One-room schoolteacher profile: Anna Myers Maas
The Sullivan County Historical Society has recently acquired the hand-held school bell used by Anna Myers Maas (1897-1988), the one-room schoolteacher at the Cochecton Center district school. Anna taught all eight grades at Cochecton Center from 1920 to 1952. Even earlier, she taught at the Nearing District School near Lake Huntington and the Birch Ridge School near Kenoza Lake.
Along with the school bell, the Historical Society now holds an individual slate board used by Cochecton Center students. The slate board comes via Sharon Umnik Reitmeyer who rescued it from the collection of the now closed Cochecton Center Community Center. The school bell and slate were donated by Leslie Loeffel, Anna’s great-niece and goddaughter.
These items are available to see at the Historical Society along with a history of Anna’s teaching career written by Leslie Loeffel. The following excerpt from that teaching history describes the some of the challenges of Anna’s first year of teaching.
After preparing for one year at the Liberty High School teachers’ training class, Anna Myers graduated in 1916. She accepted her first teaching position with the Nearing District, located on the shortcut road between Cochecton Center and Fosterdale, near Lake Huntington.
The start of Anna’s teaching career was not routine. An epidemic of infantile paralysis (today called polio) had broken out in Sullivan County, and the start of the 1916-17 school year was postponed. The District Superintendents wrote a letter to teachers asking for their cooperation in waiving their contracts’ start date and forgoing compensation for the days school was closed. Schools did not open for three weeks, and at least one teacher sued, claiming that he should be paid for those weeks. It must have been a stressful time for nineteen-year-old Anna as she prepared for her first teaching assignment, worried about her own health, and wondered whether she would be paid for her first few contracted weeks.
an epidemic of infantile paralysis has become general throughout Sullivan County, menacing the health of both children and adults, stringent rules and regulations must be adopted and enforced to safeguard the public health…”
Soon after school finally opened on October 1, Anna would have attended her first teachers’ conference. At the conference, “Miss Wilson,” a teacher at Eldred, fell ill and left. She was later diagnosed with diphtheria. As a result, teachers had to undergo throat cultures to make sure they were not contagious “germ carriers” who might endanger their students. After this rocky start, with not one but two disease scares, Anna could finally begin teaching in earnest.
To learn more about Anna Myers Maas’ years of teaching and life at one-room schoolhouses, including reminiscences of Anna’s students, stop by the Sullivan County Historical Society in Hurleyville, or send us an email!