With worn wooden benches, slate chalkboard, and wood burning stove as a fitting backdrop, (D-25) welcomed two grants for the "Little Red Schoolhouse" field trip program.
The grants – one delivered by AT&T's external affairs director Harry Carey for $2,000 and the second, a $500 donation from Bill Malitsky of Halloran & Sage – came about in response to what NHS board president David Westmoreland described as, "the burdens and challenges to PTOs and school budgets that results in fewer resources for field trips."
The spring field trip to "The Little Red Schoolhouse" at is something of a rite of passage for third graders.
Smantha Kulish, educational coordinator for NHS, explained that the two-hour visit dovetails nicely with the public school third grade curriculum, which emphasizes Norwalk history.
"I take them into the school to recreate the 1826 school experience," said Kulish, whose long dress and bonnet approximates that of a school marm. "Though it's more likely that in 1826 the students would have been taught by a man," she added.
Back in 1971 the schoolhouse itself was moved to Mill Hill Historic Park on East Wall Street from its original location on Olmstead Place to make way for I-95. Since being spared from demolition, the building has hosted decades of educational field trips.
During visits to the schoolhouse students learn that the "water fountain" of the day was a half barrel of well-water doled out in a communal metal ladle. "When the kids gasp in astonishment, I explain that in 1826, little was known about germs or how they spread disease," said Kulish.
Third graders also learn about "punishments" meted out for their naughty 8 or 9-year old counterparts of 1826, including donning of the dunce cap, or removal from the relative comfort of the wooden bench to the "uniped," or one-legged stool.
The "Little Red Schoolhouse" is open to the public on weekends from May until September, from 12:00-4:00PM. Tours are also available by arrangement throughout the year. Contact Diane Jellerette at (203) 846-0525 or email her at email@example.com More information is available on the Historical Society's website.