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Training Schools

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.

Photograph 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.


Independence Elementary and High School

Campus Elementary today known as the ITC building.

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

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.

Oak 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.


No 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.


Eola Rural Center

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 1927.


Mountain 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 .


Rickreall Rural Center

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.


The 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.


Falls 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 Center

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.

Training Schools Timeline

Information Compiled by Kris Brunner, 2005.

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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005 2:23 PM