Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jean : Susans first day at school, and the difference's between public schools and old order Mennonite schools.

Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State.Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.

Time has sure past. David and I remember when Susan was born and today was her first day of school. She got to wear one of the new dresses, carried her new lunch box, had her pencils, crayons and paper that she got for her sixth birthday. Martha and Joseph take their wagon with their school age children to pick up the children on the way to school. Kids call it the buggy bus. Anyway they were coming to pick up Susan, but David and I decided to take her to school on her first day in our buggy. In out school First Grade is the first that school children go to-we don't have any pre-school. At school most of the first grade students have parents that go with them into school as we did Susan. We were concerned that Susan might be afraid or upset in some ways on her first day. We were wrong. Susan was glad to see her playmates-children she knew from church and were her neighbors. One of her friends was crying and Susan asked her what she was crying about. All her friends were there. The teacher is an Old Order Mennonite single lady who has been there for several years, attends our church and the children knew here before school. When it was time for us to leave Susan told us she would see us later.
I remember my first day of school, I got upset when my parents left but it didn't bother Susan at all although some of the other children were.

Susan is going to the same school that David and I went to but things have changed since we both went there. When we went to school there were outhouses, and a water pump on the side. Since then there has been  addition's and there is a girls restroom and boys restroom which include toilets and sinks. Our furnace was in the center of the room. It was a wood burner then coal. I remember when we were kids if we had anything that needed to be heated for lunch-we would set it on top of the furnace about a half hour before lunch time-when lunch time came it was all heated up ready to eat. Our lights were propane. The school now has oil heat and electric lights. The furnace is one of  the addition's that was put on. Now as before it has all the grades in one room. As Amish have moved in the area, but not enough to start their own school the children are Amish and Old Order Mennonite. Our student school books are the same that are used in the Amish schools-printed by the Amish. Also in our school, we now have a telephone that we didn't have when David and I were in school. It is for the teachers use or emergencies. We start earlier than public schools, but our schools get out earlier in the spring. Also our children go to school until 8th grade. We feel there is no need to continue their education after that. We also have a small barn our back for the teacher to put her horse and buggy.

If a special child is an Old Order Mennonite or Amish child they also attend our school. There are a couple mothers or single ladies that come in two days a week to give the special children extra time or instruction that the special children may need. Special children are started in first grade and go up in the grades as they can. All children special or not are treated alike. What I like about the one room school is that a child may be in first grade on a subject that they have a hard time with, second grade in a subject they are doing well in and maybe even third grade on a subject that is easy for them. Another thing is that the seventh and eight grade students sometimes help the lower grade students. If a student needs extra help and the teacher is busy with another grade or subject-she may ask one of the seventh or eight grade students to help the child.

Our teachers do not have a college education. They completed school at the eight grade like the other students. At age 16 they can become a teachers assistant for two years. When they have completed their two years as teachers assistant they can be hired by a school as a teacher. Teachers do not make as much as the teachers do in a public school-although the salaries have increased over the years. If a teacher is going to marry-then another teacher is looked to replace her. Things have also changed here. There are a very few but there are lady teachers who are married but do have children or their children are grown. Also, some of our schools have men teachers-they are few-but there are some. We do not have married or men teachers in our area.

We take care of our own schools. We do not accept tax money, public education money or anything like that from the public system. As a parent, we have to pay so much a year to support our school. It is the same price for anyone who has students whether you have one child going or like Martha who has  ten or more children going-we all pay the same. All the maintenance on the school is done by us. If the school needs to be painted, needs new drapes, needs a new roof or any other maintenance-we do it. We have a board of education of men parents who keep track of the school education wise, maintenance wise, student wise and more. As the state has certain education goals the students must achieve in each grade the board sees that the teacher meets these goals in her teaching. The students are given tests certain times a year to make sure our students are meeting these goals. When David and I were in school and now-the Old Order Mennonite and Amish usually not only pass the state goals but surpass them. Our students do better than the public schools do. Once a year we have a quilt sale, crafts sale, baked sale and more to raise money for the school. All the money from this sale and what we pay is set aside for the school repairs, phone bill, electric bill, oil, teachers salary and more.

We were concerned on how Susan was doing today in school. We went and picked her up in the buggy but she told us she wanted to ride the buggy bus-so Martha and Joseph will pick her up tomorrow. As we sat for cookies and milk for Susan while David and I had coffee Susan said she liked school. In fact, she can't wait to go back tomorrow. She is taking school better than David and I did. We didn't enjoy school likes she seems to. David and I were concerned for Susan all day as we didn't know what she would think. We are glad she enjoys it.

Michael does not know this but he is going back to us. His parents have been sentenced for many years in prison. Social Services wants him back with his friends and in the school he had been in. Michael will be going back to the public school. Michael knows he is being moved, but he doesn't know to where. We were asked if we would consider taking him back and David and I agreed. The funny part is that if we had refused him he would have gone to Martha and Joseph's so in a way he would be here anyway. We also haven't told Susan because we were afraid she might forget to keep it a secret and tell Michael during one of our phone calls to him. Michael knows he is going to a family that has three other children so he doesn't think it is ours. He does not know we have another foster child.

The little Foster Child baby that we received is getting so she doesn't cry as much as she use to. We were told because she has a drug baby they may find that she has problems as she gets older. This could be she is a special child, sight problems, hearing problems and more. She seems to be fine right now, but these could show up as she get older. We were asked to name her so after much thought, prayer and suggestions we have named her Rebeca Cynthia . That is not one of the names that was suggested. Her middle name is her mother's name. The papers have been signed by her mother and she will be going up for adoption.

David and I wish to thank you all for your contributions for the people of the Amish van accident and their families. Money is still coming in and is being used for their medical needs. Also, we would like to thank you for your comments, we really appreciate them.

I understand more recipes are wanted. Are their any special recipes that you might be interested in? Also , if you have any questions you would like to ask, please feel free.

Be With God,
Jean and Davids home  (Image's courtesy from Marilyn of New York)
The back of the house

Jeans barn with buggy inside

the food stand that Jean uses to sell her canned and baked goods.

New post on Wednesday called  "Random Wednesday"with a wet bottom shoo-fly-pie recipe.


I've created this website out of my own interest in the Amish/Mennonite culture and of living in the country. Its a place for people who are interested in the Amish like myself, and its also a place to share Images of the beautiful country side that is all around me. my name is Richard, and I live very close to an Amish settlement here in Pennsylvania. This site is dedicated to my mother, who had started all of this by taking me as a child to Lancaster,pa from our apartment in the Bronx projects..........THANK YOU MOM............... Richard