|Photo from Melissa Murphy Oliver|
Sarah, according to Phyllis Walker Pasterczyk, a granddaughter, attended Normal School in the community of Somerset, Pennsylvania (which is directly north of where Sarah lived). A “normal school” was a school to train teachers. The length of the “normal school” curriculum was usually one to two years.
I have tried, without success, to find the Normal School in Somerset. I did find one for in Stoystown, Pennsylvania (in Quemahoning Township), but that probably would have been too far to travel. However, there was a Somerset Collegiate Institute in Somerset. I have not able to find out any information about this educational institution and its curriculum; but perhaps, this is where Sarah went for her training.
It is known Sarah taught for several years before
she got married at the age of 19. So,
doing the math, she was quite young when she was a teacher. The 1940 U.S.
Federal Census shows that she had an 8th grade education. Assuming
she went to Normal School right after the 8th grade, she would
have only been about 16 years old when she began her teaching career.
|Townships in Somerset County|
Phyllis, relying on information from one of Sarah’s daughters – Regina Murphy Kirchner (1919-2017), reveals that Sarah had to walk to and from school each day. Most teachers at that time lived with a local family who lived near the school. It is not known if she did this or not. However, I suspect she might have as to walk to and from the school from her parents’ home might have been too much of a hike.
|Typical Somerset County one-room school|
After her children were grown and had children of their own, Sarah would visit the various families. Phyllis has a favorite memory of her grandmother, stating: “When I was in grade school and grandma would come stay with us, she’d sit down with me when I got home from school and help me with my homework. She made the homework much more interesting. Once homework was done and dinner was over, we’d play cards: 500, rummy, and other card games. She loved to play cards.”