For many it is difficult to imagine what it might be like to attend a one-room school in which all eight grades were taught by one teacher. Ada Painter Philips, born to a family of teachers near Pine Swamp in Warwick Township, knows exactly what it is like to be part of a one-room school. In 1937, two years out of Warwick high school in Knauertown, and fresh out of West Chester Teachers' College, she started teaching at the one-room school at Nantmeal village. On Wed., April 16, Philips was celebrated by East Nantmeal township residents and dignitaries in recognition of the many contributions she has made to her community throughout the years.
Philips taught approximately 18 students in eight grades in the school at Nantmeal village. "
The older boys shoveled the snow, she said,and sometimes helped her clean the school. She acknowledged that her own brothers and sisters were "wild, but when they went to school they settled down."
Today, kids are different," she added. "They want to do what they want, when they want to do it."
After completing their eight years at the school in Nantmeal Village, Philips' students attended Warwick high school at the corner of Route 23 and St. Peters Road - the same school where Philips had graduated. The red brick building that Philips saw in use as a high school is currently being converted for use as the administrative offices of the Owen J. Roberts school district.
Philips taught at the Nantmeal Village one-room school for four years, then completed her own higher education during the summer term, in West Chester.
After marrying and having two sons, Philips taught at Knauertown, then used her love for teaching to guide the East Nantmeal Historical Society. She was appointed president of the organization, and East Nantmeal resident Charlie Loomis reminisced during the award presentation about Philips' impact on the Society's work.
"During the Bicentennial Celebration she came up with the idea of starting a history club," Loomis said. He added that she organized the meetings, got the speakers and helped the Society sell books to raise the approximately $4,000 needed to rebuild the wall at Quaker cemetery.
Philips served as president of the Society until 2002, when she turned leadership over to Christine Gordon Watson.
In addition to Loomis, speakers at the award presentation included supervisor Henry Osborn, and Tip Guest, whose father had hired, as he said, "this very special person."
Philips was presented with a certificate of appreciation, plants, flowers, cards, and an original portrait of Philips drawn by Ann Bedrick. Guest concluded the presentation ceremony by addressing Philips directly. "We want to thank you for what you have done for this township for many years."