KEARNEY – Rural school teachers Doris Mae (Pedersen) Maurer and Kari (Ruenholl) Schroeder will have their names added to the One Room, One Teacher Wall of Honor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
They will be recognized at a ceremony 3:30 p.m. Friday at UNK’s College of Education building.
The program started in 2012 and honors teachers who taught in one-room schools and students who attended. More than $240,000 has been raised to help support student scholarships. There are 77 one-room teachers and students honored through this program.
“The One Room, One Teacher program honors the legacy of rural schoolteachers in Nebraska,” said Grace Mims, interim dean of UNK’s College of Education. “Many Nebraska residents attended one-room schools and are now our teachers, business owners, health care providers and community leaders. The rural school spirit lives on through the many scholarships awarded from this program.”
The event will also include recognition of nine 2019-20 scholarship winners funded by the program. They include:
Alda – Isabel De Leon Francisco
Cambridge – Mallory Patterson
Columbus – Jennifer Belsan
Grand Island – Ruth Palma
Kearney – Elizabeth Hawney
Kearney – Tyson Colling
Lexington – Odwuar Quinonez Rodriguez
Schuyler – Alejandra Gutierrez
Schuyler – Jennifer Novak
2019 One Room, One Teacher Honorees
Doris Mae (Pedersen) Maurer
Doris attended Churchill School, a one-room Nuckolls County school, through eighth grade. She then went to Hardy High School, where she received a one-year teaching certificate after taking two years of Normal Training. Doris graduated from Hardy High School in 1946 and started teaching at District #44 Beach School when she was 17 for a salary of $125 a month. Her dad thought she had asked for too much!
Doris taught all grades and subjects, including art, music and physical education. The school had no plumbing, so they used outhouses. The students either walked to school or rode a horse. Both Beach and Churchill schools had a small barn to accommodate the horses. Doris carried the drinking water from home, and the students all used the same dipper to drink from the water bucket. She cleaned the schoolhouse at the end of the day and banked the furnace so there would be coals to start a fire the next morning. Doris always participated in recess activities, playing softball, “handy over,” kick the can, tag and other games. Doris caught chickenpox that first year at Beach School, and they closed the school until she was well.
During the second year, Doris and her brother, Kenny, bought a Jeep. She would drop Kenny off at the Hardy Post Office and then head to school. One snowy day, the storm turned into a blizzard, and she got stuck. She knew there was a house a half mile up the road and decided to try to get there. She fell numerous times and, at one point, she thought about how nice it would be to just lie down in the snow and go to sleep. But she kept going, finally reached the farmhouse where the family took her in and thawed her out.
After two years at District #44 Beach School, Doris taught at District #59 Churchill School. She then taught at District #2 Binning School and District #1 Oak School, which were also in Nuckolls County.
Doris went to Kearney Normal School every summer and then taught at Pleasanton with a two-year certificate. After 11 years of summer school, Doris graduated in 1958 from Kearney State Teachers College with a bachelor of arts degree. She finished her full-time teaching career in Plattsmoutha. Doris enjoyed her students and loved teaching, so when she and her husband, Lyle, moved back to Kearney, she substituted for many years in the Kearney Public Schools and at Educational Service Unit 10.
At 90, Doris is still very active and interested in education. She has been an active member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary organization for women educators, for 60 years.
Kari (Ruenholl) Schroeder
In spring 2005, Kari (Ruenholl) Schroeder accepted her first teaching job in a one-room schoolhouse just outside of Ashland.
“It was the first interview I had right out of college,” she said. “I interviewed in front of the school board, county superintendent and many parents. I was nervous to teach multiple grades and also serve in multiple facets.”
Little did she know then how much teaching at Clear Creek, known as District #3, would prepare her for her career in education.
“I had an amazing experience and have taken so much of what I learned and use it daily to help all my students achieve their maximum potential,” Schroeder said.
She had 14 students in kindergarten through fourth grade and was in charge of teaching all core classes along with music, PE, art and computers.
“So not only was I stepping in and teaching all these grades and different subjects, I also found out that I had to be the director of the annual Christmas play. The pressure was on.”
The play ended up being a success and is one of her favorite memories at Clear Creek. It makes her smile to think about the time and effort that went into it and watching it come to fruition.
Kari said she was lucky to have two amazing paraprofessionals. “I couldn’t have done it without them,” she said. “They made every day fun and exciting, and I constantly bounced ideas off of them.”
One para said, “Kari always made me feel like a true equal and that my opinion was valued and appreciated. She’s a terrific teacher, and her patience seems to never end. She somehow always knows how to explain things to all students to make them understand.”
Some of Kari’s students at District #3 shared:
“Miss Ruenholl is the best teacher in the galaxy!”
Another said: “She gives everyone a chance and earns everyone’s respect,” and “I love having her as my teacher; she is my favorite teacher ever!”
District #3 was like one big family. They did almost everything together, including eating lunch. They went on many field trips to such places as the state capitol, a literary fair, the zoo and monthly visits to the public library. Kari loved the freedom of teaching in a one-room schoolhouse.
“Teachable moments popped up everywhere, and I could capitalize on that moment every single time.”
Kari currently teaches fifth grade in Syracuse.