2010 CSAA Conference Offers the Best in "Sooner" History
The accolades keep coming! A beautiful state, friendly people, compelling presentations, a host of restored schoolhouses, and a wealth of history...what more could we ask of the 2010 CSAA conference held recently at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha? Thirty states were represented at the conference that offered 26 individual presentations and the opportunity to visit six restored schoolhouses during the three-day event. Oklahoma greeted us with near 100 degree days, but attendees kept their cool on the meticulous campus, while being treated to excellence in programming and fabulous cuisine!
Loretta Jackson, African American historian and founder of the Loretta Y. Jackson Historical Society, promoted the conference in Grady County to share the historical importance of the Verden Separate School, the one-room schoolhouse she saved from demolition and helped to preserve. Jackson also led the commemoration of the 100th Year Anniversary of the school that was attended by over 100 schoolhouse supporters.
The Verden School received their CSAA Landmark Schoolhouse plaque acknowledging their acceptance into the Country School Association of America schoolhouse registry of significant historic schools.Throughout the conference Jackson exhibited a special contagious enthusiasm, the kind that garners the interest and financial resources necessary to the success of such a preservation. Loretta and her friends were the driving force that brought about the moving, preservation and restoration of the Verden School. Built in 1910 by African American farmer Allen Toles on land he acquired in 1909 under the Homestead Act of 1862, the little schoolhouse and its history have survived the ravages of time and neglect.
Richard and Catharin Lewis of the West Bay Common School in League City, Texas orchestrated the two days of programming, registration process, and scheduling, as well as the all-day motor coach tour of five restored Oklahoma schoolhouses! Thanks to their dedication to detail and creative programming, the 10th annual conference exceeded CSAA's tradition of excellence! The Lewis team has been active in promoting the CSAA since 2005, when they attended the 5th conference in Barbourville, Kentucky and worked thereafter to help the group become a national organization. They both serve on the board of directors of the Country School Association of America, while curating the West Bay Common School that hosts thousands of visitors annually.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Ernest Holloway, President Emeritus of Langston University who attended a one-room school as a boy. He shared many experiences of his school days and made observations about where education has moved since then. His sage advice included, "Start over with what you gave up," and "Go forward by reaching back." He is an advocate of holding parents and students accountable for attaining a quality education and emphasized the need for more student responsibility. He was affable and entertaining while delivering a serious message of getting back to the basics in teaching and learning.
In addition to schoolhouse history, the group traced a wealth of Oklahoma history, hearing stories of the Oklahoma Land Rushes, Native American history, African American history, the Trail of Tears, the "sooners", the Chisholm Trail, oil, and the Dustbowl.
The ever-popular bus tour took the group to Harn Homestead, the Cherokee Strip Museum, the Chisholm Trail Museum visiting five beautifully preserved schoolhouse museums: Stoney Point Schoolhouse, Rose Hill School, Possum Holler School, Gant School and the 1889 Territorial School. See photos below in IMAGES OF OKLAHOMA.
Tim Poteete, an Oklahoma historian, regaled the bus tourists with vignettes on the grit of Oklahoma settlers, mules, weather, adding entertaining stories of bravery, tragedy, outlaws, heroes, local characters, politicians, and geography. This was a show in itself!
A live performance highlighted Tuesday evening's dinner, with the moving presentation of A Room with Vision. This original story of the Verden Separate School as told through the eyes of various characters was written by W. Jerome Stevenson and performed dramatically and flawlessly by DeLanie Brewer.
Program Information and Photos
For a look at the complete program guide for the 2010 CSAA Country Schoolhouse Conference click on the following link. This guide details information on presentations, presenters, and schoolhouse tour. You may wish to keep this in mind for next year's conference to be held at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. It offers a look at the content and range of topics in our program.
Photos Above: Top: Verden School, Middle: Loretta Jackson receives Landmark School plaque from Richard Lewis of CSAA; Group: (L-R) Oklahoma State Senator Ron Justice, USAO President John Feaver, Loretta Jackson, Dr. Ernest Holloway, Chickasha Mayor Henry Ross; Bottom: Eleanor Ent and Dr. Veronica Ent demonstrate and construct stereographs used in early schools.
2010 Country School Conference Photos....Acccess YouTube below: