Miss Verna ChrislerWelcome to the Irby Project!

For many of you, the teacher in the photograph to the left is immediately recognizable. But before you drift into memories of your first-grade teacher, Miss Chrisler, let me tell you a bit about the Irby Project . . .

During the University of Central Arkansas's celebration of its 100-year history, I discovered little has been done to preserve the early years of teacher training within the classrooms of either the Training School, as it was called, or the school that came after, Irby Demonstration School. While most of the teachers are now deceased, many of the student teachers they mentored as well as the youngsters in their classes are still alive and can provide a wealth of information about their experiences.

Thus, the Irby Project was created with the following mission: to investigate, document, interpret, and publicize the history of teacher training at the University of Central Arkansas. We are proud of UCA’s important role in Arkansas teacher education and wish to increase the public's awareness of this role by preserving oral histories and documents within a web-based archive to which the public has access.

Having attended "Irby School" myself, I am aware of the exceptional education I received at the hands of dedicated teachers and the impact my early schooling had on my life. Others have expressed to me a similar regard, and I have come to understand that the experiences of those who attended these early "training schools" have engendered powerful memories. Collecting and preserving these memories, then, is also a way of giving back to those who created them. 

Finally, given the nature of the subject, the project would not be complete without a teaching component. So the Irby Project further seeks to provide a research experience to student interns who would like to learn more about the collection and preservation of oral histories. Each semester, a research stipend is available to students who commit to seeking out the stories of those who are connected to the Training School or Irby Demonstration School as either students or teachers. Students also can intern on the technical side of the site, developing web content, uploading materials, and keeping the navigation user friendly.

Thanks for visiting the site. I hope you find enjoyable your exploration of our ever-expanding archive of narratives, photographs, and documents.

Francie Ferguson Bolter
Irby Project Director

Visit our Contact Us page if you'd like to get in touch with me.