Caldwell, KS Couple Saves Belleview Schoolhouse and Find Friends at CSAAby Valerie Brunhoeber
This June, I was so excited to get to go to the Country School Association of America Conference in Ankeny, IA that I was packed and ready to go at least two weeks in advance! The night before I was to leave I could not sleep. My husband Mike and I own a one-room schoolhouse and we are always looking to improve our school's appearance and make things as period appropriate as possible.While we attended the 12th Annual CSAA Conference from June 17th through June 20th of 2012 I came away with much information.we learned the true purpose of the “stage” in the front of some one room school classrooms and why some had them and some did not. We also learned how to identify an older lunch box and that a lunch box is also called a berry bucket. We found out that a church bell, a school bell, and a house bell all had different sounds.But the subject I personally found most interesting was the kid hack! Of course I am a horse person, so anything involving horses I enjoy like nothing else. What was cool about that is that the area farmers would sometimes bid to play bus duty.We have an old farm wagon and some horses we plan to use with our school and I was concerned because the older generations who visit tend to say, “There wasn't anything like that around here!” Now I can rest easy knowing that there certainly COULD have been, because there were in other places in the USA.These conferences give you the opportunity to view other one-room schoolhouses, more then a person can see in their own little world like in our small town of Caldwell, KS! We visited six on the conference tour.Before this conference I was uncertain about how to register our schoolhouse project as a non-profit organization with the IRS until I learned from one presenter that it really should be a non-profit for its own good. In October 2009 when we started working to restore our school, I called the IRS office to send me information on applying for non-profit status, 501(c)3. I received a one-inch thick book of instructions with applications, and read that you have to have the help of an attorney. I called a few local attorneys and even those that I knew personally said they do not do non profits. I was feeling helpless that no one was willing to aid me with this huge task. I filed that packet and didn't look at it again until we got home from this 2012 conference. I decided to give it a shot with CSAA Director Richard Lewis's help through email.I am so thankful to everyone at the conference for giving me the confidence and the drive to give our schoolhouse project all I've got. Hopefully the 501(c)3 status can assure people that their donations are going to go where we say they will go.And, what I loved the most about the CSAA conference were the late nights lounging around reviewing all the helpful information and tips we learned, and sharing pictures and stories with our friends and newly found “family” of the CSAA. I no longer feel alone in this enormous project of preserving a piece of our educational history!Note: The Brunhoebers have acquired a second schoolhouse for their property. Watch for updates.Photos: (Top) Interior of the Belleview School, (Middle) Exterior Bellevue School, (Bottom) Valerie and Mike Brunhoeber at their real jobs!