It’s back to school time! These days public schools have consolidated, with only 2 high schools, 2 middle schools, 2 elementary schools, and 1 primary school in Mitchell County. A century ago, however, each community had a small school with most grades attending together. In 1913 the NC General Assembly enacted the Compulsory Attendance Act, which required all children between the ages of 8 and 12 to attend school continuously for four months a year.
A single teacher, often, had to provide instruction for all the pupils, on numerous levels, likely with limited resources. Only limited training was mandated for teachers. For example, Mitchell Collegiate Institute, in Bakersville, provided one year of training which licensed teachers for primary grades; another year was required to teach the upper grades.
This photo, taken just before 1920, shows students from a small school in the Brummetts Creek community of northern Mitchell County. More than 30 children attended the school, obviously of all different ages. The teacher, depicted on the left, was Malloy “Loy” Griffith; he was born in 1899, so he would have been only about 20 years old.
Malloy Griffith was the son of Joseph H. and America Byrd Griffith. He married Nannie Garland, daughter of Monroe and Alice Byrd Garland. This photo is from the collection of Frank Griffith, first cousin of Malloy Griffith.