Albion Normal School

A view of the Albion Normal School, which used to be a brownfields site before the environmental contamination was cleaned up.

Q: What does “normal” mean in Albion State Normal School?

A: A normal school is defined as a school created to train high school graduates to be teachers and establish teaching standards or norms, said Cheryl Sebold with Idaho State University’s Eli M. Oboler Library. Most schools are now called teachers’ colleges, however, in some places the term normal school is still used.

“Albion State Normal School was established by the Idaho State Legislature in 1893,” according to Albion Campus Retreat’s website. “The citizens of Albion actively lobbied the schools establishment, and donated the land and labor for the new campus.

“The school offered a two year teacher training program until 1947, when it was renamed Southern Idaho College of Education and awarded baccalaureate degrees. The school remained troubled by low income and lack of funding and finally closed by the state in 1951. During its existence Albion State Normal School awarded approximately 6,460 degrees.

“The campus remained vacant until 1957, when the Magic Valley Christian College opened at the site, and later closed in 1969. The beautiful historic campus was locked and boarded up until the city of Albion auctioned it off in 2007, when the Mortensen family purchased it with plans for a retreat,” the website says.

“A majority of teachers in southern Idaho attended the Albion Normal School. These schools tended to stress practical learning and gave more classroom exposure, while other schools generally taught only theory and philosophy of education. They maintained rural teaching centers, where students were sent for a period of three months to teach under the direction of skilled instructors, who were members of the faculty. Offering two year courses, each school was directed by a president, who was responsible to the State Board of Education,” according to The Knowledge Box: Country Schoolhouses to Current Schools of Twin Falls County, Idaho, by Mareda and Cecil Wright.

“Prior to the opening of the two normal schools [including Lewiston State Normal School], most teachers were women, who received $40 to $80 per term,” the Wrights said.

In the U.S., teacher colleges or normal schools became universities beginning in the 1960s.

Another school also supplied Magic Valley with teachers, the Gooding College in Gooding was owned and managed by the Wesleyan Methodist Church. This local college existed from 1911 to 1938, the Wrights said.

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