Grit Blogs > Country at Heart

Having School in the Church

Country at HeartIf you've never lived in the country and especially an Arkansas "country," you have no idea how wet and muddy the ground can become after the dark, blue skies cry for several days. I mean, a few good sky-emptiers. Our school was on about 100 acres of land and the school sat back a distance from the road.

Amazingly, there was a long, wide concrete walkway from the school steps to the bus stop but there was no concrete nor paved driveway to the school itself. I always wonder why whoever built the school didn't put a decent road for the buses and cars or at least build the school on the highway. Well, anyway, the road that the bus traveled on appeared to have been "made" by the intentional driving of the bus operator. But there was no deliberate roadway. So, during winter months when it seemed to rain forever, this "road" became a wide, muddy, indistinguishable swatch of land that no vehicle could travel on.

a muddy road

Photo: Fotolia/berezko

It got so bad that finally, the school closed and we were bused to our little country church. This was quite a weird set-up, because at least at school, there were three classes in each room, but now all six classes were in one large room.

You've heard the expression, "making do with what you have." The church became the building that we "made do" with, and your guess is as good as mine as to how well we pupils learned in that environment and whether or not the teachers took turns teaching her class while the other students just sat listening in. Well, that is one way to learn, but no doubt the sixth graders became bored listening to the first graders' lessons all over again. How about this expression, “You don’t know as much as you think you know.” So, at least if the older students missed something, this was a chance to travel back in time and pick up on it again. As the old saying goes, "We learn by repetition."

But instead of being studious, I'm sitting there daydreaming that we're in actual church listening to the hymns, saying "amen" to the prayers and waiting for the preacher's sermon to start. Then, all of a sudden, I hear, "Wilma!" "Yes, Miss Teacher." "Can you name the vowels.? "Uh! Yes, Ma'am. P and..." "Is 'p' a vowel." "No, Ma'am...I don’t guess so." "Never mind, Wilma. Little Johnny, can you recite the vowels?" "Yes, Ma'am." "A, e, i, o, u..." "Thanks, little Johnny. And Wilma, dear, we may be in the church house, but we're actually in school, so pay attention." That episode is just a figment of my powerful imagination.

I think we had school in church for a week, then all of us – teachers and reluctant students – were bused back to our little lonely country school house where it was again, business, or school, as usual.