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.
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.