Old School

Friday, August 12, 2011
T-G Photos by Tracy Simmons

Maintenance of educational buildings is often postponed from 'spring cleaning' to summertime. This year maintenance crews from the Bedford County Department of Education began the task of sprucing up the Central Office building, formerly the Madison Street Elementary School. Constructed in 1939, the building was part of the then-city school system, and was used as an elementary school through the 1970s. "You have no idea how often we have people stop in and say, 'Could I just look around? I went to (elementary school) here," said Betty Farrar, supervisor of elementary instruction. Once there, they walk around and delightedly point out their first grade classroom, or the library where they were introduced to a love of reading. "We had a vision to make this building function like the Central Office, but keep the look of the school it once was," said Supt. Dr. Ray Butrum, who credits the talent of the maintenance crew for being able to carry out the project with minimal expense. Several pieces of furniture and classroom items have been moved out of storage and placed in the main hallway of the building for visitors to enjoy. Among the items moved from the top shelf in a storage vault was Volume 1 of the Bedford County Board of Education meeting minutes -- which document board actions from July 11, 1921 to April 30, 1948. It was in that leather-bound record that Missy Eakin, student support coordinator for the school system, discovered the notation indicating the hire of her parents Deery and Ruth Eakin. "It was almost emotional," she said as she touched their typewritten names. "We look back to when schools were still one or two rooms and we think 'how simple things were then' -- but then I realize that as educators they face many of the same struggles as we do today." "They had the latest technology, too," said Farrar. "Maybe it was just chalk and a board to write on, but they used all the tools they had to provide a great education."