The Little School is a vanishing way of life for rural America. At one time, these building dedicated to teaching the “younger” generation were dotted over the landscape.Many can still be seen but now they are abandoned and the house livestock or are used for storage.
The Pleasant Ridge School came to the Historical Society from Mr. & Mrs. Marcus Stickle, southwest of Knoxville, and was the personal project of an ex-Marion County teacher, Mrs. Jessie Davis Adams, who was responsible for the restoration of the schoolhouse. The school dates from 1874 and was originally white but, in keeping with tradition, had been painted red like many of the older buildings. The schoolhouse has since been repainted white, the original color.
If the general store was the hub of existence for a community, the school was the center of the community for its social life and learning. It didn’t matter that teacher had only an 8th grade examination certificate given by the county superintendent, she (occasionally he) was THE TEACHER. Here student of all ages met to study reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, history, and music. These were the subjects covered, if textbooks of the time are any indication. The parents met at the school for programs at Christmas, spelling bees, box suppers, community sings, amateur plays, and pie and ice cream socials. It was truly the social center of the community. The teacher was hired by the term, be fall, winter, or spring, and early on was paid the magnificent sum of $10 to $40 per month.
The school was furnished with an old potbellied stove, desks for small to large students, teacher’s desk, globe of the world, maps, blackboards, and chalk, some teaching aids, clock, organ where possible, water bucket and roller towel, and inevitably a picture of George Washington.
As student from the old schools come back to see the Little Schoolhouse, you hear stories of bullets in the stove, mice and snakes in the teacher’s desk, girl’s braids dipped in the ink wells, skunks under the building, live chickens in the toilets, etc. All must not have been serious learning. You also hear of standing in the corner, spankings, and other choice methods of making one behave.
There are many pictures of school classes around the walls of various Marion County schools. Your parents or grandparents may be found in one of them. The names of previous Marion County teachers are displayed and, at times, new ones are added as someone “remembers”.