Monday, January 12, 2015

Ocracoke School

The first mention of a school on Ocracoke was in 1785 when school master Henry Garrish was hired to teach young Thomas Wahab.

By the early 1800s a community schoolhouse was built in the vicinity of the Ocracoke Coffee Company. A new schoolhouse was built in the same area in 1825. Sometime before the Civil War there were two community schools on the island. In addition, Sarah Owens Gaskill operated a private school near the lighthouse.

In the late 1800s "Captain Wilson" taught school at the Life Saving Station at Cedar Hammock (near Hatteras Inlet), and a Mr. Manson gave private lessons in the village.

In 1901 the Independent Order of Odd Fellows built a new lodge (it is today the center section of the Island Inn). They met on the second floor, and a "consolidated" public school was held on the ground floor. In 1917 a new schoolhouse was built at the location of the present-day building. 

1917 Schoolhouse

The current school house was built in 1971. It is the smallest pre-K - 12 public school in North Carolina.The photo below shows school secretary Lisa O'Neal Caswell outside during lunch break. Ocracoke School has no cafeteria, so children and staff either bring bag lunches, or go home for lunch.

Ocracoke School, 1971-Present

Ocracoke School has been an essential part of our community for many years. Cooperation between the school staff, parents, and other community members assures that island children consistently achieve lofty goals in academics and sports.

Click here for a recent article about the Ocracoke School. 

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here:


  1. Philip, I have been coming to Ocracoke for 20 years. I have never attended church while visiting. I was wondering what churches are on the island?

    1. The Ocracoke United Methodist Church (on School Road) & the Ocracoke Assembly of God (on Lighthouse Road) hold Sunday morning services. Roman Catholic Mass is celebrated on Friday afternoons at 4:00 pm at the Methodist Church Recreation Hall.

  2. Debbie Leonard10:07 AM

    Philip, I believe that Ocracoke School may not only be the smallest but may be the only general education PK-12 school in North Carolina.