School teachers early in the 1900s were not required to have much training. In fact, the day after a person finished his or her high school years he or she could apply for a job to teach. Before being hired they had to pass a test given by the County Superintendent. And they had to be 18 years of age.
One of those early teachers was a female from Fairview, Edith Heidler, who later married Adolph Osterberg. Edith grew up in Fairview, finished high school in 1916, passed the test and after her 18th birthday that June she was eligible to teach.
Her first assignment in the county was near Edinboro at a one-room school. From Fairview it took her two hours by trolley every morning to get from one place to the other.
Then, when she arrived she had to sweep out the one-room school, build and start a fire in the wood stove. All the material she needed to accomplish these tasks were supplied by the local school board. She was responsible for her building and needed to inspect it regularly for repairs, even do minor maintenance when she could. She was to keep all records in good order, teach 20 days a month to all the classes presented before her. (In one-room schools it was possible that not every class would be represented by a child.) Oh, yes, and she could not attend any parties the night before a school day. All this for $40 per month.
Initially she found that she was barely older than some of the older children. And there were semesters when she had as many as 35 students in her classroom.
But she kept at it, teaching at other county schools including Manchester School on the northeast corner of Route 20 and Manchester Road (see the featured photo). She also taught in Fairview Borough where she was only required to teach the first three grades.
Sometimes a teacher, rather than travel great distances every morning and evening, would room with a local family… or even be passed around and room with several of the local families whose children were attending his/her school. Often those early teachers were men. Being a teacher was a hardship in those early days.
The local school board expected the teacher to exclude “any other business whatever” during the term of their contract. They also expected the teacher to “labor earnestly and diligently, to the best of (her/his) ability, for the improvement and welfare of the said school.”
It is hard to imagine that anyone who taught school in those early years was not outstanding. In this case, we know Edith was, for she left a long, long legacy in Fairview, which will be recognized soon in another post.