More than anything, Ida Bidson wants to become a teacher. To do that, she needs to finish eighth grade so she can go on to high school. But when the one-room school in Ida’s remote Colorado town closes unexpectedly, that dream seems unattainable. Her only hope is to keep the school open without anyone finding out. Yet even a secret school needs a teacher. Ida can’t be it … or can she?
Behind the story
The way The Secret School begins, with fourteen-year-old Ida driving a Model T Ford, but being so short her brother needed to be on the floor working the clutch and brakes, is a true tale, told to me by a bookstore owner who had gone to a one-room school house. Though very young she had a special driver’s license which allowed her to drive—but only back and forth to her one-room school house.
I think it was hearing that story that led me to write The Secret School. read more
As Originally Published …
The Secret School was originally written and serialized in newspapers for Breakfast Serials.
It can still be read in its original format (with illustrations by Brian Floca) via the internet at Instant Serials. There’s a Spanish translation available. A slightly expanded version was published and is still in print.
Lesson Plan, “Spotlight on Avi and The Secret School,” Linda Ward Beech for Scholastic
“Rural School Buildings in Colorado,” by county, with photos, from History Colorado. “In 1861, a comprehensive school law was among the acts passed by Colorado’s first Territorial Legislative Assembly. Historians have noted that a community’s construction of a school building often reflected not only a belief in the importance of universal education but a desire to lend an aura of permanence to the community itself. ”
“Portraits of the Past: Revisiting the Days of One-Room Schoolhouses,” Community History Writers, The Fort Morgan Times, 5 September 2019
“The One-Room Schoolhouse,” Jodi Wilgoren, The New York Times, 6 August 2000. “Bloomfield, which opened in 1908, is one of nearly 400 remaining public one-room schoolhouses in the nation, at once a nostalgic remnant of the past and a modern outlet for educational experimentation. Even as the number of tiny rural schools has plunged in recent years, the fundamental aspects of teaching inside them—from multi-age classrooms and peer tutoring to interdisciplinary projects and keeping students with the same teacher for more than one year—are being copied in large school systems across the country.”
Video: “Minnesota’s Last One-Room Schoolhouse,” Kaomi Goetz, Almanac, TPT, 27 March 2020
And now that you’ve read to the end, a treat: there’s a sequel on its way for this book.