Back to School Grant: Hillcrest High School, Courtney Dameron


A one room schoolhouse is something that today’s students have only heard stories about but have never experienced it. Hillcrest High School’s (HHS) Courtney Dameron wanted to change that for her students and decided to submit a Back to School grant in order to do so. With her grant, students were able to travel back in time and see what it was like for students and teachers during the 1860s.

“Students had the opportunity to sit in an authentic One Room Schoolhouse and hear how students learned in 1860- from a volunteer dressed for the time period. They got to sit in the small desks, write on slates, ring the school bell & recite the Pledge of Allegiance after they raised the flag. I saw them look at each other in amazement and shock when our volunteer told them they would not have been sitting as students in this school- but since most of them were 16- they would have been the teachers.  But, what REALLY caused a shift in paradigm was experiencing life on the farm.  They chopped wood, carried water, did laundry, ground cornmeal, and countless other activities that helped them understand the numerous responsibilities of students AND teachers during this time.  They even walked through the nearby Japanese Stroll Garden and back which modeled how far many children might have walked in order to get to school. They were grateful for modern living and questioned how students could study and teachers prepare for lessons with so many of jobs that had to be done. With the objective to “Examine the historical significance of education”, students were able to get first hand experiences of what catalysts caused change in the educational system in 1860.”

Her grant allowed students to experience a one room schoolhouse without any cost to them. “There were no barriers for students to experience this, because the Foundation had covered the ONLY cost- Transportation.” said Mrs. Dameron. “Experiences, like the one my Future Teachers had, is a free one.  Many field trips and wonderful places for students to visit to enhance their learning are at no cost to the community.  However, transportation to these places are the main cost and is hundreds of dollars to get an SPS school bus.  Removing this barrier for teachers and students makes it an attainable goal to get our students out of the classroom to experience learning first hand. Thank you Foundation for SPS and donors of the Foundation for your support!.”