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The Baldwin School: Yesterday and Today

The Baldwin School

A Typical Day at Baldwin

Rosetta Baldwin believed in teaching math, science, and other subjects through experience-learning and hands-on activities in the classroom. Throughout the day, while students learned reading, arithmetic, social studies, science, and music from Rosetta Baldwin, they also learned Biblical principles. And although teaching styles changed over the years, her students recall that Rosetta and her teaching methods did not.

Ms. Baldwin’s Daily Class Itinerary, 1963. Courtesy Eleanor Wonce
Baldwin’s Daily Class Itinerary, 1963

“School started whatever time we got there.... Sometimes she kept them all night long. We [Pam and her sister Zelda] got to school around 8:00 a.m. because we always had worship before school. A lot of times when you got there, the living room was already full.” - Pam Anderson

“[T]he first class would be reading….And then the other teachers would have one with arithmetic. [What] we call math now, she would call arithmetic. And then we’d have another one called history, but it was three different age groups; and when you were finished with your reading then you’d go to arithmetic. Whichever teacher you had, you’d go, that’s how it started off every day. And then we’d break for lunch.” - Janice Clark

“[We studied] reading, writing, and arithmetic; Bible, history, science.…I think the edge that we had [on public school education] was Bible.” - Julius Clark

Baldwin Chapel School Book, 1963. Courtesy Eleanor Wonce
Baldwin Chapel School Book, 1963

“She would plant beans in [an open field], and the children had to go out there and pick the beans and they would come and she would open the beans….And that’s how they’d count.…That’s how she taught children!” - Eleanor Wonce

“[If] you cut up, you’d get the switch.… If you talk back, Ms. Rosetta wouldn’t have that….That’s why she used to say: ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’—Proverbs 6:22—probably got that on her tombstone.” - Jani Ervin, parent

Lunch Time

Members of the Seventh-day Adventist church are forbidden from eating pork, while many others go further and refrain from eating any kind of meat at all. Rosetta Baldwin provided a daily scratch-made lunch prepared by a cook, although some students had their lunch brought from home. Despite dietary resrictions, many students remember lunchtime with colorful memories of food and togetherness. Janice Clark recalls:

“You could eat all the beef you want, but you can’t eat pork. We would have a social, what they call a social, and that consists of hamburgers and hot dogs. They’d be selling hamburgers and hot dogs and potato chips, and we’d eat the real beef or vegetarian beef.”

Children Praying Before Lunch, March 1975
Children Say a Blessing Before Lunch, March 1975

“[Y]ou’d sit there at the table, and wait until your plate come, and after you eat, you get up, and then the next set of kids would come in, and then they’d eat. That’s how it was done. It was nice. It was done orderly, as they say. We just eat and leave, and the next set of kids would eat and leave, until everybody had gotten their fill. Some of them of course would want seconds, because it was just that good.”

Birthday Celebration at Lunch, about 1980
A student's Birthday Celebration at Lunch, about 1980

“Your stomach would start [makes growling noise] you know, and she would hear it. And she’d look up, to see what time it was, because you know the kids be getting ready. They know what time it was—to eat. And she’d get to smiling, and she’d say, ‘Alright, children, time to wash your hands, time for lunch.’ Boy, we’d be knocking each other down, trying to get our hands washed and clean. And she’d check our hands. ‘See, Miss Rosetta, my hands are clean!’ And [we’d] run to the table. Macaroni and cheese—fresh…I can smell it now. Fresh baked bread...Good googly-goo. I mean, she fixed a meal. She didn’t fix no sandwiches, no this woman fixed a meal. Peach cobbler. To die for.”

Recess and Extracurriculars

Most of the children at the Baldwin Chapel School were part of High Point's Burns Hill community and played with each other every day, both in school and in the neighborhood. They played basketball, baseball, kickball, and games of their own invention. Students made friends, had fights, and made up on the playground.

Students playing, about 1975
Baldwin school students on playground, about 1975

“We used to have jump rope where everybody would stand in line and take turns jumping. As far as kickball, Lord that was one popular game back then. We played that quite often.” - Lonnie Butler

“We played…Punchenella. In Punchenella every one gets in a circle, one person got in the middle and everyone asked, “What can you do, Punchenella?” Whatever the person in the center did, we did it too, and Sister Baldwin did it, too!” - Pam Anderson

“[W]e used to go behind the school and pick berries. I don’t know what kind of berries they were—they were like blackberries….And that was fun for us….I ate mine on the spot. I didn’t come back with a lot.” - Kathy Hardin

Baseball on the playground, 1978
Baseball on the playground, 1978

You might decide to ease on up a little bit, do what you want to do.  It wasn't soon after she'd let you know that she's got [her] eyes on you.  And it wouldn't be shortly after that that switch would be on you! Yes sir!  She got me several different times….Like I said, I'm thankful. I'm thankful for having a teacher who liked to let me know that she really cared about us….Here I am fifty years old— never been to jail, never took a drink, never smoked. I'm thankful to God for sending me parents like I had, and I'm thankful that he sent Miss Rosetta to be there for us, to help raise us, to guide us.” - Lonnie Butler

“It was a catch-all school. If you had a bad child and the public school system couldn’t deal with it, they would send it to Miss Rosetta….First thing Miss Rosetta would do is get the child’s attention, and then—we had children come here who were very rebellious—I mean, they’d talk back, use profane language….But after a couple of swipes with that switch, all that changed. Most important was to see the parents come in and notice the change in that child.” - Julius Clark


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