Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Ivy Stockwell dedicated her life to Berthoud’s schools

March 23, 2023 | Community News

By Mark French

The Surveyor

Author’s note: Since 1987 the United States has formally recognized March as the month to celebrate women’s contributions to history, culture and society. During March 2023 “Tales of the Little Thompson” will feature some of the women teachers who through their strength and determination helped in the development of Berthoud and the Little Thompson Valley.
This series of Women’s History Month articles will feature four Berthoud High School graduates — Anna Johnson Hanna (BHS Class of 1909), Ina Cool Haworth (BHS Class of 1911), Ivy Stockwell (BHS Class of 1912), and Reva Graves Bradney (BHS Class of 1920) — who were linked to the community’s country schools.

Much has been written in this column about Ivy Stockwell. Her influence over the children of the Berthoud community ranged from the 1910s through the 1970s. The elementary school at 175 Fifth St. in Berthoud is named for her and that is fitting since her teaching career spanned 51 years. She continued her profession for so many years that she taught the grandchildren of her early students.

Ivy Stockwell’s early life was marked by loss. Born in 1892 at a ranch near Campion, her mother died during childbirth when Ivy was five years of age. He father passed away suddenly in 1903 leaving Ivy and her three sisters at the mercy of community members. For a time the girls lived in rented rooms at the United Brethren church parsonage at 647 Fourth St.

In 1912 shortly after Stockwell had graduated from Berthoud High School she secured a teaching position in the primary department at the Whipple country school. The Whipple School (still standing and now a private residence) was located two miles east of Berthoud in Weld County.

Students attending the Whipple country school hailed from farm families living in a rich farming area east of Berthoud where sugar beet crops controlled life. In fact, it was so important that family members help with the fall beet harvest that the Whipple school board employed Stockwell to teach an early summer session for the boys who had missed classes during harvest season.
After shifting from Whipple to the Old Berthoud country school for four years, Ivy Stockwell accepted a job teaching third grade at the Berthoud School. At that time in 1918 first through twelfth-grade students living in town were educated in the two-story brick building located at the center of present-day Fickel Park.

For the next 45 years — from the fall of 1918 to the spring of 1963 — Stockwell presided over second or fifth-grade classes at Berthoud’s elementary school. Miss Stockwell, who never married, made her home at 906 Fourth Street with Mollie, an older sister who raised her from childhood.

Over her career, Stockwell was known as a strict disciplinarian. She did not hesitate to keep an unruly student after school and invariably included the Pledge of Allegiance as part of every morning’s routine. She was also known as a kind and generous person who anonymously purchased shoes for students during the Great Depression.

In the spring of 1963, when the original Berthoud elementary school that was located in present-day Fickel Park closed its doors for the final time, the 70-year-old Stockwell retired from teaching. When a new school was opened the next fall at 560 Bunyan Ave., a new teacher was hired to replace Stockwell who had taught 51 years in Berthoud area schools — two at Whipple, four at Old Berthoud and 45 at Berthoud.

Stockwell remained active as an educator, serving as a substitute teacher at the new Berthoud Elementary for another 10 years. By 1975, Berthoud’s elementary student population had grown to the extent that another grade school was needed on the south side of town. A second elementary school was built at 175 Fifth St. at a cost of $967,714 and named for Ivy Stockwell.

After enduring a childhood during which time she lost a seven-year-old brother to diphtheria, a mother and infant sibling to the difficulties of childbirth, and a father to appendicitis, Ivy Stockwell lent her rock-solid stability to Berthoud school students for over half a century. That’s why a school is named for her.

Next week’s “Tale of the Little Thompson” will feature Reva Graves Bradney.

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