Schoolhouse closed – Headmistress named American hero

A one-room schoolhouse that taught black children in South Carolina for the last 97 years is closing due to budget problems, the Associated Press reported on June 2.

For 53 years, until her death in 1992, Ruby Middleton Forsythe was headmistress of the Holy Cross-Faith Memorial School, as it is formally called. In the 1980’s, Newsweek magazine named Miss Ruby an American hero for teaching generations of students in 11 grades at the school.

“I really don’t think the community realizes what it’s losing,” said Carolyn Wallace, a 1951 school graduate who succeeded Miss Ruby as headmistress.

Miss Ruby’s philosophy was not to charge tuition. That meant the school had to raise about $30,000 per year. The headmistress is the only paid employee, AP reports.

The 35 students currently enrolled in Miss Ruby’s School will be sent to other schools.

In 1997 there were about 1,600 one-room schools throughout the United States. That figure has remained relatively stable as new private schools open and public schools close, said Mark Dewlap, education professor at Winthrop University and an expert on one-room schools.

For a full text of the article, go to the Associated Press.

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