Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 9: Biography – Staff/Personnel
Series 7: Directors


Teacher, First and Second Grades 1953 – 1964
Co-founder & Coordinator, Little School 1963 – ?
Kindergarten Teacher 1964 – ?
Part-time Secretary to Director Burton Rogers 1949 – 1972
Assistant to Director Robin Lambert 1997 – 1999
General Volunteer 1993 – 2000
Interim Director October 1996 – August 1997
Member, Board of Trustees 1973 – 2001,
Honorary Board Member 2001-2016

TAGS: Mildred Mahoney ; education ; Little School ; Head Start ; folk dancing ; interim directors ; Intervention ; Archives ; libraries ; Oral History project ; Milly Mahoney Day ;

Mildred M. Mahoney, known as Milly Mahoney, arrived at Pine Mountain Settlement School in 1953 at the age of 28 to teach in the community elementary school. She taught there until 1964, several years before the School was consolidated in 1971. During that time, she was one of the founders of the “Little School,” which became a model for Harlan County Head Start and kindergarten programs. She was also active in preserving the tradition of folk dancing on the campus. Such a simple description of her responsibilities does not begin to provide the remarkable contributions Milly made to Pine Mountain Settlement School and to the children and families in the Pine Mountain valley.

Known for her competence, strong work ethic, and commitment to the success of the School, Milly was often relied upon to temporarily fill in a position when her talents were needed — and they were many. At various times, she served as secretary to Director Burton Rogers, a teacher, Principal and later Director of the School (1949-1972). She was frequently asked to assist with other administrative duties.

Friends & Neighbors - VI-51 - 1615. Milly Mahoney and Delia Creech.

Friends & Neighbors – VI-51 – 1615. (l-r) Mary Rogers, Milly Mahoney and Delia Creech. [VI_51_friends_neighbors_1615_mod.jpg]

She shared a deep friendship with Burton and Mary Rogers that was enhanced by their shared Quaker faith and their extraordinary commitment to community service.

Mary Rogers, Bill Leach, Alice Cobb, ?,Marion Leach ?, and Milly Mahoney in living room of Big Log, c. 1970s. X_100_workers_2657_mod.jpg

Mary Rogers, Bill Leach, Alice Cobb, ?, and Milly Mahoney in living room of Big Log, c. 1970s. [X_100_workers_2657_mod.jpg]

In 1973 she was elected to the PMSS Board of Trustees, where she again served several roles, including Recording Secretary for the Board’s meetings as well as a leader in several Committees such as the Board’s Planning Committee in the 1970s and the Community Resources and Services Committee in 2000.


Milly Mahoney’s contributions to the education of pre-school children are ground-breaking. Her early work was the precursor of the national Head Start program and when the national program was under development she was invited to consult regarding the program she had started at Pine Mountain. Reporting to Burton Rogers in September of 1963, on her work with her “Little School” project she graciously gives credit to her colleagues while solidly backing her close observations with statistical data when efforts fell short of expectation. It was her careful assessment of the early childhood learning experience that brought her to the attention of the national Head Start planners. She noted in her report:

Pine Mountain Settlement School has always been concerned with opportunity for the children of its area. The present program (as undertaken in 1940) has given priority to enlarging the educational opportunities of all the children in its immediate area by enriching and supplementing the public school program. That effort is now entering its fifteenth year. During that period well-trained, dedicated and hard-working staff members (both PMSS and public school) have used every resource available to contribute to the opportunities for these children. 

Exhibits of their work were arranged outdoors and at Laurel House. Most of their work has been filed in individual folders — a very interesting display, with growth evident in many instances. Although there was every encouragement for the development of skills, the program was completely creative. Children who preferred to spend part or all of the period playing with blocks were allowed to do so. It is my personal feeling that more than any other this period provided “opening” experiences of a type and caliber which could never be provided in our ordinary school set-up.

… Along with these accomplishments, there have been many disappointments and frustrations. With full appreciation of what has been done and of difficulties and limitation which have to be accepted, it often seems that the faculties and efforts which have gone into projects should have netted greater achievement. …. For some time teachers at PM have felt the great handicap borne by many children who entered school unprepared in varying ways for the experience.

While Milly Mahoney many have been discouraged at times, keen observers recognized the important work that she and her staff were doing in the community. For example, Rebecca Caudill, a noted Appalachian author wrote of Milly and her program after a visit to the Little School in 1964

… As I think of the dedication of those teachers to their work, I find myself wishing that every child in the world might have early access to the wisdom, the strength, and the devotion such as these teachers possess. I wish they might have access to the unique teaching skills such as these teachers have developed; to their understanding of children of the ways that children grow mentally and physically, and of the learning process; to their appreciation of personality and of character; to their ability to use in their teaching whatever is at hand; to their enthusiastic cooperation in the carrying out of an educational program; and to their continual striving for individual development on the part of every child. 

She notes especially the leadership Milly gave to the program.

… Milly’s ability to map long-range plans and to inspire those working with her to travel the long, often discouraging, often difficult road to the fullest possible development of each child…I do not expect to see the like of this staff again soon.

Pine Mountain has recently re-instituted Little School on the campus at Pine Mountain under the direction of Dr. Sky Marietta, a Harvard-educated teacher, and wife of the new PMSS Director Geoff Marietta. And with the dedication of the new Little School leader, Sky Marietta, Rebecca Caudill would no doubt be encouraged to write again about the enchantment of educating, the devotion and the genius of bringing forward the “latent abilities” of students and the dedication of volunteers and teachers. She might again say, as she did in 1964, that

…Though it is difficult to estimate the extent of the value of Little School, it is easy to see that the values are real and important and lasting. …. The children attending Pine Mountain Little Schol have a head start on mountain children for whom this luxury is not available. They are wisely prepared for real school. It is not too much to hope and expect that in due time they will help to bring up the average of high school graduates from the mountain counties so that it more nearly approximates the national average. What is of greater importance is that in their tender years they are learning to walk alone toward the goal of integrated, capable, creative personalities in a society where character and ability are greatly needed.

Friends & Neighbors - VI-51 - 1655. Mary Rogers and Milly Mahoney in garden.

Friends & Neighbors – VI-51 – 1655. Mary Rogers and Milly Mahoney in the community garden. [VI_51_friends_neighbors_1655_mod.jpg]


Although she left Pine Mountain Settlement School in the early 1990s, Milly returned in 1993 as a general volunteer to assist Pine Mountain during a particularly difficult time in its history.

When Paul Hayes, the School’s director for ten years, fell ill and died in October 1996, Milly was again called upon to serve as acting (interim) director. After Robin Lambert began as the new director in August 1997, Milly assisted with her transition and provided support to Ms Lambert throughout her two-year directorship.

Since 1997 until her retirement approximately three years later, Milly worked as a full-time volunteer in other positions as well, such as coordinator for the Intervention Program, tutor, manager of the PMSS Archives, and hostess in the West Wind Dormitory. Her valuable assistance with other projects included reorganizing the Pine Mountain library, computerizing the card catalog, and working with the local Oral History project.

After Mildred Mahoney retired to Richmond, Indiana, she continued to provide counsel as a trustee on the Pine Mountain Settlement School Board and later as honorary trustee and secretary emeritus. She also traveled with other friends of Pine Mountain as a good-will ambassador and fund-raiser. 

The School and community celebrated Milly’s contributions by designating May 20, 2001, as Mildred Mahoney Day, and marking it with a community potluck dinner and gospel singing in the Chapel. As described in the Summer 2001 issue of Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School,

Her work, dedication, intelligence, quiet spirit, and genuine love for the School and community have made Milly one of the most beloved individuals associated with Pine Mountain…. Her influence and the example of her life will shine a light our way for years to come.

Milly was born on October 29, 1924, in Indiana to Carl and Edna Mahoney. She graduated from Mentone (Indiana) High School in 1941 and Manchester College (North Manchester, Indiana) in 1945 with a B.S. in Elementary Education and a minor in English. In 1950 she received an M.A. in Social Science from the Department of Education at the University of Chicago.

Before Milly came to Pine Mountain in 1953, she had spent several years teaching first and second grades at various schools in Indiana and serving in the International Voluntary Work Camp Program (sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee) in Philadelphia.

During her years from 1956 through 1964 at Pine Mountain, Milly spent part of that time teaching at other institutions. She worked in the summer of 1956 as an instructor of Reading and Science at Manchester College and part-time instructor of Human Development and Curriculum at University of Kentucky Southeast Community College in Cumberland, Kentucky, in 1963 – 1964.

In 1965, Milly was a staff member of the Head Start Training Programs at University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University and served as a consultant for Harlan County’s Head Start Program.

Milly Mahoney died in Noblesville, Indiana on June 13, 2016, of complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease. That was another battle she would have gladly fought for others in the last years of her life, had she been able to do so. 


Milly Mahoney, June 17, 2014. [P1060015.jpg] Photo, Helen Wykle







Mildred Mahoney


Milly Mahoney, Mildred M. Mahoney




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Mildred M. Mahoney ; Milly Mahoney ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; education ; teachers ; tutors ; students ; community ; elementary school ; Little School ; Head Start ; kindergarten ; folk dancing ; secretaries ; Burton Rogers ; trustees ; volunteers ; Paul Hayes ; directors ; acting directors ; interim directors ; Robin Lambert ; Intervention ; Archives ; West Wind ; library ; card catalog ; Oral History project ; Milly Mahoney Day ; potluck dinners ; gospel singing ; Carl Mahoney ; Edna Mahoney ; Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Big Log ; Manchester College ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Richmond, IN ; Mentone, IN ; North Manchester, IN ; Noblesville, IN ; University of Chicago ; Voluntary Work Camp Program ; American Friends Service Committee ; University of Kentucky ; Southeast Community College ; Eastern Kentucky University ; Chicago, IL ; Philadelphia, PA ; Cumberland, KY ; Richmond, KY ;

Subject LCSH

Mahoney, Mildred, — 1924 – June 13, 2016.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (KY) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Settlement schools — Harlan County — Kentucky.
Rural schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Women — Southern States — History.




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file cabinet ; Series 5: Administration – Board of Trustees ; Series 7: Director’s Files ; Series 9: Staff/Personnel ;




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 5: Administration – Board of Trustees ; Series 7: Director’s Files ; Series 9: Staff/Personnel ;

Coverage Temporal

1924 – 2001

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Richmond, IN ; Mentone, IN ; North Manchester, IN ; Noblesville, IN ; Chicago, IL ; Philadelphia, PA ; Cumberland, KY ; Richmond, KY ;


Any display, publication, or public use must credit Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writing, and administrative papers created by or addressed to Mildred M. Mahoney ; clippings, photographs, publications by or about Mildred M. Mahoney ;




“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Processed By

Special Collections staff 2001; Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated

2001-05-28 hhw ; 2012-07-24 aae ; 2013-11-06 aae ; 2016-06-18 hhw



Curriculum vitae for Mildred M. Mahoney, c. 1965. Series 9: Staff/Personnel. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Archival material.

Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School. (Summer 2001).Series 17: PMSS Publications. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

Staff Directory 1913-present. Series 9: Staff/Personnel. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

U.S. Federal Population Census. (1940): ED 43-9, Image 7. Internet resource.

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