Drama. Adapted by John Dilworth Newman from the novel by Avi.
Cast: 5 to 6m., 6 to 9w., extras possible. A new teacher, the enigmatic "Mrs. I," quickly sets a class of unruly students in order, claiming she began her teaching career as a 14-year-old, teaching secretly in a one-room schoolhouse. When Mrs. I leaves the students alone, they find clues that suggest their teacher has been telling them the truth. The class enacts the story of the "secret school" to see if their teacher could have actually taught at such a young age, replacing the adult teacher who abandoned her class. In the "play within a play," young Ida Bidson teaches her seven pupils so they can advance and she can go on to high school. The county examiner promises to keep the students' secret if they consent to taking rigorous examinations at year's end. Ida endeavors to teach her students well while fulfilling her responsibilities on her family's farm. She encounters some of the same perils adult teachers face, such as a student who defies her, a parent who keeps his student home, and a school board president who refuses to condone her efforts. Ida struggles to uphold her adult role while maintaining her friendship with her peers, including a young man who has taken a romantic interest in her. Ida exhausts herself as she prepares her students and herself for the final test and fears she will be the only one to fail. The play offers an intriguing story of a headstrong girl determined to control her own destiny and of a group of students from another generation learning to accept responsibility for their own education. Unit set. Approximate running time: 75 minutes.