to influence them. They will have to give up their summer leisure sooner than they would like. They will have nice clean bathrooms to use. It seems like with all these things going on there should be a good school year beginning now. To al the students, teachers, administrators, bus drivers, and parents — let’s make it the best year ever!

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