By the time that the Jernegan family left on the Roman for the Pacific, the importance of a good education was evident all over America. In villages, towns and cities, schools were appearing, men and women teachers were being hired and children were getting access to reading, writing and arithmetic. Laura's hometown of Edgartown, took public education very seriously. Respect for and pressure on teachers was growing. The Edgartown School Committee believed that their teachers' duties were difficult and important, requiring "true nobility of soul to manage and mould childhood."
Laura's mother, Helen M.Clark later to become Mrs. Jared Jernegan, was a teacher in the town from 1860-61. She knew well the expectations for her children while away at sea. In Edgartown in the mid 1800s there were several separate schools. The Primary Schools, grades K-3, were regarded as the most important. Educators believed that the first mental habits and impressions were formed at this age. Their objective was to prepare children's minds to receive knowledge by cultivating the process of thinking and investigating. They believed the child should be taught to rely as much as possible upon him or herself. Laura's experiences on the Roman would surely provide opportunities to meet that goal.
Martha's Vineyard Museum