Children residing in the most remote areas of Montana are still getting an education, albeit an unusual one
By the start of the school year in 2013, the United States had roughly 200 single-room schools in brick buildings, clapboard schoolhouses, and similarly rural contraptions. Sixty seven of these schools were in Montana.
Less than 1% of elementary school students in the U.S. attend one-room school-houses, although at one point half of all American students were taught in similar schools 100 years earlier, including Abraham Lincoln.
These schools serve not only as a hub of education for country children but also as a place for the community can gather, and older students as well as teachers provide guided, one-on-one mentoring and education to younger students.
Some of the schoolhouses have as few as two students, such as Blomfield School of Dawson County.
Carter County teacher Marjorie Scott said of the one-room school system: “You get to teach each student individually. Each one is an individual person and you design your program grade per grade.”
“You don’t have to teach a first-grader just first-grade stuff. A first-grader can learn third-grade stuff if he is ready.”
Unique schools are a part of Montana history
The Montana Preservation Alliance took the initiative to begin protecting former one-room schoolhouses as historical preservation sites with the Big Sky Schoolhouse Survey.
Survey Team Martha Vogt and Jim Greene discovered the sites of over 650 schoolhouses spread throughout the state of Montana, although most of them are no longer standing – only 130 or so still stand.
Project-director Christine Brown hopes to preserve the existing schoolhouses as a tangible piece of Montana history.
“Not every schoolhouse can have a new use, but our hope is to encourage stabilization of rural schoolhouses so this strong and tangible piece of Montana history is there for future generations to learn about and enjoy.”