Education has always been important to the residents of Alabama and old photos illustrate the early education efforts in Cleburne County.
Prior to the 1900s, there were numerous small, one-room schools scattered across the county.
In those days, some schools and churches were combined in the same building. Most students used a Noah Webster "Blue Back" speller and a small slate to write on. Students walked to school and the distance could be several miles each way. Seats were hewn halves of logs cut to the right length and legs made of small poles were driven into augured holes.
Early schools in Cleburne County stressed the "Three Rs" of "reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic." Many had only one teacher. Since children were expected to help on family farms, the school sessions might only run for a few months in the winter and a few months in the summer.
District schools flourished in Cleburne County between 1907 and 1917. In 1917, the number of district schools peaked at 65, and the Cleburne County Board of Education maintained those schools until 1921, when the ability to transport children from one district to another became feasible. With the passing of each year, the number of schools gradually decreased as more and more were consolidated.
Former school teachers Don Chandler and Frances Wright noted in "The Heritage of Cleburne County, Alabama" "The old district schools served a great need in that they caused the citizens of the different settlements to become school-conscious. The county board, with the help of the state, would match any money raised by the citizens of the district. The citizens felt responsible for raising their share of the money, and this attitude caused them to have more interest in their school."
A typical school of the early 1900s consisted of one room, one teacher, and an average of 35 students who met there to seven months of the year. As consolidation continued and school buses could run routes, the number of schools in the county declined to the present two high schools, four elementary schools and one middle school.