Beginning a Community School

Sam F. Stack

in The Arthurdale Community School

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print March 2016 | ISBN: 9780813166889
Published online September 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780813167855 | DOI:
Beginning a Community School

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This chapter chronicles the first year of the establishment of the Arthurdale School within the Arthurdale subsistence homestead. The West Virginia Advisory Committee, whose members included a mix of individuals from the public schools and higher education, helped Clapp develop a school policy to meet community needs. Homesteaders and school officials agreed on the philosophy of the school, a philosophy based more on experience, interest, and local culture than on a traditional teacher/text-centered focus. The nursery school, for example, nurtured creativity and imagination through the use of block play, familiar to Clapp through her work at the City and Country School in New York under the direction of Caroline Pratt. The nursery school was financially supported by the philanthropist Bernard Baruch and was considered an important experiment in early childhood education in West Virginia. The chapter also addresses efforts by Arthurdale educators to integrate music and Appalachian culture in the school curriculum and the life of the community in general. Unfortunately, the Arthurdale community found itself the source of controversy as the well-known educator William Wirt called it socialist and challenged New Deal reformers and the Roosevelt brain trust. Regardless of the controversy and the resultant media circus, the Arthurdale School educators continued their work and sought to use the school to give homesteaders in the community a sense of identity and place.

Keywords: West Virginia Advisory Committee; William Wirt; Gary School; Nursery school; Fletcher Collins; Block play; Bernard Baruch; Clarence Pickett; Caroline Pratt

Chapter.  11169 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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