A modern relic

One-room school building in Jefferson, Colorado
Image via Wikipedia

These stories have nothing to do with higher ed, but I thought they were interesting. We often think of the one-room schoolhouse with a few kids as a relic of a bygone era. But in some parts of Wyoming, they’re just a fact of life. Distances to the nearest school in a town can be many, many miles and with the way winter works in these parts, busing can be a long, treacherous and sometimes implausible trip.

The whole concept is an interesting one to me.

Here’s an excerpt:

In minutes, the school goes from completely empty to full capacity, perfect attendance. All five students here.

With Douglas 36 miles southwest, Dry Creek is the closest school to the families who send their children here. It’s one of four rural schools in Converse County, and parents said home-schooling would likely be the only option if they didn’t have Kilpatrick and Dry Creek.

While some question the efficiency and cost of small Wyoming schools, parents said this school of five students, one teacher and one paraprofessional serves a real purpose for this rural community.

Sherrill Kilpatrick began teaching in rural Wyoming schools in 1983. Her largest class was 17 students, taught by two teachers. Once, she had nine students in eight different grades, which made lesson planning particularly challenging.

Over the years, numbers have fluctuated as parents choose either to home-school or send their kids to Douglas. Kilpatrick’s smallest class was two students big, when Maggie Pellatz was in kindergarten.

Here’s a related one with Wyoming politicians debating the efficiency of such school arrangements.

Realizing you don’t have to live in the city…

This article got me to thinking about my existence in the big bad city and how this year has been for me.

I think I had the expectation when I still lived in the micropolitan West that being in a big city area would be just the trick for me to start to do more of the things that I wanted to do. You know, branching out and meeting people. Networking and all sorts of other things that being isolated from a big metropolitan area (though admittedly, on the outskirts of one) make more difficult or challenging.

But piggybacking on an earlier post (or maybe, a future post..I don’t remember) about my company, its future and my future, the whole idea was borne out of a simple notion. I could assemble a group of really sharp people together to make something interesting happen. That’s probably too simplistic an idea in retrospect, but honestly, it worked precisely how I hoped it would. Maybe even better than I hoped, since the quality of people who rose above the fray were out of this world.

Anyway, on the whole living in the city versus not thing. I started this blog after I left Wyoming and began networking and doing more things online because I felt like it was important. The response has been great, but what I learned pretty early on is that all of the things I’ve done this year — the blog, Synonym — all of it, has been stuff I could’ve done had I stayed there.

The opportunities I was seeking to branch out and “put myself out there” in meaningful ways were right at my fingertips. Moreover, I already have a bevy of contacts there within the small, but (slowly) growing tech sector. The state is begging for people with ideas to decamp there and make things happen. Young people graduate the state’s only university and are looking for ways to stay at home after graduation.

There is something alluring about being a pioneer. About starting something in a place where other folks don’t tread or choose not to go. Now I’m not painting a skewed picture here at all. I have friends there and other links that make it a slightly more desirable place for me, but I hate the winter and I’m not really an “outdoorsy” guy. And playing tennis at 7,000 feet just does awful things for my game.

But the more I think about it, the more I’ve come to realize that it’s not all cut and dry after all. That there is more appeal to a place where you’re one of 500,000 as opposed to be an anonymous set of millions. Now the logistics of doing such things, requires you to be invested in a project that’s meaningful and actually doing something that works. It’s not Silicon Valley and even in the most prosperous of times, folks aren’t going to be opening their wallets to help you do much.

That said, there is a hunger to make something happen
. And I’ve been saying for years that there has to be something for going to a place where it hasn’t been done before, so you have to make it for yourself.

It’s alluring…and I never imagined it’d be calling me back.