Beginning in 1882, and continuing today,
Western Oregon University has held the
distinction as Oregon’s premier
school for teacher education. While this
has not changed for one hundred and fifty
years, the way in which potential teachers
are educated has. Today, students who
are admitted into the education program
at WOU spend a large percentage of their
time observing and student teaching in
local area schools.
taken between 1896 and 1897 of the
original training school located
on the WOU campus. Campbell Hall,
with the original bell tower, is
located in the background.
Today, these schools are
run by the individual school districts
and student teachers are overseen by WOU
faculty. However, in the past this was
not the case.
Beginning in 1898, and continuing
until 1986, Western Oregon University
itself ran a number of schools .These“training
schools” were ran with essentially
three goals in mind, first to give the
children residing in the area an education,
second to give the students of the college
an opportunity to sharpen their teaching
skills before heading out and starting
their teaching careers, and lastly to
help solve the shortage of teachers available
in rural areas of Oregon.
These training schools
are basically broken down into two categories.
One group consists of the schools that
are near the WOU campus. These schools
would include Monmouth Training School/Campus
Elementary and the Independence Training
School. The others, which were most often
referred to as “Rural Centers”
would consist of all the schools that
are located outside the Monmouth/Independence
area. These would include, Elkins
Rural Center, Oak
Point Rural Center, Greenwood
Rural Center, Eola
Rural Center, Mountain
View Rural Center, Rickreall
Rural Center, the
Children’s Farm Home, Valsetz
Rural Center, Falls
City Rural Center, and Fair
Play Rural Center.
Elementary and High School
Elementary today known as the
Monmouth High School and Elementary
(built in 1911 on the northeast corner
of Knox and Powell) was used by Western
Oregon University as a training school
until 1915. At this time, the building
presently known as the ITC was erected.
The elementary students were moved to
the new building known at the time as
the Campus Elementary, while the high
schools students remained at the older
building. In 1950, Monmouth and Independence
school districts merged and the high school
students were then relocated to Central
High School with the grade school students
remaining at the Campus Elementary. Independence,
which agreed to become a training school
in 1917, was dropped in 1957.
Elkins Rural Center was
built in close proximity to a rail line
that ran through Airlie and Monmouth.
This rural center, which was near the
town of Airlie, was added to Western Oregon
University in 1912 and was dropped sometime
around 1929-1930 when the Southern Pacific
Rail Road abandoned the line. It, like
many of the rural centers, consisted of
a two room school that was run by five
student teachers and one “critic
teacher” in charge of overseeing
the student teachers.
Point Rural Center
Oak Point Rural Center was
located north of Independence near the
intersection of Greenwood road and the
Independence highway. This one room school
house was incorporated as a rural center
in 1917 and dropped in 1934.
picture of Greenwood Rural Center
available at this time.
Near Oak point on Greenwood road was
the Greenwood Rural Center. This building,
like the one at Oak Point, was a single
room school house. Greenwood was made
a rural center in 1927 and dropped in1936.
Located northeast of Oak
Point and Greenwood Rural Centers was
the Eola Rural Center. This one room school
house was located in the hills just above
the Willamette River. The Eola Rural Center
was incorporated in 1921 and dropped in
View Rural Center
Mountain View Rural Center was located
five miles north of Corvallis. This multi-
room school house was added in 1918 and
dropped in 1927 .
The Rickreall Rural Center was located
in Rickreall, Oregon. Presently, it is
one of two (itself and the ITC building
on the WOU campus) rural centers that
are still standing and this building is
currently used by the Rickreall Grange.
At the time of construction it was considered
to be a model school building with running
water and electricity in every classroom.
The Rickreall Rural Center was added as
a rural center in 1923 and dropped sometime
between 1936 and 1940.
Children's Farm Home
The Children’s Farm Home was located
just north of Corvallis, Oregon. From
the available information, one could assume
that this was an orphanage for local children,
but there is no definitive answer. Like
all of the other rural centers, the classrooms
were staffed by the students from the
Oregon Normal School (currently WOU).
In addition to their studies, the children
living at the institution were also required
to work on the farm as a way to fund the
home. The Children’s Farm Home was
added around 1924 and was dropped in 1931.
Dorms used by Oregon Normal School
students at the Valstetz Rural Center
The Valsetz Rural Center was located
in the now extinct town of Valsetz, Oregon.
This school, sat fifteen miles west of
Falls City, Oregon in the mountains of
the coast range. The Valsetz Rural Center
was included in 1927 and dropped 1932.
City Rural Center
Falls City Rural Center was added as
a rural center in 1925 and later dropped
three years later in 1928.
Fair Play Rural
Fair Play Rural Center was added between
1925 and 1926 and was later dropped in
1930. Due top a lack of information, little
is known about this rural center and currently
the location of the school is unknown.
In the end, these training schools and
rural centers helped shape the way in
which students at WOU receive their education.
They established early on that the best
way for an aspiring teacher to acquire
the skills necessary to manage a classroom,
is to gain first hand experience. While
most of these buildings are gone, they
have left a legacy that will influence
the education of students at WOU for many
years to come.
Information Compiled by Kris Brunner,