Within the boundaries of the Southern New England Conference four one-teacher schools are thriving. These schools are staffed by teachers who are on the front line of Christian education every day, basically by themselves. It’s hard to imagine being the only adult at school day by day, having no other adults to talk with about “life” in the classroom, unless the school is fortunate to have a teacher’s aide! Yet, these outstanding teachers work diligently to proclaim the love of God to their students and their communities! Although teachers everywhere deserve greater appreciation for their service, one-room school teachers do it all—from administration to the task of teaching every subject to every student in every grade. And when done well—wow, it’s phenomenal to see!
For example, there’s the Bayberry school on Cape Cod. Jen Case, principal/teacher, John Piroski, pastor of the Cape Cod church, and a strong school board provide a haven of excellence for their students! This year 18 students are enrolled. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Case and her supportive teacher’s aide, Dini Jeltema, these students are blossoming in a learning environment that every child should have the privilege of experiencing!
At Berkshire Hills school located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Mark Bugbee, principal/teacher and Dennis Farley, pastor of the Berkshire Hills church, along with another strong school board, provide a varied educational atmosphere that oozes success—from learning in the classroom to learning in the great rural outdoors!
Another outstanding one-room campus is Maranatha Adventist Regional school (MARS) located in Willimantic, Connecticut. Tami Todd, principal/teacher, took God at His Word and made the impossible, possible. Beginning the school year with only one child, this school now hosts 12 students. Richard Pinero, pastor of the Willimantic church, and the school board had a vision, and now students are learning the joy of our Christian faith!
Finally, but by no means least, Wachusett Hills in Gardner, Massachusetts, is guided by Edie Conrad, principal/teacher. Mrs. Conrad faithfully works endless hours every day to provide the best for her students. She, too, is blessed with the faithful support of Einar Rom, pastor of the Gardner church, and the school board there as they uphold the strength of Christian education!
These are only four examples of teachers who minster in one-room schools, but all teachers in this category are the unsung heroes of Christian education! They arrive at work on time every day, perform their duties faithfully, are “experts” in each grade and each subject, value their students as individuals, and are involved in the activities of their churches. By the grace of God, they master what could be an overwhelming challenge and bring forth order, creativity, and students who are happily involved in learning.
Although all teachers should be appreciated for what they do in the classroom; all pastors who support Christian education in word and action need to be thanked; and all school board chairs and board members are to be commended for their sacrifice of time. Today, we say to the teachers in our one-room schools, “You are greatly appreciated! We honor you for all you do to demonstrate the love of God, and we thank you for teaching on the frontline of Adventist education!”
Pat Giese is the Southern New England Conference superintendent of schools.