Mary Idylle McKown

Mary Idylle McKown, Exceptional Educator Inducted 2012

  • Miss McKown was born in rural Dallas County in 1898 and lived here most of her 97 years.  Miss McKown was very proud of her family's role in being some of the earliest settlers of Dallas County.  Miss McKown ironically graduated from Buffalo High School twice.  In 1915 when she first graduated from Buffalo High School the school had only a three year curriculum so when a fourth year curriculum was added in the 1916-1917 school year, she returned to school and graduated for a second time.  At the time of her graduation teachers were not required to be college graduates, however, Miss McKown pursued her degree at Springfield Teachers College (now Missouri State University) while she was teaching in one room school houses around the county.  She graduated from college in 1926.  She later received her Master's Degree in Education from the University of Missouri.  Her first teaching job in Dallas County was in 1916-1917 at Chicago-New Liberty School.   She later told friends after her first day of school as a teacher she cried all night and resolved to never teach again.  She went on to teach at other schools in Dallas County including Gammon, Kelly, Long Lane, and Cowden (where she earned $85 per month and taught 68 students in grades one through eight).  Her high school teaching career started in Collins and she later taught high school in Urbana, Willard, Greenwood and Bois D'Arc.  She returned to Buffalo High School in 1937 and taught history, English, psychology and special education.  She was named principal of Buffalo High School in 1945 and served in that position until 1952 when she became the first school librarian.  She retired in 1964, however, she remained very active in the community until her death in 1996.  She is remembered by her students as a kind and caring teacher, principal and librarian who held learning in the highest regard.  She was also known to have a great sense of humor.  One of her students recalled asking Miss McKown why she never married and she joked with the class that she wanted the girls to get married and train their husbands well then she was going to steal them away.  Miss McKown once said, "my greatest pleasure in teaching was to look in the face of a child and see him learn".