Published On: Thu, Jan 23rd, 2014

Local centurion is happy to receive visit from past student

COLERIDGE — Teach a kid to read and write and that kid will remember a good teacher the rest of his life.

Virgil Flaugh, 84, Hartington, stopped in to visit with a teacher he had when he was a young boy attending country school located southwest of Hartington.

Kathryn Janssen, Coleridge, had been a teacher at Harmony School, District 98 in the mid 1930s when Flaugh was a young student.

Flaugh’s visit Saturday afternoon brought back a lot of happy memories for Janssen, who is 101 and is now a resident of Park View Haven Nursing Home in Coleridge.

Janssen was his teacher at Harmony for two or three years.

“She was the best teacher I ever had. I really appreciate her,” Flaugh said.

Flaugh still lives a couple of miles from where Harmony School was located.

The old Harmony country school building is no longer at the location.

Janssen graduated from Hartington High School in 1931. She earned her a Lifetime Teaching Certificate at Wayne State College in 1933 and taught for 10 years in two one-room country schools in Cedar County — Harmony and Midway.

While teaching at Harmony school, Janssen boarded with Flaugh’s grandparents who lived in the school district.

Janssen did not have a car and would walk several miles to and from school each day. On the weekends she would catch a ride back to her home in Hartington with another teacher in a nearby district.

While she was teaching in the country schools, Janssen had to be at school by eight o’clock each morning and was not allowed to leave the school until 5:00, even though the students were dismissed at 4 p.m.

During the winter months, her first job in the morning was to start a fire and get the building warm before the students arrived.

Water had to be carried into the school. Part of the water would be used for washing hands and the rest would be used for drinking water.

Janssen had the responsibility of teaching seven to eight subjects to all eight grades in the same room.

During the time Janssen was teaching, students who finished the eighth grade had to pass an exam in order to enter high school.

Janssen still remembers staying after school to help the eighth grade students prepare for the exam.

“I would keep them after school and drill them,” Janssen said. “One year two of my students had the highest scores in the county.”