My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A New Amish Schoolhouse

In early September I found myself in a new Amish schoolhouse in the area.  I had an hour to kill while my Amish companion talked to the builders about a water system, so I wandered around and took some photos.

It was a rare opportunity to be in a brand-new schoolhouse—one of over 100 Amish schoolhouses which can be seen in the Lagrange-Elkhart-Noble county area.  (I have written about Amish schools a number of times, starting with this post.)

Inside, I found this wall display, below.  It’s a good indication of the typical first names of the next generation of Amish kids.  Since last names are so few and repeated—20% of the local population are named “Miller” and probably nearly as many are named “Bontrager” or “Yoder”—parents sometimes get creative with the first names.

 Four of these beautiful hardwood units (below) separated the back of the schoolhouse from the classroom area in the front.  The back side had hooks and shelves for the children’s coats and things, and the front side had shelving and cabinets for books and school supplies, as well as serving as benches.  The units were on casters, so they could be moved aside for school programs and other special events.

Here is the classroom area.  Notice the double set of alphabet posters (in upper case, lower case, and old German script).  This is because most schoolhouses have two teachers, and the classroom is divided down the middle by a movable curtain.  Each teacher is responsible for four grades.  Occasionally there is a smaller special education classroom off to the side.

Light is provided by piped-in gas, as well as the large number of windows down each side.

Many newer Amish schoolhouses have living quarters for the teachers.  This one was no exception, with a kitchen which led to a living room, two bedrooms with closets, and a full bath.  (The classroom area had two more half-bathrooms for the students.)  The kitchen could also be used for refreshments after school programs and other events.

Something I didn’t expect:  a copier!  I asked my companion where the power came from, and he said it was collected from the solar panels on the roof.  I’d not seen one of these in an Amish school before.

Outdoors, there was a horse barn, along with a baseball backstop out back and some playground equipment out front.  Most children would either walk to school or ride a bicycle, but some ride in pony carts or even full-sized horses and buggies.

Several new Amish schoolhouses are built in this area every year, and this was a good example of what the newest ones look like.

More on Amish schools in a series starting here.

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