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Retired school teacher reunites with former students

By Staff | Oct 16, 2012

Former Ferrell Elementary school teacher Carol Ritter Mordan is surrounded by Hughesville High School juniors and seniors she taught as third graders at Picture Rocks. They include (seated l-r): Dyln Simcox, Casey Hill, (standing): Dakota Gee, Zane Smith, Mordan, Logan Rucker and Billy Conway. Mordan served as a docent sharing the subject of one-room schools when four sections of Hughesville High School’s local History classes toured the East Lycoming Historical Society museum on Sept 25.

HUGHESVILLE – Carol Ritter Mordan recently retired after 37 years as a third grade teacher at Ferrell Elementary School in Picture Rocks. She admits to suffering the pangs of classroom withdrawal and in September found a one-day cure for the disease.

The prescription was discovered after she agreed to volunteer as one of three docents at the East Lycoming Historical Society museum in September.

It was during the annual visit by more than 100 members of Hughesville High School’s Local History class the teacher was reunited with eleven former students currently enrolled in the elective subject.

Following eight years of separation, the surprised students greeted Mordan with hugs. They included Billy Conway, Kesha Frantz, Dakota Gee, Casey Hill, Jackson McConnell, Hunter Poorman, Logan Rucker, Josh Sanders, Dyln Simcox and Cody Stryker.

‘One-Room Schools’ was Mordan’s topic and the scene was appropriately set with desks having ink wells, Lore’s School storage cabinet, reading primers, and more. She described the minimal amenities offered in classrooms of yesteryear.

The chosen topic seemed even more fitting after learning that in 1983, Mordan was one of five elementary teachers in the East Lycoming District tapped to initiate local history into the curriculum.

“In addition to me, those teachers were Mrs. Penny Barto, Mrs. Rose Hafer and Miss Barbara Hart. There weren’t textbooks available so visual aids, taped stories, artwork, skits and plays were used. The project involved not only students, but grew to include multiple generations of their families,” she said.

According to Mordan, those responsible for the introduction of the subject included then superintendent Tom Paternostro, elementary principal Steven Moyer, and a committee of faculty, administrators and historical society members.

At the time, it was voiced such a class would give children a sense of pride in themselves, their neighborhoods, community, economics and lifestyle.

In 1984, Mordan began leading tutorials to the one-room Newman School along Route 220 on the outskirts of Hughesville. The first visit included one of Mordan’s former teachers, Mrs. Ethel Watts of Unityville, age 81 at the time.

“Due to either teacher’s switching grade levels or retiring, after 28 years, mine remained the only class taking annual tours to Newman and I hope they continue,” Mordan said. The Franklin Township native had personal experiences having attended Starr School.

In the fall of 1989, a local History class was offered at Hughesville High School. The one semester elective is open to juniors and seniors. Amy Shaner Rogers was the first teacher followed by current instructor Brian Machmer. Several members of the community with expertise on various local points of interest are guest speakers to the class. Students experience walking tours around town and are bussed to Williamsport where several historical sites are viewed including the new wall of mural art across from the Community Arts Center in downtown Williamsport.