Monday, July 4, 2011

Evelyn Groom Recalls Teaching at Denver School

Denver held an open house for their two-story schoolhouse Sunday afternoon and is continuing the process of restoring the old schoolhouse and turning it into a museum. Currently, they are about to start painting the building. More work needs to be done on the inside and some of the windows need to be replaced. LaDora Combs and others have put together a lot more historical records in the last year including records of Denver businesses as well as records of many of the rural schools including Sheridan, Allendale, and Worth. The Carnegie Library in Albany donated a microfilm reader that will be used for people who want to read microfilms in the future; Ms. Combs said she has many of those. There are also many newspaper clippings about Denver as well as information about the original settlement of Denver back in 1840.
Present at the open house was Evelyn Groom, who taught at the Denver School from 1960-1964, when it closed. After the Denver School closed, she taught at the Worth County School until her retirement in 1992; she taught first through 3rd grade at Denver. She has taught most of the people who grew up in Worth County at one time or another. Prior to Denver, she had taught all the grades at Amity and had taught grades 3 and 4 in Allendale at the age of 18. In total, she taught for 41 years.
Groom said one of the biggest changes that she had was from teaching many different grades to one grade.
She said that it became a lot easier to teach when she only had to do one lesson plan instead of several. She said that the big challenges that she faced in Denver were the lack of technology. For instance, back in those days, there was one phone at the front of the building and you had to call the operator and get her to connect you to the outside world. She only had one blackboard to work with and relied a lot on the workbooks that the school used.
Once she became teacher at Worth County, she taught with Vanda Terry and they could do a lot of things together that they couldn’t have done in the earlier one-room schools given the fact that they only taught one grade instead of several.
Recently, Ms. Groom celebrated her 80th birthday and got two dozen roses “from your most difficult student,” who turned out to be Chuck McCrary. She says she hears from a lot of her students.
If there was any lesson most likely to be learned by students who had Ms. Groom, it is to live life to the fullest. Despite being 80, she is starting a new life as she will be marrying John Ruby this August and will move with him down to Nixa, MO. She had been going to dances where she met Mr. Ruby. “I feel just as young as I did when I was 30,” she said. “People can have a great time no matter how old they are.”
A free meal was served and a local group of people played patriotic music.
Galen Ruckman, who grew up going to the Denver school, said it was the greatest place on earth to grow up. “We entertained ourselves,” he said of the days before kids had Internet or cell phones or TV. Ruckman went to Denver school for 10 years and had Gwanetha Parman and Dean Tandy as teachers. Ms. Parman later married Ed Girling of Sheridan. “Parman was a really good teacher who was very patient with us,” said Ruckman. “We could be really rowdy, but she was strict on discipline. Now, teachers can’t do anything anymore.” Of Ms. Tandy, who taught grades 1 through 3, Ruckman said, “She put the power to me and I’m glad of it.” Students were always expected to turn in their lessons promptly but Ruckman said he thought that he didn’t have to and told her so. He said he changed his mind in a hurry and was always the first to hand in his lessons after Ms. Tandy got done with him.
Ruckman said that he had a lot of fun doing track, basketball, and baseball. Baseball games were played outside the school building. Basketball games were played in a gym where you couldn’t put too much arch on your shots because the ceiling was so low; they would routinely play neighboring schools in athletic contests. Ruckman said that the teachers at Denver were really good about working with students as individuals; “If you needed help with something, they would give it to you,” he said.

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