History: The Crossnore School, a beacon of hope.
In 1913 doctors Eustace and Mary Martin Sloop started a school in the poverty drenched mountains of western North Carolina, holding strong to a simple and elegant belief:
“Education is the best way for a child to rise above his circumstances.”
The two doctors trudged on foot and rode horseback up steep dirt trails in isolated valleys to bring medicine to mountain families and convince farmers to let their children come to school. Because of poverty and distance, the school in Crossnore, inspired and directed by Mary Martin Sloop, eventually took in boarders, then built dormitories to accommodate them.
“The boarding-school idea came out of necessity.”
— Dr. Mary Martin Sloop
Over the decades, Crossnore gained a national reputation for effectiveness in changing lives and breaking patterns of poverty, moonshine and child marriages. Mary Martin Sloop spoke at Daughters of the American Revolution rallies and conferences across the nation, inspiring her audiences with tales of her life-changing mountain school. She eventually brought these stories to paper in her autobiography, Miracle in the Hills.
“Life at Crossnore was on the pioneering order.”
— Dr. Mary Martin Sloop,
writing in her autobiography
The Sloops built a school, hospital, dental clinic and eventually, a full-fledged boarding school to give children the basis for an improved life. They brought to Avery County the first electricity, the first telephone, the first paved road and the first residential school. Through the Sloops' advocacy, public schools flourished in Avery County. By then The Crossnore School facilities were filled with children who, through no fault of their own, could no longer live at home. Roads, growth and a common school community created a new horizon for families once cut off in narrow, isolated coves.
“Noblesse Oblige: when one is helped there is a noble obligation to help others.”
— Dr. Mary Martin Sloop,
describing a way of life at The Crossnore School
At the beginning of the new millenium, Dr. Phyllis Crain, once an award winning teacher and superintendent of Avery County Schools, determined that if Crossnore children were to get an even footing in life, they needed an educational program structured for them. She brought the "school" back to The Crossnore School when she opened Crossnore Academy, a pace-setting charter school, part of the North Carolina initiative to establish 100 innovative schools in the state.
With the dedication of the Wayne Densch Education Building, The Crossnore School reclaimed the educational foundation beneath its commitment to give hurting children a chance for a better life. The school’s highly qualified teachers enable it to meet not only the special needs of Crossnore residents, but also the priorities of area day students who live at home and whose educational needs are best met at Crossnore.
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