The Last One-Room School In Roane County

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

The last one-room school in Roane County was the Dry Fork Elementary School located in the Dry Fork Community, in the Southern part of Roane County. The school closed at the end of the 1968-1969 school year. The school opened in 1878, and the first teacher was James Clarksen who only taught for one year. Forty-seven teachers taught at the school during its ninety-one-year history. The last twenty-seven years were taught by Mrs. Fleda Guffee. Besides teaching, Mrs. Guffee also drove the school bus during her last year at Dry Fork. In an article in The Knoxville News-Sentinel, 13 Apr 1967, it was stated

Discipline is seldom a problem, and a boy or girl spanked at school usually gets another at home, ‘I just stop the school bus, walk up to a house and tell a pupil’s folks what he’s done,’ Mrs. Guffey (sic) said, ‘Before nightfall a boy whipped at school may have had his second dose!’” In this same article, Mrs. Guffee also stated “The advantage of a one-room school, is that small children learn how to get along with each other, how to cooperate, to give and to take. And our secret of any success we have here, I believe, is in-home visits. I make many of them.

The last year the school was in operation it had 26 students. When the school closed, the students were transferred to Paint Rock Elementary and Midway High School. Mrs. Guffee transferred to Fairview Elementary School and taught for another year. When the school closed, the property reverted back to the family of Robert Lee Viar, the owner of the property. According to a 1977 newspaper article, the building was being used as the residence of Edward and Velma Viar.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, March 2013.