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
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 to 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.