When I came to Shaw Island, almost 30 years ago, our island school was one room with one teacher, K thru 8 grades. One of my first outings on the island was to the 8th grade graduation. I was seated next to one of the graduating boys and was impressed with his ability to talk to a strange adult with such ease. I was to find he was not unique for island kids.
The little red school on Shaw has been in continuous use since it was built in 1890 and is the longest- running school in the state. The building is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The current building was the second school house on the Island. The first, a small log cabin, was only open for a short period of time before it was replaced by the current building. That old building sits in deep woods slowly rotting away- soon to be part of the earth.
Today our school community consists of two classrooms - one for our kindergarteners through fourth graders, and one with our fifth through eighth graders. Over the years the classes have ranged from two to 35 students. At present there are 14 students. Last year there were 22.
As far as I am concerned the kids get one of the best educations in the country, mainly due to the many islanders willing to pitch in and offer outside activities. Unlike many areas of our country the arts have not been cut, so they have weekly music, poetry, writing and art. Scientists visit and give courses in everything from geology to chemistry to marine biology. Due to the small number there are not competitive sports but I have known kids who could drive a boat before they could drive a car. And they always top the charts for national contests. For the most part they use their imagination in their school work and play... so lacking in education today! And it also helps that the parents here care deeply that their children are educated in more than the 3Rs.