By Kevin Williams
This Amish school in rural Highland County, Ohio was letting out and I drove on past. I was kind of in a hurry to get back home to see my daughters . But then I thought better of my decision to drive past. After all, writing about and learning about Amish culture is my job. This would be the perfect time to stop by and talk to the teachers there, with the students having just left. They all headed home, mainly foot, Igloo coolers (almost every kid carried a huge Igloo cooler, I had never seen that before). So I turned around and headed back for the school. But as I turned my car around, another fear seeped in…a fear that I’d encounter a very young female teacher there by herself who might be uncomfortable in an empty school with some middle-aged guy she didn’t know. I was hoping there would be a male school teacher there. Many Amish schools have male teachers.
I maneuvered my car down the driveway, took a deep breath, and knocked on the door. Sure enough, two very young teachers answered. I’d guess them at anywhere from age 16 to 18. This is not uncommon in Amish schools. As a general rule I find that the more conservative the Amish community is, and this one is pretty conservative, the younger the teachers are. I’m not sure why that is, but that’s just been my anecdotal finding.
Anyway, once the teachers realized I was likely harmless they relaxed a little bit and we chatted about their school. Twenty seven students attend, grades K – 8. They heat the school with coal and, yes, they occasionally have “snow days.” Although when I asked them how they get the word out about school being closed they didn’t have a ready answer. They said sometimes a driver will go from place to place to tell the students, but if it’s really snowy that might not be the most reliable method.
Oh well, we had a nice visit on a gorgeous fall day. The teachers told me that their 27 students come from three tightly clustered Amish church districts in the area, a patch of rolling, rural countryside dotted with organic farmsteads.