Prior to Brownstown's first schoolhouse being built around 1879, children walked to the Cumberland school located west of the village. The first school house was a one-room building on the northwest corner of First and Division Streets. It served as the schoolhouse until 1904. The building was then sold and moved to Oak Street, and remodeled into a home.
The first section of the building called Junior High, was built in 1904. It was a four room brick structure, two rooms on the first floor and two upstairs on the second floor. The first teacher or principal lived upstairs with his family, with the lower rooms being used for the classrooms. The second section of four rooms was added to this building about 1916. Oliver Reece was a teacher here during this time. Some of the rooms upstairs were subdivided into smaller rooms, and in 1930 a gymnasium with a stage, was added. Prior to this time, basketball games were played outdoors, in Stine's Hall (above Gene's UI Food Mart) and in the Dycus Community Hall.
The first high school classes in the Brownstown school were started about 1913 and they continued to maintain a two and three year high school until 1917 when the fourth year of high school was added. This continued until 1922 when a three-year high school was mandated. In 1926 it went back to a four-year school and has remained that way to this day.
It is interesting to note the first vocational agricultural course in Fayette Co. was begun at Brownstown High School in 1930. The classes were reportedly held under the bleachers in the gymnasium. Alex Reed taught this first vocational class and during the 17 years of his service as ag teacher and unit superintendent, students and parents alike highly respected his judgment on farm problems and school management. Since leaving the Brownstown area, Mr. Reed served with the Foreign Extension Service in Nepal, Saigon, South Viet Nam and in India.
Following the oil boom, the capacity of the schools were taxed. Class times were staggered to accommodate the number of children for a time. One group would attend in the morning , with a second group coming to school at 2:00p.m. Later, a separate building was erected and the home economics class was held there. The current building was constructed in 1941 with the Board of Directors composed of: Harold M. Brown, Charles Campbell, James Feezel, John Hamilton, and Sidney B. Vance.
The elementary and high school buildings have had no major renovation or addition in the past 25 years. When the tornadoes blew through town in November of 1984, the roofs on both the elementary and high school were damaged.
There are always changes which affect schools. The frequency and the intensity of the changes has been phenomenal during the past 10 years. Reform in education has been initiated by the Illinois State Board of Education and incorporated in laws enacted by the Illinois General Assembly. Technology has become an important consideration for preparing students for the changing workplace. Fifteen years ago the Commodore computers were the "cutting-edge" and today our students have access to networked IBM computers and internet services. In 1994 a high-tech tool, the Accelerated Reader, which promotes reading interest and comprehension with incentives, was initiated.
During the 1993-1994 school year, Miss Sandra Stine, the physical education teacher, participated in the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program. She spent a year teaching in Tampere, Finland, trading places with Miss Riita Heleena Maunula, who then came to Brownstown, teaching in Miss Stine's place.
Brownstown students participate in vocational classes offered in Vandalia, Altamont, and St. Elmo if classes are not offered as part of the curriculum at Brownstown. The elementary school is especially proud of its 4000 volume student library made possible by reading improvement grants and the help of the School Community Club. Students at the high school library have access to computers offering various multi-media CD-Rom programs and to the internet. The library offers over 6,000 volumes and can order on inter-library loan any book a student wishes to borrow. We are a member of the Shawnee Library System.
Howard Jackson (1970-1971)
Tom Robertson (1971-1987)
Robert Isaacs (1987-1990)
Harlan Newbold (1990-1995)
Jeanne Jones (1995-2003)
Doug Slover (2003-2012)
Adam Bussard (2013-present)
Elementary School Principals
Edith Garrett (1971-1992)
Chloteen Page (1992-1994)
Jeanine Wendling (1994-2011)
Angela Reeter (2012- present)
High School Principals
Thomas Bryant (1970-1973)
Dale Lane (1973-1976)
Carroll Smith (1976-1978)
Gene Logue (1978-1986)
Jeanne Jones (1986-1995)
Steve Wilson (1995-2008)
Adam Bussard ( 2008-2012)
Michael Shackleford (2012-present)
Written by JoAnn Strobel for the 125th Year (1870-1995) Celebration Booklet