Meet JoAnn Dunn

Written by Linda Kirkpatrick on .

People of all ages like JoAnn Dunn -- she's just one of those people whose appeal spans the decades.  She relates to young and old with equal enthusiasm.

During the summers, she holds half-day sessions at the Medlen School, a one-room schoolhouse she was instrumental in restoring for the Jefferson County Historical Society in the mid-1990s.  The State Historical Fund had just been formed with money coming from the gambling industry, and she jumped in with both feet to apply for funding.  Not deterred by a turndown the first year, she persisted and was successful in eventually getting a $20,000 grant for the project.

The schoolhouse, located about four miles from Tiny Town at 8569 South Turkey Creek Road, was built in 1886 and moved to its present location in 1900, functioning as a one-room schoolhouse until 1952 when centralized school districts came into being.  Schools like this were spaced 2-5 miles apart, designed to be close enough for children to walk or ride horses each way.

JoAnn designed a curriculum for the 3-day 1930s school experience, exposing children in grades one through five to give them a feel for "readin', 'ritin', 'rithmetic, and recitation" as children did back then.  Kids are encouraged to dress in period clothing; JoAnn has sewn smocks for those who need help with costumes.  She teaches three sessions in the month of June, each comprised of three half-days.

Playing marbles and jacks and jumping rope are popular activities, as are making lemonade and homemade ice cream.  Kids learn to use pen and ink, write on slate boards, read from McGuffey Readers, and participate in spelling bees.  (To see pictures of the Medlen School program, click here.)

Her degree in teaching and love for history as well as for children make her a natural for this sort of thing.  She developed the Pioneeer History program for fourth graders at the Hiwan Homestead Museum.

She was equally as popular with the older set when she volunteered with the Jefferson County Historical Society and was elected President her first year.  Her leadership qualities are apparent.

JoAnn also enjoys singing and has been a member of the Evergreen Chorale since 1987, serving as president twice.  Admittedly, she's never had a lead role but is content to be a member of the chorus.  She, her daughter, and her granddaughter all performed in "The King and I," making it a first for three generations of one family to perform together in a Chorale production.

She also sings in the choir at the Methodist Church and teaches Sunday School.  She's director of the children's choir as well.

During the winter, JoAnn volunteers as an instructor with the National Ski Center for the Disabled at Winter Park and helps with administrative duties for the organization.

She loves the outdoors and particularly likes hiking and sea kayaking.  For her 70th birthday she experienced a 10-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon with her daughter and granddaughter.

Thanks, JoAnn, for all you've done and continue to do to make this such a special place to live!