|THE KEENE STATE COLLEGE MAGAZINE FOR ALUMNI AND FRIENDS||VOLUME XX NUMBER 1 Fall 2004|
Keeping the school fires burning
At the Barnstead, N.H., schoolhouse, the girls and the boys had separate doors. A horse and buggy took the role of the yellow school bus, and boys wore knickers, not low-slung jeans. That was in 1930, when 18-year-old Doris Barnes '52 took her first teaching job, at the Beauty Hill School, a one-room school for grades one through eight. She would be an educator for the next six decades.
Doris, now 93 and a resident of Laconia, N.H., was honored recently for her lifetime of work in education with a proclamation and an engraved golden apple from N.H. Governor Craig Benson. A graduate of Aroostook State Normal School in Presque Isle, Maine, she taught in Barnstead for seven years, then Alton Central School, where she was also principal of grades four to eight, and then Gilford Middle School. She earned her bachelor's degree at Keene State College in 1952. She retired at the age of 80, but still volunteers at Laconia High School.
As her proclamation indicates, Doris was instrumental in establishing the EDies, New Hampshire's Excellence in Education Awards, begun 11 years ago. She has organized the annual banquet, made bookmarks and party favors, and instituted the "Wall of Fame" in the Department of Education for all the winners.
But to return to her first day of teaching, as she explained in an interview with The Laconia Citizen's Melanie Nelson, only five students showed up because the rest were out picking peaches. Later in the day, five more showed up, but only to see what she looked like. It was her job to get the fire going each day for heat, and there was no electricity. She remembers the impact when female teachers were allowed to marry in 1930. And, for the technology of the day, she recalls that left-handed scissors were developed in 1939.
Doris's experience with multigrades and classroom maintenance is echoed by many of Keene State's early grads, some of whom responded to a survey of Keene Normal School alumnae by Norma Wright Walker '51 (also see Class Notes). Mildred Curtis Byrne '26, who taught in North Weare, N.H., also had to keep the wood fire going and clean the schoolroom. And she boarded in the homes of her students.
Rosetta Brown Lowe '27 had to build the fire, clean the school, and make soup for lunch with the help of her students. Margaret Grover Colburn '27 remembers that her eighth-grade girls would arrive at school early to start the fire to heat the school. The boys would bring water for the students.
Catherine Moore '24 taught grades five and six for many years in Connecticut. One year, there were 44 students enrolled in her class and three of the boys were six feet tall.
Stella Redal Randoy '27 taught grades three and four in Minnesota, where she had 30 students. She stressed reading, writing, and arithmetic with each class. Elizabeth "Betty" Harrison Thomas '27 began her teaching career at Wallace School in Marlborough, N.H., where she had 12 students in grades one through eight. She was the principal and teacher, and planned all the school activities.
Kathleen Davison Jackson '29 had her first job in Rindge, N.H., where she taught all subjects for grades five, six, seven, and eight. Muriel Aldrich Lane '29 was interested in music as a student at Keene Normal School, but at that time there wasn't a degree in music. She taught music to students in kindergarten through grade 12, put on concerts and operettas, and also gave violin lessons.
Imogene Barnum Magison '28 had 16 students in grades five through eight in Francestown, N.H., for her first teaching position. She was responsible for teaching all the subjects but music, and she taught basketball skills at morning and noon recesses. Imogene taught there for only two years because it was local policy to hire for only that period to avoid salary increases.
Elizabeth Welch '28 taught in Danbury, N.H., where she had grades one through eight. For sweeping the floor and making the fire to warm the room, she earned a little extra money.
Like their counterparts today, Keene Normal School teachers were indeed a multi-talented lot with much more than academic concerns facing them each day. To all of them we offer a figurative golden apple for a difficult job well done.