Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Music Teacher, 1949-1953


Golda Pensol, PMSS teacher. “Music appreciation period in class….” Excerpt from Louisville Courier Journal article by Adele Brandeis, “Pine Mountain Settlement School: A Study in Mountain Progress.” 1951.

Music Teacher, 1949 – 1953

TAGS: Golda Pensol Baker, Golda Pensol, music teachers, Annville Institute High School, Lee’s Junior College, Eastern Kentucky University, Berea College, progressive education, music appreciation, Young People’s Record Club, operettas, puppet shows, Lynch High School band, integrating music with other school subjects

GOLDA PENSOL BAKER: Before Pine Mountain

Golda Pensol was born on January 4, 1925, in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. She was the first of four children born to Andrew D. Pensol and Sadie Mae (Mink) Pensol. As of the 1940 U.S. Census, her father was a stonemason with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) program. 

Golda Pensol attended Annville (Kentucky) Institute High School, then Lee’s Junior College in Hazard, Kentucky, and Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in Richmond. She graduated from EKU with a Bachelor of Science in Education. She continued at EKU, earning a Master of Art and a Rank I in School Administration. She also completed post-graduate studies at Columbia University in New York City. From c. 1943 until 1949, Golda served as a teacher in one-room schools in Rockcastle County, Kentucky, and during that time she worked diligently to improve them.


Golda was sent to PMSS in October 1949 by Berea College, which was supplying temporary assistant teachers to ease overcrowding in schools, a problem at PMSS as well as across the nation due to rapid population growth. After her experience with one-room schools, Golda greatly appreciated the progressive approach to education that Pine Mountain Settlement School (PMSS) was developing.

Golda embraced PMSS’s methods of teaching, integrating music with other units of study at the School. She nurtured her third through fifth grade students’ appreciation of music through records, visiting speakers, field trips, pictures, posters, projects, and a growing library, as well as a puppet show and an operetta presented by the students. The November 1950 issue of Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School, describes Golda’s teaching: 

The fourth and fifth graders of Miss Pensol’s class have been head-over-heels in music since school began. Miss Pensol planned a music appreciation unit which involved everything else — reading, English, spelling, and even arithmetic. As a result of daily listening sessions the children can recognize many different instruments and a variety of compositions. One of the staff children has a subscription to the Young People’s Record Club and these records are used extensively along with records from the school’s symphonic record library — a Carnegie grant.

The class made a trip over the mountain to Harlan in a school bus to visit the music store. There they saw and heard many instruments. …

Preparation of a simple dramatic version of “Hansel and Gretel” has absorbed a good deal of time. After this performance the class wants to give a puppet show based on ‘Peter and the Wolf.’ They are looking forward to the visit of the Lynch High School band which has promised to make the 60-mile round trip to give a concert for the whole school. …

Golda also wrote an undated narrative titled, “Music Appreciation by grades 4-5b. Golda D. Pensol, Teacher,” in which she provides “practices that provide of creativeness and appreciation.” As examples of those practices she describes taking the students to the Cumberland Valley Music Store, a “Peter and the Wolf” puppet show presented by the students at the School’s Christmas party, and the positive effects of playing music as the students worked. She writes about appreciating music in nature: 

The class went on hikes and listened for music in nature as the gurgle of a brook, the wind in the trees, a frog in the marshes, and a bird just outside the window. They saw rhythm and harmony in their environment as they went down to the creek and painted to the tune of nature’s symphony.

In an outline titled “Integrated,” Golda lists the ways in which music can be integrated with other subjects under the headings for Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Language and Spelling, Geography, History, Art, Safety, Physical Education, Dramatics. Under the heading for “Records,” she lists the long-playing records on hand. Under “Guest Assistants,” she lists guest performers, such as a singer from India, players of recorders, the Lynch Band concert, and Richard Chase, “who played the record, a Swiss music box and taught singing games.”

Golda Pensol Baker opened the eyes of her students to musical instruments and the manner in which they were played. And she opened their ears to musical sounds that they may have heard for the first time. Ultimately, she provided her students with an appreciation of music that would enrich their perspective of the world for the rest of their lives.

GOLDA PENSOL BAKER: After Pine Mountain

Golda left Pine Mountain in 1953, having accepted a teaching position with the Barren County and city school systems. She retired from Barren County Schools as Supervisor of Instruction. She had also served as principal of Red Cross Elementary School in Glasgow, Kentucky. After her retirement, Golda taught as an adjunct instructor for Western Kentucky University’s Glasgow campus and Lindsay Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky.


Several months before beginning her employment with Pine Mountain, Golda married Jesse Baker (1918-1985), a teacher, in February 1949. Later in life, she married William Earl Walbert (1906-1970), a grocery store merchant.

According to her obituary, Golda Pensol Baker died at the age of 93 on February 8, 2018, in Glasgow. She was buried in the Ted Mink Family Cemetery in the Sandhill Community of Rockcastle County.

Title  Golda Pensol Baker
Alt. Title  Golda Baker ; Golda Pensol ; Golda D. Pensol ; Mrs. Jesse Baker ; 
Creator Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.
Alt. Creator Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;
Subject Keyword Golda Pensol, Golda Baker, Golda D. Pensol, music teachers, Annville Institute High School, Lee’s Junior College, Eastern Kentucky University, Berea College, progressive education, PMSS Notes, music appreciation, Young People’s Record Club, operettas, puppet shows, Lynch High School band,Cumberland Valley Music Store, music in nature, music education integrated with other subjects, Barren County school system, Red Cross Elementary School, Jesse Baker, William Earl Walbert
Subject LCSH Baker, Golda Pensol, — 1925 – 2018.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Date 2022-11-11 aae
Publisher Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.
Contributor n/a
Type Collections ; text ; image ;
Format Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet.
Source Series 09: BIOGRAPHY 
Language English
Relation Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: BIOGRAPHY.
Coverage Temporal 1925 – 2018
Coverage Spatial Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Rockcastle County, KY ; Hazard, KY ; Richmond, KY ; New York, NY ; Barren County ; Glasgow, KY ; Columbia, KY ; Sandhill, KY ;
Rights Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Donor n/a
Description Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Golda Pensol Baker ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Golda Pensol Baker ;
Acquisition n/d
Citation “[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.
Processed By Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;
Last Updated  
Sources Brandeis, Adele. Pine Mountain Settlement School: A Study in Mountain Progress.The Louisville-Courier-Journal, 1951, page 2. Series 09: BIOGRAPHY. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. 

FAMILYSEARCH Family Tree. (accessed 11 November 2022).

“Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 November 2022), Golda Pensol Walbert, ; Burial, Livingston, Rockcastle, Kentucky, United States of America, Ted Mink Cemetery; citing record ID 187190810, Find a Grave,

“Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797-1954,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 November 2022), citing multiple county clerks, county courts, and historical societies, Kentucky.

“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 November 2022), Earl Walbert in household of James D Walbert, Glasgow, Barren, Kentucky, United States; NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002).

“United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 November 2022), Kentucky > Rockcastle > Magisterial District 2 > 102-5 Magisterial District 2 outside Livingston Town E of East Fork of Skegg Creek and N of Skegg Creek, Pinehill (part) …: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012. 

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GOLDA PENSOL BAKER School News and Music Instruction