Iowans who are working to preserve one-room schoolhouses in the state are gathering for an annual conference today.
In the early 1900s, there were more than 12,600 one or two room schools in Iowa. Bill Sherman, with the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance, says the teachers were usually young women who were in charge of students ranging in age from kindergarten through eighth-grade.
“The system was far from perfect, but I think it worked well and many teachers welcomed the challenge of educating young Iowans in a kind of crude environment,” Sherman said. Today, around 3,000 one-room schools are still standing in Iowa. Most of them are now homes or businesses, but 200 have been preserved as museums.
Sherman says another seven or eight schools are in various stages of preservation that will become museum structures in the future. Iowa has more established one-room school museums than any place in the country and is the only state with a grant program in place to help groups that want to preserve one-room schools. The 10th annual Country Schools Preservation Conference is being held today and Saturday in Independence.