One Room, One Teacher Wall of Honor
These teachers played a vital role in educating generations of rural Nebraskans under very difficult conditions. Their students went on to be the teachers, business leaders, scientists, physicians and so many others who helped make our state what it is today.
The College of Education and the University of Nebraska at Kearney are proud to acknowledge and honor the hard work and dedication of these outstanding educators through the One Room, One Teacher Program.
Doris A. Brust Fisher
Doris Brust always knew she wanted to teach. Because Shickley High School didn't have "normal training" she transferred to Sutton High School her junior and senior years of high school, staying in the home of her sister's mother-in-law and studying at night by the light of a kerosene lantern.
During her teaching career she coached many students to be excellent spellers, with many winners through the year at the Thayer County, District and State levels. One of her students won the Midwest Spelling Bee in Omaha and competed at the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC.
Quotes from former students and their parents about Doris Fisher:
"Doris Fisher was my favorite teacher. She set expectations and held us accountable for our actions, which prepared me for school, work and life."
"Of all my teachers at DHS, Mrs. Fisher remains at the top of my list. She always made it a point to make us better students. Make sure she remembers what an influence that she was to us."
"One night she called to ask me if there were any problems in the home. She said it was none of her business, but that my son's grades had been going down and she knew he was capable of doing better. If there weren't any problems, she would crack down on him. There weren't any problems and she did a terrific job of cracking down. Mrs. Fisher was the only teacher that knew the grades of my children without going to the grade book."
"I went to college for 13 and a half years and have multiple degrees and a Ph.D. I never had a teacher as good as Mrs. Fisher."
"The most firmly etched memory I have of Doris had to do with her ability to punt a football with her black high heels on. At the time, I'm pretty sure she would out distance every boy in the 3rd and 4th grades. Her more valuable contributions, however, were shaping the minds and work ethic of the students in her classroom. The lessons in life we learned at a young age were the lasting impression Doris will be remembered for and owed a measure of gratitude by many."
"Mrs. Fisher taught us respect for authority, accountability for our actions, responsibility for our own success, and set the bar high for us. Her calm, firm steady guidance gave us the assurance we could be whatever we dreamed of. Her laughter made it fun to learn, but we always knew the expectations were high and that she expected us to strive to do our very best. In short, we are the people we are, in no small measure because of Doris Fisher."
In March of 1950, I was looking forward to graduating from Red Cloud High School at the young age of 16. Our class had 32 graduates eventually five were going to be teaching one teacher schools by the next September.
That same early spring the school board for District #9 contacted me to see if I would be interested in teaching their school starting that fall.
The teacher the past year was an "Inside Teacher" with no outside supervision. A group of middle school aged boys created some problems. In one situation one of the boys fell from the top of the privy breaking his arm. The board decided they needed a man who would be outside with the pupils at recess and noon-time.
This teacher and the active boys got along well. The secret was to keep them occupied in their free time with softball, running games, etc. with their teacher right in the action.
At the school meeting we agreed on a contract ($160 for nine months) with the approval for my eighth grade brother and my first grade sister to attend District #9 under my tutelage.
The summer of 1950 I attended Kearney State Teachers College, earning 12 hours of college credit required to qualify for a temporary teaching certificate. The first day of school in September in 1950 found this 17 year old looking at 23 students kindergarten through eighth grade. The District #9 schoolhouse was a newer building with a full basement including a large coal burning furnace but no inside facilities.
That fall Webster County had 35 one teacher schools under supervision of County Superintendent Maurice McAvoy. I was able to stay at home earning my board and room helping with farm work and chores. My second year of teaching was spent at District #51 a classic school building with the potbelly stove in the middle of the room with just 10 students.
My third year of teaching was back at District #9 with 20 students and a salary of $250 for nine months. The third year I was determined to make our Christmas program something special. We learned the Flying Dutchman, the Mexican shuffle and a Texas Square Dance. The pupils worked all fall to learn the dances and by Christmas we were ready. A unique program that was a big hit with the performers and their parents.
The academic achievements of these rural students were impressive going into high school with no problems. Many of my pupils went on to interesting careers. Reminiscing some 60 years later – I don't know how the teacher in the One Teacher Schools did it -- BUT WE DID!!!!
Katherine Dorwart Lewallan
A crisp new teaching certificate and the beginning of my career. This was the fall of 1995. I will never forget the butterflies in my stomach as I walked into New Hope, District 153, a basement schoolhouse in rural Gothenburg, Nebraska. This was my very first teaching position and I would teach Kindergarten through eighth grade. New Hope had three board members, enrolled seven students and one parent taught music. Computer class was once a month. Hayes McGraw was both the principal and superintendent. He drove from Broken Bow to observe my classroom.
I was excited for the first day school and greeted my students outside at the top of the staircase. I was going to be tough and teach the children to value education. As the students entered, little did I realize they would teach me as much as I taught them. At 11:15 a.m. two students stood and went into the kitchen without permission. I intended to discipline them when one said, "Our lunch takes 45 minutes to cook in the oven." These students did more than just learn; they worked hard at school, then went home and worked on the family farm.
Some special memories from New Hope are: Alamo our pet iguana, anti-over, pump-pump-pull away, red rover and football played in the little grass lot by students of varying ages. The older students helped the younger ones while I taught specific lessons.
Every night I took a stack of teacher's manuals home nearly taller than I am to prepare for the next day. Carpet lined our walls which was perfect for pinning up class work. Each Friday, I drove the students into Gothenburg for weekly library book checkout, an art activity, and pizza with County Line School.
Our Christmas pageant and potluck dinner attracted so many farm families that our schoolhouse was packed full. Another big event was the Custer County Music Competition held in Broken Bow. This was something we looked forward to every year. New Hope always celebrated traditional holidays with parties. The kids wished we would get a big snowstorm so that we could all spend the night at school. One of our fondest field trips was to Sidney, Nebraska, where my father was county judge.
The sheriff locked us in the jail.
This marks my 19th year of teaching. I will always be thankful for the time I spent at New Hope School and will cherish relationships I built there forever. I am confident that the life lessons learned in a one-room school far outweigh anything I will ever have the opportunity to witness again in my educational career.