Corey returns to home he never really left

September 9, 2009

From his office in the southwest corner of University Hall's third floor, Noble Corey's windows allow him to look out on a view that has changed since he first gazed out of them.

The apartments are gone that were to the south of what was then Indiana State University's Laboratory School. So is the gas station where students would run for sodas and the Nick Knack, a small restaurant in an alley adjacent to the north side of the building that depended on Lab School students.

"I've been here for my entire life," said the professor of secondary education in the curriculum, instruction and media technology department.

University Hall, former home of the Lab School, will have its rededication at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10.

Corey began kindergarten at ISU's Lab School in September 1942. He graduated from State High in June 1954 in a class of 39 students.

"Enrollment was around 750 in kindergarten through twelve, that was the size of this place," he said.

Lab Schools not only taught children, they also allowed universities to prepare teachers for their future classrooms through observation, participation and student teaching. They also allowed the university to try out research findings and exemplify modern practices.

"The teachers here were really joint faculty with the university," Corey said. "All the teaching method classes were taught in this building by teachers in the building."

Corey completed his undergraduate degree at Indiana State in chemistry. After working a year in industry, Corey returned to Indiana State for his teaching license. After working in different Vigo County schools, Corey returned to the Lab School in 1967 where he taught gifted and talented math and science in junior high.

"We had a very, very strong program that was by invitation only," he said.

With the opening of other high schools in the area, State High closed in 1978 followed by the junior high in 1991 and the rest of the school in 1992. Corey, who also taught graduate math and science classes at Indiana State, continued his work there. Eventually, he moved to the College of Education where he oversaw student teachers. Corey now teaches long-distance education courses.

"I've always thought the school still exists," Corey said. "It represents a home. It became a home away from home for students."

In July after the completion of an almost $30 million renovation, Corey returned to the building where he started his education.

"I've always thought this was my home," he said. "It's not coming back. It's where I've lived forever and ever."

Corey's father owned a grocery store where the Student Recreation Center now stands and he would walk the short distance to the Lab School. Hilma Weaver taught his kindergarten class.

"She opened this school," he said.

First grade was taught by Helen Price. Third grade brought Bertha Fitzsimmons and fourth grade was taught by Olga Combs. Who taught second grade, Corey doesn't remember.

"I was only there for a few weeks then I was moved to third grade," he said.

But he still recalls many of the other teachers such as Ann Carle for fifth grade, Hallie Smith for sixth grade, Ralph Miller with music while Jim Carr and Paul Wolf led physical education. Flora Smith taught seventh grade math and science while Florise Hunsucker taught junior high social studies.

"She had a daily citizen chart," he recalled about Hunsucker. "If she caught you chewing gum it was automatically minus 10. It didn't matter where she saw you."

Meribeh Clark taught civics and social studies while Gypsy Wilson educated 10th and 11th grade English students.

"She gave me my only F for a grading period," Corey recalled of Wilson. "She got upset with me. Ironically, she gave me an A for the next grading period."

Throughout Corey's time as student then as teacher, what remained the same was the building, which was constructed in 1935 for $1 million as part of the Works Progress Administration.

A walk down a hallway with Corey elicited comments of how the building used to be - lined with lockers, where classes were positioned, and the classroom where he taught biology, which included a greenhouse on the third floor.

"Kids would have little projects they would do," he said as he stood in the greenhouse. He added that teachers would often bring their outdoor plants to spend the winter there.

As Corey sits in his office amid the memories of a life spent in the building, he praises its return to education.

"They've done a remarkable job. They've made it user friendly," he said.

Contact: Noble Corey, Indiana State University, professor of secondary education in curriculum, instruction and media technology, at 812-237-2945 or noble.corey@indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, assistant director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or jennifer.sicking@indstate.edu

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/639287856_tmdBi-L.jpg

Cutline: Noble Corey stands in his classroom's greenhouse when he taught at State High; the former College of Education can be seen in the background. ISU Photo/Kara Berchem

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/639286498_YtP6V-L.jpg

Cutline: Noble Corey looks out of windows in his new office in University Hall, where he attended kindergarten through high school. ISU Photo/Kara Berchem