The following excerpt was written by Mrs. Gertrude Barber from a transcript of a speech read to the Union County Teacher's Institute in 1887 titled, "Where and How the Writer Taught School 40 Years Ago". The school she is speaking of may be the Elting's Corner School located in New Paltz, NY. Reprinted in a New Paltz paper in 1887.

"....The school room as I have said, was small. The door opened into a small entry, where were hooks and nails to hang the scholars' caps and hats on. The room was not ceiled above, there were only four windows, but these were of good size and so arranged as to make no cross light, and it was always light enough, excepting a dark afternoon in the winter. In the middle of the room was a Franklin stove, with a pipe nearly as large as a man's body, and the boys, if they arrived there before I did in the morning, would amuse themselves and irritate me by running a rail up the pipe, thus making the hot regions above instead of below. The desks were very old-fashioned long ones, with seats in front of them; for the smaller ones, the seats were made of heavy slabs without backs.....

....My school was small the first summer, averaging only 18. I found many things in the school that did not please me, but as I was young, only 18, and although a distant relative of most of the people, an entire stranger to nearly all, I did not think it prudent to make changes quickly. Among the first things we had a blackboard, and back made for the seats for the smaller ones, and then a new stove placed on the plate of the old one, which made a good place for warming feet.....

....Steel pens were brought into use during the time I taught, but as I had always used a quill, I did not like them. It was a great deal of work to make all the pens and write all the copies, besides making nearly all the copybooks. I do not think I saw a half a dozen copybooks with copies in them during the ten years I taught.....

....What to do with the smaller scholars while the older ones were reading or reciting soon perplexed me. In summer they could play out a good part of the time, but in unpleasant weather they must be kept in. I bought a dozen small slates and gave them to them for about an hour each day in forenoon and afternoon; sometimes I wrote their names on them and you will be surprised to see how quickly they learned to write. Sometimes I made figures on the blackboard for them to copy....."


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