Miss Tinsley taught at Pleasant View –District 50, a one-room school house built for black children in the Pleasant View farming community of western Kansas. The school was also used as the church and community center for area black settlers.
The school, made of stone, was built circa 1905 by Charlie Schnebly on land owned by Viola and Albert Wheeler. Mr. Schnebly, Viola’s father, was a stone mason who used stones quarried from area chalk bluffs to construct the school.
The one-room school house was located on the northwest corner of the Northwest Quarter 24-13-34. (Page 397, History of Logan County Kansas, 1997-1987) The structure, though beginning to crumble in 2001, was the last all-black school in Kansas still standing. Today, only stone remnants remain.
Although Miss Tinsley taught boys and girls, most of the boys had to forego schooling during the farming season. When they returned to class from the fields, they had lost continuity in learning and progress toward graduation. Consequently, Miss Tinsley had to be a generalist because of the range of ages (5-17) and abilities. Depending on the needs of each student, she taught appropriate reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as health, music, art, and physical education.
The goal was to ready these youngsters to attend high school after the eighth grade. However, because of the reality of the times (1920 and 1930s), few of these children went beyond the eighth grade. They had to return to the fields. Times were particularly hard for blacks in segregated Kansas, but several of these young people (with little more than a sixth grade education) went on to become successful farmers.
Because of the legacy of slaver, earning a college degree in the 1920s was a luxury that few blacks could afford. There were no grants, loans, scholarships or family fortunes to help these young people acquire advanced education.
In the 1920s and 1930, County Examinations were required for Teacher Certification in the all-black segregated rural schools in Kansas. Miss Tinsley, a 1927 Oakley High School graduate, successfully passed the examinations for the Beginning Level Certificate and the Advanced Level Certificate.
Miss Tinsley was so special because she taught needy youngsters, during difficult times, under challenging conditions. During her tenure, 1929 and 1930, the one-room school house was a far cry from other, better equipped schools. The poverty and racial tensions facing her students affected their ability to focus completely on academics.
Even though Miss Tinsley understood the pressures her pupils faced, she had high standards in her classroom. She was strict. With the specter of slavery not far removed, she knew that education was critical for the advancement of black youngsters. They had to learn to read. They had to learn to write. They had to learn to county their money.
Miss Tinsley went on to marry Leo H. Clark in 1934. They had nine children. She now has scores of grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. As the oldest living member of eight siblings, she has long been the institutional memory of the family.
In addition to her years in the classroom, Miss Tinsley has been a teacher to scores of family and community members.
She is the most prolific letter writer in the family. Her beautifully crafted letters are works of art. Her penmanship, written in cursive script, flows beautifully across the page. Because each generation stands on the shoulders of the previous generations, many family members credit the development of their writing skills to her letters and her willingness to teach.