The Impact of One Teacher

One Room School House Teacher Mrs. Buchanan

One Room School House Teacher Mrs. Buchanan

Meet Mrs. Buchanan. She was my grandmother’s school teacher during the 1930’s & ’40’s, in a tiny one-room school-house on Best Road in Morgantown, PA.

The one-room schoolhouse on Best Road, where Mrs. Buchanan taught my grandmother

The one-room schoolhouse on Best Road, where Mrs. Buchanan taught my grandmother

If you’ve followed the series of blog posts I’m sharing about my Amish family, you’ve seen much mention of my amazing grandmother Lydia Esh. I’ve never met another person who influenced my life in such a powerful way when it comes to bringing joy and teamwork to everyday life. Who were the people who helped shape my grandmother’s character and gifts? Of course there were her parents, Emanuel and Fannie Stoltzfus, (known to me as “Daudy & Mummy Stoltzfus”). But there was also someone else: her teacher Mrs. Buchanan. She was a woman of great influence during my Grandma’s childhood, and Grandma often spoke of her.

Students of Mrs. Buchanan's - My grandmother is in the back row

Students of Mrs. Buchanan’s – My grandmother is in the back row

Grandma, her sister Sarah, her brother Sam & siblings were the only Old-Order Amish children who attended Mrs. Buchanan’s classroom during those years. Most of the other students were from Conestoga Mennonite Church.

My grandma Lydia and her brother, who I call "Uncle Sam"

My grandma Lydia and her brother, who I call “Uncle Sam” (At the school on Best Road)

Amish children attend a one room schoolhouse from 1st through 8th grade. I would argue that because of her incredible teacher, my grandma received more education in her 8 years of schooling than most people procure in 12 years of a typical school experience.


Mrs. Buchanan instilled in my grandmother a love of learning and adventure. She sparked in her a deep appreciation of poetry, history, literature and song, and taught her the value of teamwork. My grandmother gave these priceless gift to my mother. My mother joyfully passed them on to me, and now I have the delight of sharing these same gifts with my daughter.

Grandma Lydia's Schoolwork

Grandma Lydia’s Schoolwork

Grandma Lydia's Schoolwork

There’s a fun little bunny trail of this story: Grandma’s middle initial was “S” for Stoltzfus. (Many Amish children had the maiden name of their mother as their middle name.) Apparently Grandma wanted a different middle name, so she signed some of her elementary school work with “Lydia Susie Stoltzfus”.


The most significant memory my mother has of Mrs. Buchanan’s effect on my Grandma’s day-to-day parenting is the memory of Grandma reciting poems she learned in school (like the Owl & the Pussycat) while combing and braiding her hair when she was a little Amish girl.

My mother's first grade school picture

My mother’s first grade school picture

Amazingly, Mrs. Buchanan served as substitute teacher for my mother when she attended “California School”, another one-room schoolhouse which still stands on California road in Morgantown, PA. My mother especially loved the story-books Mrs. Buchanan read to her students.

Students at California School, the one room schoolhouse on California Road in Morgantown, PA

Students at California School, the one room schoolhouse on California Road in Morgantown, PA

From time to time (especially when we read and recite poetry together) I think of the stories my grandma and mother shared of Mrs. Buchanan. I don’t want the story to die, and so I share it with my daughter. More importantly, I strive to cultivate a deep love and passion for learning in her – a gift now passed down to a fourth generation of students thanks to one incredible teacher many years ago. I believe Mrs. Buchanan’s influence makes me a better mother and home school teacher today.

My mother and my daughter

My beautiful mother and daughter

What a powerful picture of the impact one teacher can have on future generations! The lesson to me is this: If a one-room school-house teacher in a tiny town in Lancaster County, PA can make such an imprint, then certainly we all have the power to sow seeds of values and joy into the children in our lives – which will grow, spread like vines, and blossom on the pages of future history.

~ Justina Dee

This is number 18 in my “31 Lessons I Learned From My Amish Family” blogging series. Click here to read more! 





Why We Choose to Homeschool Our Children


Disclaimer: First (with a big smile on my face), let me say that I am a Christian; so this post was written though a “Biblical” lens and is therefore religious in nature.  Second please hear me when I say; I do not believe people who send their children to school are bad parents! I DO however suggest that every parent is obligated to do everything in their ability to provide their child with the best education possible. Homeschooling is not for everyone. My desire is simply to share our fundamental reasons for educating our child (and our future children) at home.

Why do we homeschool? Simply put: My husband and I believe it is our God-given responsibility to equip our children for the life He has designed for them. We want to be the adults who mold their worldview. We are convinced it is the optimal way to identify and nurture our children’s God-given gifts. And we believe that (for our family) it is the best choice for academic excellence.

In future posts, I’ll be addressing the most common questions I’ve heard for most of my life, as a homeschool student & graduate, and now homeschooling parent. Critical or skeptical parties typically ask the following questions; so please allow me first highlight the massive, wrinkly elephant in the room:

1) How will  your homeschooled child develop the social skills they need for life?

2) What about sports?

3) How can you possibly ask your child to miss out on experiences like homecoming and prom?

4) How can they get into college, and how will they be able to handle their classes?

5) I once knew a homeschooling family who was very weird. How will you make sure your child isn’t awkward and strange?

I’ll address all these questions at another time. There are tremendous answers for all of them! But in the meantime: After reading what God’s word tells us about parenting, we feel convicted to do whatever is possible within our means as parents, to bring up our children under the authority and lens of the Gospel. In that light, I find it interesting that Christian parents aren’t FIRST asking THESE questions about their child’s education, as they’re the questions around which my husband and I are shaping the education of our children.

1) How can we best equip our children to know, love and worship Jesus, serve the body of Christ and the world, and answer the specific call God has placed on their life?

2) How can we provide our children with the foundation of a Biblical worldview and an eternal, kingdom mindset?

3) How can we best develop our children’s character and cultivate their God-given gifts and talents?

4) Taking into consideration the lifestyle, responsibilities and personality of our unique family, how can we give our children the best possible education, while looking at each child’s learning style, passions, gifts, strengths and weaknesses?

5) And last; in light of all these questions, where is the best place to educate our children: Public, Private or Homeschool?

Equipping for life. Laying the foundation of a Biblical Worldview. Cultivating God-given gifts and talents. Academic excellence. A beautiful relationship with our children. Homeschooling is the unrivaled choice for our family to achieve all these treasures, and so many more.

I welcome your comments, thoughts and questions. Click here to open my Homeschool Resource page. I’ll be adding more content on a regular basis!