|Sanford Village one-room schoolhouse, 1897|
by Janet I. Martineau
Surprise fact... today about a dozen one-room schoolhouses are still engaged in educating students in Michigan.
Avid historian Kyle Bagnall will discuss them and their vanished or revamped cousins during the Wednesday, Sept. 7, Nurturing Nature series program on “Michigan’s One-Room Schoolhouses.” His presentation begins at 7 p.m. at the Green Point Environmental Learning Center, 3010 Maple in Saginaw .
“The Michigan One-Room Schoolhouse Association has completed an inventory of more than 7,000 schoolhouses in our state,” says Bagnall, the historian at the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland.
“Thousands of them still dot the landscape, though many are gone and a great number them have fallen into disrepair. Today, some in our area are being used as churches and private homes, museums, township halls and more.”
Bagnall says his program will provide a short overview of Michigan education history before focusing in on the one-room schools of mid-Michigan.
“When our State Constitution was drafted in 1835, Michigan quickly became a national leader in education. It’s good to remember where we’ve been as we consider the future of education in our state.”
Bagnall’s interest in historic schoolhouses began about 20 years ago when he was working on a college project about inactive cemeteries with abandoned one-room schools next door. “The schoolhouse proved too interesting to let be and another project was born.”
In the course of presenting the program over the years, Bagnall says members of his audiences add to the one-room schoolhouse stories from their own personal histories.
“Most stories from former one-room school kids (and teachers) recall subjects like recess, outhouses, and mischief that children (mostly boys) created over the years. Some things never change – kids will be kids!”
Admission to “Michigan’s One-Room Schoolhouses” is free to members of the Friends of the Shiawassee National Refuge and $2 to non-members. Support for the series is provided by the Jury Foundation, the Martineau Family Foundation and the Saginaw Branch of the Woman’s National Farm & Garden Association.