Little school, big community: Inside Ola's two-room schoolhouse

OLA, IDAHO - Beautiful farmland, roaming cattle and wide open space define Idaho’s Gem County; and if you travel just 23 miles northeast of Emmett, you’ll find a state gem hiding in the shadow of Butte Valley.

Ola Elementary School in the small town of Ola, Idaho, is a two-room schoolhouse. 

Twenty-three students in grades K-6 attend the school, which is listed on the National Registry of History Places, learning in multi-age classrooms from head teacher, Amy Davis. 

“The great thing about having all of the classrooms together is that you can be teaching one thing here, and the students that are above that can get some review,” Davis said. “…maybe they thought, ‘Oh, I didn’t catch that,’ but the students who are below that, they’re hearing it already and so when they come into that grade, they’ve already heard it before. They really learn from each other.”

While Ola Elementary might not be exactly the same as some other schools, the 108-year-old school is equipped with Google Chromebooks, smart boards, tablets and desktop computers.

“We don’t have a nurse here, we don’t have a lunch lady, we don’t have all of those parts that make up a larger school,” Davis said. “Our education here is just as strong as it is in any other area. We have our technology and we have the same curriculum.”

From language arts to math, even gardening and robotics, Davis says Ola Elementary has it all — and then some. 

“The kids who come from this school not only have that, but they have that strong, strong sense of what a community is,” Davis said. 

Community is certainly at the core of Ola, and is deeply rooted in the school’s history. 

“It’s just a nice, small community school and everyone in the community helps the school out,” said sixth-grader Logan Human. 

“Yeah, I really like it because it ’s really small and there’s only two rooms…two classrooms…and there’s not that many students,” said sixth-grader Ezra Andelin. 

Many students are third and fourth generation Ola families, which means a lot of them attend school with their siblings. Even Mrs. Davis has gone to school with some of her students’ family members. 

“I went to school here. My mother was the teacher here,” Davis said. 

So, at the end of the day, the element that sets Ola Elementary apart from the rest may just be the key to its students’ success. 

“They know each other, they know each other’s families, they know everything about each other,” Davis said. “They actually become a family here, so it’s really nice.”

Ola Elementary School is part of the Emmett Independent School District. So, once the students finish sixth grade, they are bussed down to Emmett to finish their education.

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