Derby School History

Evangelical Church in the school on Georgie

circa late 1880s

Artist rendering of the school on Georgie after it was turned into the Evangelical Church

School district #6, El Paso, was established in 1872, just a year after the town was formed. Like most communities of that time, El Paso’s school quickly became the center of activity for the townspeople. In addition to providing education for the children, most schools were used as the gathering spot for community functions and many school buildings also housed congregations for Sunday services until permanent church structures could be afforded.

School sessions were usually short…six months or less. Most families lived on farms and the older children were needed to help with fall harvest, so school didn’t start until well into the fall. Their help was also needed with field work and planting in the spring, so the school term ended when the time came for that activity. Many of the boys only attended school in the coldest winter months when they were not working in the fields, and quitting school before completing the 8th grade was not uncommon. Often the boys would achieve only a 3rd or 4th grade equivalent education due to their fragmented attendance, even though they may have attended classes well into their teenage years. Most of the small schools offered education only through the 8th grade level, with all elementary grades being taught by only one or maybe two teachers. El Paso was no exception to that practice.

El Paso’s first school building was situated at the corner of Georgie and Washington streets, on the southeast edge of the town. It served the community’s needs until the population of school-aged children exceeded the building’s capacity in 1886. At that point the property was sold to the Evangelical church and a new school building was erected on top of a prominent knoll almost a quarter of a mile east of town. The new facility was an attractive 2-story wood-frame structure and numerous trees planted on the school grounds provided a park-like atmosphere. 

This information provided by the Derby Historical Museum. Read more about Derby history on their blog here:

Derby School History