Date of Award


Degree Name

Curriculum and Instruction


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

L. Eric Lassiter

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Campbell

Third Advisor

Linda Spatig

Fourth Advisor

Arijit Sen


Edward Lee and Lulu McClain gave the gift of a new high school to the rural Appalachian community of Greenfield, Ohio, in 1915. Inspired in part by John Dewey’s Progressive theories of education, the school became the center of the community, both literally and figuratively, providing the best, most modern education for its students. The school was particularly unique in its focus on the arts, with its spaces carefully crafted and developed; its halls and classrooms filled with over 200 pieces of classic and original art, including murals, sculpture, and other works; and its curriculum inspired by art-based ideas of personal development. This study offers an overview of these Progressive ideals and their connections to vernacular architecture, tradition and culture across school and community. It considers the school’s history, the story of its building—including those involved with the planning of the physical space and the curriculum that grew out of that planning—as well as oral histories of alumni, which include a successful campaign to save the school from consolidation based on the school’s unique history, art, and deep connection to community. Analysis includes a time span of over 100 years, based on the review of original archived personal letters, here compared through time with collected oral histories. “Art as curriculum” is introduced as a concept for further research and analysis.

Findings: Many alumni of Edward Lee McClain High School (ELMS) share a deep respect and gratitude for the school and the progressive education they received there, though they may not have recognized it as such when they were students. Some attribute their values and successes to the education they received there. The school and the community are closely tied together, and deeply rooted traditions are passed from one generation to the next. The habitus of ELMHS affected the students profoundly and continues to affect alumni today


Edward Lee McClain High School (Greenfield, Ohio)

Dewey, John, 1859-1952 -- Influence.

Art in education.