GRANT TOWNSHIP NO. 3 -- Craig School

By Esther Oloff, former student and teacher

 Esther Oloff’s School History

Esther Oloff is a native of Plymouth County, having been born July 29, 1911, on a farm a mile south and ¾ mile west of Craig.

Her first eight years of school were in the same building in which she later taught.  It was an independent district with four districts joined with the town of Craig. So there were two individual rooms.  One for lower grades and one for upper grades.

She graduated from Ireton.  At that time there were only a few pupils that went on to High School. But a neighbor’s son had a Ford roadster and picked Esther up as he attended the High School.

She married in 1931 and lived on a farm.  Her husband passed away in 1951 and Esther with her two children moved to Craig to live with her parents.

She went to Sheldon to get a teaching certificate and taught two years in a country school.  In 1954, Miss Peterson, the Co. Superintendent, asked Esther to teach the Craig School, because there was a lack of teachers at that time.  She had to go to summer school at Westmar to work toward getting a First Grade Certificate.  Sometimes she was able to go to Orange City to pick up extra credits. Through going to summer schools and night schools she graduated from Westmar.

One of the classes she enrolled in was Creative Writing taught by a former Superintendent of LeMars Community School.  She wrote poems as part of an assignment.  Each one had a “W” which meant that it was eligible to be put in the Westmar Writings in a book form, but Westmar did not publish those books any more, so the poems were kept by Esther.

In 1971, Esther wrote a poem, “Memory Lane” for the retirement of Mr. Kissinger. Later at her retirement, she wrote another poem. These poems include school history that need to be preserved. 

Sentimental Journey

The journey is over,
I’ve reached sixty-five,
So has Craig School
No children---inside.

This school was built a long time ago.
Oh----around nineteen fifteen or so,
The place where it stands was a field of wild hay,
Where the Indian children perhaps did play.

Then the ambitious farmers
Along with Craig Town,
Formed the Independent District,
Which won great renown.

Two teachers were hired to teach in this school
The three r’s, history and the Golden Rule.
I, too, had my eight years of learning here,
That’s why it’s so sentimental and dear.

Then way back in nineteen fifty four
The teacher, was me, who opened the door.
I never dreamed that someday I
Would teach my home school so nearby.

The enrollment at Craig School really grew,
To help now another teacher came, too.
A charming lady, Ida Nicholson by name,
Became my co-worker in the teaching game.

Eighteen years we taught side by side,
Watching kids come and go, with pride.
Like two mother hens with chicks, we’d become,
Loving and guiding and teaching each one.

Talking, sharing, and planning together,
Nicholson and I put on the best programs ever.
Remember the Lawrence Welk, or Sullivan show?
Oh, my! That seems like a long time ago.

But now the doors will be closed for good
What will become of this building that stood
All sixty odd years through weather and storm,
Will it be filled with beans or maybe corn?

Why tear down old landmarks for something new?
Progress, they say is necessary too.
So I’ll just shut my eyes and also each ear
And just remember the kids who were so dear.

Thanks to all friends and patrons true,
To all the kids that I’ve taught, too.
I hope I’ve inspired you in some small way,
To live, to work, and be fair every day.

By Esther Oloff
May 26, 1976

~Esther Winterfeld Oloff taught Preston No. 1, 1929-1930; Preston No. 6, 1930-1931; Preston No. 7, 1951-1954; and Grant Craig School, 1954-1962.


Photograph of Mrs. Oloff (seated in the car) with Virginia VanWyhe and her cousin at the Craig Centennial celebration in June 2011. Virginia was a former student of Mrs. Oloff.


Esther Oloff Obituary

Born 29 Jul 1911
Died 12 Jan 2012


~Photograph submitted by Edgar Lee, son of Virginia VanWyhe.





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