Betty Yeiter cut the ribbon that officially opened the Yeiter Learning Center, 320 Amity, on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 9. The new school was named to honor Betty and her late husband Donald Yeiter.
The building used to be the home of St. Mary's School, but it was renovated by Lowell Area Schools. The preschool was called “Curiosity Corner” and it was part of the Bushnell Elementary building on Elizabeth St.
“This building is dedicated to Betty Yeiter and her family,” said Lowell Area Schools superintendent Gregory Pratt just before the ribbon cutting ceremony. “The Yeiters have been great supporters of the community and great supporters of the school district. Betty has made contributions as a teacher and by donating property to the district in the past. She has been tremendous and we're very fortunate. It's very common that she'll stop by to check in and make sure we're doing all the right stuff.”
“I'm just overwhelmed, that's all I can say,” Yeiter said. “I can't believe it.”
Donald Yeiter was a veteran of World War II who survived the Battle of the Bulge to become a successful local dairy farmer. Betty Yeiter, born and raised in Lowell, was a teacher in the district for over 30 years. She began her career in a one-room country schoolhouse south of Alto and spent much of her career as a reading education specialist at Alto Elementary. Now age 95, she remains active in the schools.
“I always enjoyed teaching and I gave it my best,” Yeiter said. “I taught for 34 years, the first two years in an old country school, and then I came here to Lowell. I taught third grade, and I liked that because they're very independent. I always said I wasn't good enough to teach first and second grades. That takes your best teachers, because everything they learn, they learn from you. I taught third, fourth and fifth grades, then I went into junior high. I loved that very much because I taught my favorite subjects: history, geography and civics. Not 'social studies,' civics. I read a book published in 2019 that said some schools are thinking of not teaching history anymore. Why be so insane? If you study the past, you'll have a better understanding of the future. When I had my children, I taught part time. In those days, if you got pregnant you couldn't teach! Times are different now, education has changed a lot.”
Pratt said the new building is necessary because of increased enrollment as families continue moving to Lowell.
“This construction is part of a long term plan to provide space within our K-12 system for growth in our community,” Pratt said during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “This community is not going to stay the same size that it currently is. [...] None of this gets done without the community being focused on teaching and learning.”
“We're excited about the change,” said Yeiter Learning Center teacher Jessica Kissinger. “It looks very nice.”
“We're very excited,” said Yeiter Learning Center teacher Alisha Sage. “It's like a brand new start.”
“We have such a focus on early childhood [education] in today's society, and for all the right reasons,” Pratt said. “The earlier we can interact with young people, the better off their success will be later in life, including early elementary reading.”