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Uncle Jack Fultz’s Memories of Carter County: School Days

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

School last year wasn’t what we were used to. While the district is trying to get back to something normal, this year has already had its fair share of days that were less than traditional. NTI (non-traditional instruction) is here to stay in some form or fashion – either as take home assignments or online work, or both – at least for days when COVID exposure leads to classroom quarantine. 

With the growth of online learning, even if school never transitions completely to online, there could be a day in the future where there are no more snow days or rain days. Instead, kids will log on during these weather events and attend classes virtually, just as they did last year for COVID. 

It definitely won’t be what we remembered growing up. But then, what we remember differed slightly from what our parents remember. And significantly more from what their parents remembered. Depending on how old you are, a parent or grandparent may have even gone to a one-room schoolhouse where students of several different ages and ability levels all learned together.

The modern school, as we envision it today, isn’t really more than 100 years old in some parts of our region. 

The Olive Hill Public School first opened its doors in September of 1921, and the Carter County Herald took it upon themselves to remind readers that it was their duty to encourage scholarship – and not to belittle schools, teachers, or curriculum in the presence of their children, lest they negatively influence their attitude toward school. If they had issues with any aspect of their child’s education, the Herald encouraged them to, “go to the school authority and state your criticisms,” directly, rather than “poison (a child’s) mind against his friends and help him to despise the thing he most needs.”

They also reminded parents that they needed to take attendance seriously, and provide excuses for any absences, so that teachers could comply with state laws regarding truancy and attendance. 

On the opening day of The Olive Hill Graded Public School they had “about 400 pupils” enrolled, “the largest ever on a first day,” owing in great deal to state laws that made it compulsory for all children between the ages of seven and 16 to attend school. 

So, while school today, and in the future, might not look the same as our schooling did, schooling as we know it is fairly new in the grand scheme of history. Who knows what tomorrow may bring to education? One thing is certain, though, education is still key to our children’s success, and parents need to do well not to “poison (their) minds” against it. 

W.F. Fultz and the Herald had that one right. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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