Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Jana Mathia
Gazette Staff 

Old school learning at Jones School


August 30, 2018 | View PDF

For those struggling with common core arithmetic, a reprieve is available at the Jones Schoolhouse at the Palouse Empire Fair this year.

“We’re not teaching new math at the schoolhouse,” said Kathy Meyers, a long-time Whitman County Historical Society member and teacher at the schoolhouse. Instead, Meyers and her fellow teachers and docents teach more the history of math, including Roman numerals.

“Some of them (visitors) have never had Roman numerals,” she noted.

During the fair, the interior of the schoolhouse will revert to the year classes were first held in the the one-room schoolhouse which was located near Dusty.

“We try to provide an 1895 experience,” Meyers said. The “teachers” are dressed for 1895. Maps, books and discipline match the time.

“What we do is living history,” Meyers said.

Thursday is set aside for third graders who visit from area schools for the day. The teachers in the old school conduct mini-lessons for the elementary guests, then offer the same curriculum afterward for the rest of the public that comes to visit.

Subjects include history, poetry, science, geography, math and penmanship.

“Penmanship is really fun,” she said, noting it is the most requested class. Rather than hold to a set schedule for lessons, the teachers swing into action upon request or when there is a sufficient amount of students.

The Jones Schoolhouse usually draws more than 800 visitors during the run of the fair. Although it has been going on for about seven years, Meyers has not seen interest in it wane at all.

In addition to the lessons, the schoolhouse also has a display dedicated to one-room schoolhouses that once dotted the county. The historical society has about 100 photos of one-room schoolhouses that it rotates through the display at the fair.

“We have more than we put on display,” Meyers said, so there are always new ones on display.

Many people don’t even know about the historical opportunities inside, but are drawn by the schoolhouse itself. Meyers recalled people who have been driving by the fair, saw the red schoolhouse standing at its center and pulled over to attend the fair just to get to the schoolhouse.

One new feature this year is the addition of inkwells donated by Dan and Joyce Leonard of Johnson.

The schoolhouse has also increased its display of old school books for this year’s fair.


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