The Living Treasures Program of the Museum of the San Ramon Valley presented its second award last week to Joan and Don Kurtz for their contributions during the last 13 years to the education of children. They are the founders of the One Room School House program, and they continue to run the show. Every third-grader in the district visits the old Tassajara Grammar School on Finley Road off Camino Tassajara each spring. The students dress in period costume for the day, and bring lunches that hark back to the 1800s. They sit in old school desks as Mistress and Master Kurtz lead them in lessons as they would have in the 1880s.
The presentation last week, held in the Mount Diablo Room at the Danville Public Library, was much more than an award ceremony. It was a fun-filled celebration as the awardees played their schoolmaster and schoolmarm roles with a room full of "students" who mostly had been out of the classroom for many, many years. Joan and Don Kurtz had all their props in place as the students arrived, including a list of "How to Live a Happy Life," which noted truthfulness, honesty, punctuality, cleanliness and kindness. They proceeded to teach these lessons, even checking the students' hands to make sure they had washed before coming to class. They also led the students in a pledge to the flag - a very different pledge to a flag with 39 stars.
It was an entertaining evening, educational in the best sense, as these born-again students showed a mischievous side that must have frustrated (and amused?) their teachers many decades ago. The Living Treasures Program is being developed with much thought and effort to make the awards evening an enjoyable experience for those who attend. The program itself is a treasure and deserves the support of all of us.