The one-room schoolhouse in Columbia, Tennessee

Classrooms have taken on a different look this year because of COVID-19. A one-room schoolhouse in rural Tennessee has been teaching kids a whole new way, long before the pandemic.

Rebecca Carnell is not what you call a conventional classroom teacher. She runs the Hardison Mill Homestead School in Columbia, Tennessee.

“I believe in the experiences that we have when we’re not putting the kids in a box and making them sit and do things,” she said. “We’re creating an environment where kids feel safe, they feel loved, they’re learning and sometimes don’t even know it.”

The One Room Schoolhouse is the realization of a dream of musician and producer Rory Feek and his late wife Joey.

“We kind of have this philosophy that everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student,” Rory said. “We have a lot of guest teachers that come in at least every couple of days, where people who maybe aren’t certified teachers, for us they’re some of the best teachers.

It is geared toward children with all skill levels. Getting an education, with a heavy emphasis on agriculture and not just what they can grow in the garden, either.

“Next to their playground, they have 165 baby chicks. They have 19 turkeys, they have four peacocks, they have a pony, there’s four pigs, five cows, and we’re just getting started,” Rory said.

Each child is nurtured and encouraged to learn in their own way.

“I want the kids to thrive and grow as they naturally would and so being outdoors, in nature, being hands on, allowing the child to learn what they want to learn in a sense, and just being a tool for that,” Carnell added. “We are really striving to practice what we preach and live not only just in the hours that we’re in school, but really take that out and live the life that we’re learning about and teaching about on the farm.”

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