Monday, July 14, 2014

Four early Lincoln County teachers describe a different kind of community classroom

by  Dianne Stallings

    Careers in education appear to be on a downslide, based on complaints of low pay, federal over-regulation, lack of parental backing and rules that ban everything from hugging a pupil and exercising discipline to baking cupcakes for classroom celebrations.
     But in 1991, four of Lincoln County's teachers from the 1920s to 1940s, the late Herbert L. and Alice Traylor, Wynema "Meme" H. Tully and Marie Hull Rooney spoke about far more daunting challenges when they gathered to reminisce for an article to appear in the Ruidoso News.
     "School was the center of social life," Rooney said. "We were one big family and we all got along fine. The schoolhouse was the community center at Christmas. We performed plays and music."
    Times were simpler then, because the community was too preoccupied with survival to worry about the problems that come with idle time and extra money.
    "We had no problems compared to what teachers have today," Tully said. "I listen to teachers now and they tell horrible tales. We had a fun time. We played with our students and threw snowballs with them. Then we socialized with their parents at dinners where the best baked pies were served, and we all got together for student plays and programs."
    "And the parents stood right behind you on everything," Alice Traylor added.
    A teacher was responsible to cover all subjects for the two or three grade levels in her or his classroom.    Principals usually doubled and tripled as teachers, school nurses and school janitors, Tully said.
    Rooney, who did not have a college degree, earned $80 a month in 1934, a sum that delighted her.
    "We didn't have any money then and $80 was enough to buy anything I needed," she said.
    Tully, who earned a junior college degree, was paid $110 a month.
    "We worked for a year for half of what teachers get now in one month," Herbert Traylor said.
    The children were willing to put in extra time too. They stayed after school to help clean the classrooms and to learn music from Rooney, the only child of Jack Hull, who attended a music conservatory before moving to Ruidoso. The older children also helped with younger students, because back then no one ever heard of a teacher's aide.

White Oaks school is still standing

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