The one-room Amish schoolhouse emerged over the sloping hill as Lavina’s ride the school provided sped along the side of the Lancaster County corn fields, the crop ripe for harvest. At the schoolhouse, she scrambled out of the car and hurried inside for her first day of teaching school.
Only eighteen years old, Lavina knew little about teaching, but she felt ready to learn and make a difference in the lives of her students.
An Amish school in Lititz community had needed a teacher, and she had needed a classroom, so it was a perfect fit! She wanted to do something worthwhile with her life and this is where that desire brought her: shaky with nerves but overwhelmed with excitement.
The First Day
In her hand, Lavina held the schedule for the day, and every day after that: Devotions, then hymnal singing. Math for all eight grades before a 15-minute, well-deserved recess.
Then English and lunch followed by reading class and a second recess; the day would finish with spelling at around 2:30 p.m.
Did you know that Amish teachers manage all eight grades and the various subjects in a one-room schoolhouse? Often, teachers have older students take turns helping them teach and manage the classroom for the day.
The classroom surged with the chatter of English and Pennsylvania Dutch. While some Amish children learn English before attending school, many learned their first few formal English sentences in the schoolroom.
Lavina packed the first day full of introductions, expectations, and information on the needed school books and supplies. The children buzzed with excitement as they shared about their summer adventures. While she didn’t have any formal training, she had attended some teacher’s classes the past summer. Now that Lavina had started to teach, she burst with excitement for the classes she would attend throughout the coming school year.
|| Learn more about Amish Education. ||
Random Fact: Amish children usually don’t have homework so that they can help with the farm and household chores after school. Sometimes, though, if students are struggling in a certain subject they will take some home some school work to study.
Soon the days blended together as the fall sun sank faster into the evening sky each day. The air grew tinged with cold as fall became winter and then spring arrived with a burst of warm weather. For three years, she taught and learned, gave and grew.
The Last Day
Before long May began and the children bounced restlessly on their seats, distracted in their eager anticipation for summertime. But for Lavina, these moments of her teaching career felt bittersweet — her last days teaching these children. She would remember them by their little notes of encouragement, bringing joy to her teachers’ heart, by their silly questions and endless energy. Lavina smiled, remembering the days she spent with her head in her hands, frustrated by the disorder and rowdy behavior of some of her students. Yet these children had become a part of her life and in the years that followed, they would remain there: bright-eyed and eager to learn.
As Lavina packed up her teaching supplies that last afternoon, she marveled at the past three years. It seemed that while the children learned academics, she learned about life and what it meant to be a part of the school family, working with her Amish community to help educate their children. While no longer a teacher, Lavina knew she would always feel a part of that family; the one that provides, loves and grows with each other. Today, you can find Lavina working at the counter of our Intercourse store or helping run the Peaceful Valley Furniture stand at Roots Country Market on Tuesdays.