Anoka County history: One-room school house curriculum

by Brian Boldt

The vacant District 28 school, a yellow brick, one-room school house sitting along Highway 47 in Ramsey, has a long history in the community.

A school house is not complete without making mention of its teachers.

Teachers were held in high esteem at District 28.

District 28 required a large amount of subjects for students.

A 1941-1942  report card showed the following subjects taught year round: English literature, language, grammar, spelling, penmanship, science, health, the environment, social studies, citizenship, math, music and industrial arts.

Often, in order to make these subjects flow, teachers would require the older students to teach to the younger.

Students were subject to discipline that was much more intense than today’s standards.

Methods such as hitting a student across the knuckles with a pointer or spanking their bottoms were the discipline of the time.

Teacher Ruth Stake’s class, however, had a different form of discipline when the entire school had to fold and cut paper dolls.

The older students purposely folded them the wrong way and when cut, the dolls fell to pieces.

To make matters worse, the older students influenced the entire school to leave at recess and they did.

According to Al Pearson, everyone had to stay after school for days upon days—folding and cutting paper dolls the correct way.

Discipline was not the decisive factor in teacher/student relationships.

Some teachers went out of their way for a student.

Joyce Brown Hollindar recalls that she was an avid reader and the books in the school’s small library were not enough for her interests.

Ruth Stake saw this and would go to the Anoka Library and check out books to further Brown Holliner’s interests as a reader.

Teachers were given choices concerning their living quarters.

Ruth Stake stated that she, along with other teachers, lived through the generosity of families within the community; however, she never made it a practice to live in a house involving any students.

The rural community of Ramsey Village was close enough to the larger confines of Anoka.

Often Anoka was a common place where teachers of District 28 held quarters.

But in terms of traveling outside the Anoka community, winter could trap them within their confines for weeks.

Regarding Christmas, those who had family homesteads outside of Anoka County were lucky to make it home.

District 28, itself, consisted of a population ranging a two–three mile radius of the school house.

Transportation took on many forms.

In the warm weather, many teachers walked to school.

But during the cold seasons they depended on other methods.

In its first year of 1894-1895, teacher Dorothy Stack traveled by horse and buggy.

Others took lumber-wagons and bob sleds.

As time went on, the invention of the engine came to be and the Model-T Fords along with milk trucks became of service.

As highways evolved, teachers went to more simplified methods: they took the bus or had their own vehicles.

Editor’s note: Brian Boldt is a volunteer for the Anoka County Historical Society.

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