Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Looking ahead to our past – A visit to the old Croft Schoolhouse

Ribbon Cutting of Pioneer Springs Community School

This past week, Pioneer Springs Community School hosted a ribbon cutting of a new minimal-tuition private school at the site of the old Croft School House.  This new school is rooted in the basic school philosophy of Dr. Ernest Boyer, former president for the Advancement of Teaching.  This education philosophy is the foundation of the Community School in Davidson and the Corvian Community School.   Pioneer Springs will open this fall with a Kindergarten and First grade and plans to open another grade level each year thereafter.

Abigail Jennings, a Charter Member of the Lake Norman Chamber and president of Lake Norman Realty Company knew of my interest in history.  I also serve as Chairman of the Historic  Hugh Torance House and Store Board of Directors in Huntersville.

The Croft School House, site of the new Pioneer Springs Community School, first opened its doors in 1890 to serve the rural, railroad-centered business district of Croft in North Mecklenburg.  It’s been almost 80 years since its closing but I was amazed at how many alumni still turned out to take part in the announcement.

Abigail Jennings with Bill Russell

One of the senior women, Mrs. Barnette, had no idea as to my identity – actually that wasn’t important to her – as she approached to show me a picture of her class with their teacher.  She pointed out some of the students in the old black and white photo as her eyes sparkled and the bright smile filled her face as she pointed out her friends and neighbors. She traced her finger over each face on the picture, stopping to tell a brief story about each student as her memories took us both back in time.  

The school was converted to a soldier’s home after the War (World War II) for the returning vets and several years ago became an historic landmark and today also houses an architect who specializes in historic preservation.

I could tell Abigail was as passionate about the school as Mrs. Barnette was about its history.  I asked what inspired her to get involved in this project.  Abigail stated, “My husband and I decided to join two other families to start Pioneer Springs Community School, as we had recently been exposed to the popular educational model of “The Basic School” taught at the Community School of Davidson last year when our daughter attended Corvian Community School.”

Abigail added, “Unfortunately, when Corvian received their charter, everyone had to go through the lottery process and most families did not get back in. We realized that with over 4,000 children on waiting lists for these two schools, our area desperately needed another school that provided this type of holistic learning environment, and that’s how it all got started.”

Croft School Alumni gather for announcement

During the opening ceremony, those of us in attendance were reminded of the words from T.S. Elliott when he said, “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

Walking the halls of the old school-house last week, I pictured Mrs. Barnette as a little girl. Sitting intently in her chair, listening to her teacher teaching the basic English and math of her day.  She and the other students would later be responsible for much of what we know in North Mecklenburg and now Lake Norman.  Now eighty years later, those same classrooms will again be a center of learning and once again we as a community will arrive where it all started and we will know the place for the very first time.

Pioneer Springs is currently accepting applications for enrollment in Kindergarten and First Grade.  For more information please visit, or email

August 6, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Lake Norman / North Mecklenburg History | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment