Mrs. Doolittle – BCS First Grade Teacher
The Bethany school system in 1927 consisted of three one-room schoolhouses with a total enrollment of 110 students in grades 1-8. Center School stood on the site of the old fire house on Amity Road, Beecher School was located on Sperry Road, and Gate School was located on Litchfield Turnpike (at the corner of 63 and 42.) All eight grades were taught in a single room.
At the start of the 1927 school year, a young woman, Miss Albena Pilvelis, came to the Gate School as a teacher. She had just finished a two-year program at New Haven Normal School (now Southern Connecticut State University) after graduating from Hillhouse High School. Her duties included not only teaching eight grades but also fetching water from the Doolittle residence across Litchfield Turnpike. During one of her water-fetching trips, Miss Pilvelis met Wesley Doolittle, and in 1932, Miss Pilvelis became Mrs. Wesley Doolittle. Mrs. Doolittle retired from teaching to raise her two daughters, Aletha and Edith. She became active in community affairs, serving as chairman of the Bethany Board of Education from 1939 to 1943. She also participated in several local musical productions remembered fondly by longtime Bethany residents.
In 1945, Mrs. Doolittle returned to teaching in the now consolidated Bethany Community School on Peck Road, and for the next 23 years taught in grades one or two. She meanwhile continued her studies and received a bachelor’s degree from New Haven State Teachers’ College in 1952. Mrs. Doolittle taught for 28 years, the greatest length of teaching service served in Bethany at that time. Mrs. Doolittle‘s teaching career began with a roster of 28 pupils distributed among eight grades and ended with 28 pupils, all in grade one.
The influence of a teacher spreads outside the classroom. Mrs. Doolittle taught more than 700 students over the years. In Mrs. Doolittle‘s classes, there were never 28 children -- instead there was a child named Helen, one named John, one named Ruth, another named Henry -- 28 individuals, each requiring and getting individual. Mrs. Doolittle was an inspiration to her pupils, her colleagues, and her community, and a credit to her profession. Any Bethany residents who had Mrs. Doolittle as a teacher and would like to share their memories please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
--Linda Wooster, BHS president