Pyeongtaek Elementary school opened in 1986 in a four-classroom building. The staff consisted of Principal Dr. Paul Finkbeiner and two classroom teachers for the approximately forty-five students that were enrolled. Dr. Finkbeiner taught the preschool students, one teacher taught grades one and two, and the other teacher taught grades three through six. The school also had a secretary and a para-professional aide. In addition to administrative duties, Dr. Finkbeiner taught physical education. The students were bussed or walked to school in the mornings, but two afternoons per week Dr. Finkbeiner and the students ran/jogged to the main gate where their parents met them when school was dismissed. Their educational program was supplemented by a variety of activities and field trips during the school year. By the end of the year, there was discussion about closing the school; however, after school let out for the summer, it was determined that the school would remain open.
The following year, 1987-88, Mr. Al Lohse was the principal of the school. The kindergarten through grade six student population remained about the same as the previous year. By the end of the year, the Post Commander and the parents of the students agreed to bus their fourth through sixth grade students to Osan Elementary for the next school year. The students would benefit by having additional programs such as art, music, physical education, and be able to eat lunch in the school’s cafeteria. This could not be offered at Pyeongtaek.
Ms. Ruth Morgan became the principal from 1988 until the school’s closure in 1990. The student population for grades kindergarten through three varied between forty to forty-five students. Kindergarten through grade three were bussed to Osan once a month to attend art, music, and physical education classes and to eat in the cafeteria. In addition, working with the school’s officer, they enlisted a volunteer from a Korean school to offer art, music, and physical education once a month to the students. Ms. Morgan offered to help with English pronunciation to the teaching staff at the Korean school in exchange for the volunteer services to her school. It was a delightful cultural experience for the students. The students took a field trip to Chinhae, and the following year the students from Chinhae spent an overnight with Pyeongtaek families. The school sponsored a spaghetti dinner and fed 300 military members at the school. The military provided the cook. Those that were in attendance enjoyed being at the school and interacting with elementary school students.
The Pyeongtaek school maintained very good relations with the military during its four-year existence.
A subsequent decision was made that DoDD schools with a student population of less than 100 would close. For the next school year, 1990-91, all students from Pyeongtaek, Camp Humphreys’ area were bussed to Osan Air Base to attend the elementary, middle, and high schools.
Written by John Blom