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Attending Iron Hill School #112C

Early memories and written accounts from those who attended Iron Hill School #112C describe an exciting time when school days consisted of both responsibility and learning. Interviews with Iron Hill Alum were carried out from 2003-2010 by the Delaware Academy of Science, Iron Hill Museum. Minnie Ryder is noted to have taught at Iron Hill School c.1940- 1950s. Ryder had the sole responsibility of teaching grades one through six. Alum from this time in history remember the Board of Education sending both a nurse and dentist to the school when needed. Close to thirty students are said to have attended the one room schoolhouse at a given time. Prior to Minnie Ryder, a “Miss. Boddy” taught at Iron Hill School; whose job consisted not only as educator, but also nurse, and cook.


Interviews such as those with William Smoot describe the school day beginning with the Pledge of Allegiance, and prayer. Alum Evelyn Earl, who attended Iron Hill School c.1944- 1950, remembers the morning routine including the reading of the daily news, which was written on the chalk board. The educator at that time, Minnie Ryder, would then begin teaching a lesson to one or two grades at a time, only moving on to another grade level once the lesson was complete and school work was provided. Alum William Smoot recalls learning arithmetic, history, and English while attending Iron Hill School c.1940s. Recreational reading was often incorporated into the school day as well. The Board of Education supplied Iron Hill School with second hand reading material. Students could choose from a small collection of fiction and non-fiction from a shelf within the one room school house.


Students attending Iron Hill School #112C would receive short intermissions from their school work, and often played outside on the playground. Evelyn Earl describes receiving a fifteen minute break in the morning and afternoon if the weather was nice. They would play school yard games such as jacks, cards, crack-the-whip, and baseball. If the weather was not pleasant, the students would play fun activities inside such as reading activities or games.


Students were expected to keep their desk area tidy, clean the schoolhouse interior, help maintain the schoolhouse gardens, and even contribute toward the school lunch by bringing one food item from home. A soup would have been prepared on the stove as a meal for lunch. School lunches sometimes consisted of soup, which was cooked and prepared within the schoolhouse. Alum Dorothy Grinnage, who attended Iron Hill School c.1937-1943, says “each child would bring something to go in the pot. It cooked on top of the stove”. Interviews from alum explain having school chores such as cleaning the interior windows, washing the blackboards, and annually oiling the hardwood floors. These responsibilities were sometimes assigned based on gender. Oral accounts describe the cleaning of the schoolhouse interior to be assigned to the female students, and grounds maintenance to be the responsibility of the male students.


Interviews with past alum illustrate a narrative of school days filled with learning, fun, and laughter. While describing their time attending Iron Hill, alum speak of a sense of community. This community consisted not only of those living in proximity of Iron Hill, but also of the students and teachers, who spent years of their lives learning together in the one room schoolhouse.

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