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FEBRUARY 26, 2017


B y B R A D S T U T Z M A N

Much like the literal river

that runs through George-

town, our public school system

is, in Marsha Farney’s words,

also like a waterway.

What started in the 19th

century as a trickle grew, fed

by a host of tributaries until it

became first a streamand then

the mighty river that today

serves 11,500 students across

17 campuses and 180 square


Much has changed. Cows no

longer trample school flower-

beds. Students — coaxed into

battle against corn-eating var-

mints—are no longer paid for

how many rat tails they can

deliver for their teacher to du-

tifully count.

Yet much abides. Dr. Far-

ney wrote her 2007 doctoral

dissertation on the district’s

history from1850 until 1966. In

speakingwith her—as well as

stalwarts such as former Su-

perintendent Jack Frost, for-

mer Business Manager Jerry

Graham and 50-year educator

Paula Doerfler — a pattern


The Georgetown school dis-

trict — historically and to this

day — serves the larger com-

munity of which it is a part

and, in turn, is served by that

same community.

Passions have sometimes

strained these bonds. More

than 100 years ago, for exam-

ple, mandatory school atten-

dancewasacontroversial idea.

Yet over time, bonds of affec-

tions have deepened.

Ms. Doerfler, a teacher and

counselorwho retiredonly last

year, recalled shewas also nur-

tured by 12 years as a George-

town student.

“Sixty-two years of my life

have been spent inside GISD

schools,” she said.

“And I lovedeveryminute of

that time.”

The early days

Both formal and informal

educationof youngpeoplewas

already happening in George-

town, before Senate Bill 225

created the Georgetown In-

dependent School District in


“Until 1884 what everyone

did was home-schooling,” Dr.

Farney said.

“It was all about home-

school, or neighborhood, then

the churches started picking

it up.”

From Dr. Farney’s disserta-

tion we learn the significance

of 1884. It was “when George-

town residents voted to as-

sume control over the public

school and create an indepen-

dent school district. This al-

lowed the community to raise

Community support grew through Georgetown

school district’s long and colorful history

Marsha Farney devoted four years of her life to compiling a history of the school district. She says

the community’s long-abiding value of education has made Georgetown what it is today.

Brad Stutzman

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