Previous blog (PROJECT ONE) has had an ‘epilogue added. Pictures will also be added to it. I will keep you posted as project one proceeds. But THIS blog is the one I wanted to write and I do not want to ‘sit on it’ any longer. This is what our people are like…
……….a day in the life of our local school teacher.
It was winter out here (we were doing hard-time in Arizona at the time). Cold. Two feet of snow in most places, as much as three or four in others. She works out here teaching in the two-room school to about twelve (on a full day) students. Grades 1 to 7. Winter rarely finds a full day of attendance. The boat-arrivals can make it but the children of same-island residents have to come by cross-island logging road and it is impassable with more than two feet of snow for the few old, wrecked vehicles on the island.
Because getting to school is such a trek, the kids stay longer on the days they attend. That means they have only a 3 day week. The teacher stays at the ‘teacherage’ for the nights she is here (a small mini-shack of 150 sft about 50 yards from the school). She leaves by her own small 16-foot boat Friday night or Saturday morning to return home to the other island – and she subsequently returns Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning the following week. She travels alone. All weather.
This winter she had a few problems.
On one occasion, she had called her other-island partner ahead of time to ‘suss’ out the road conditions on their home island. Seemed the twenty-mile road (half of it dirt logging road) over there was also snowed under and, of course, the island’s single road plow was busy on the paved roads and would not be getting to the lesser-used and deeper-snowed-in outer logging roads any time soon. The two agreed to make equal efforts to meet up from their respective directions.
That agreement – once made – is cast in stone.
Teacher got in her small boat and proceeded down channel to the community dock on the other island where her car was parked. It was snowing and it was damn cold because she had stayed over the previous night so as to leave with a full day in which to get home. Later after school in the winter is deep dusk – too dark to leave as a rule. She got in her car and pointed it towards the ‘civilized’ end of the logging road from the ‘uncivilized’ end. She didn’t get far. Her partner did the same from the other end but also didn’t get far.
There is no cell phone service on the ‘civilized’ island. Nor, of course, on the uncivilized end. They did not carry walkie-talkies. Both vehicles were stuck in the snow miles from one another. Each knew the other was trekking through the snow alone in the forest. They were committed.
Both left their vehicles and began pushing through the heavy going towards one another following the barely distinguishable clearing-space that was the blanketed logging road. Hours of hiking ensued.
They eventually met up. Both exhausted. Both wet. Both overjoyed to see the other. They had left from their respective places early that morning. They got home at 3:00. Well in excess of six hours of snow-hiking, most of it alone.
Bonus challenge: our teacher is short. Five feet in heels. A three foot snowdrift is almost belly-button high. She was in it thigh-high most of the time. It was somewhat shallower on the road trail but still heavy going. Their schlep was arduous.
City teachers don’t do that.
But she does. And she was at school the next week, on time and ready for action. Bonus: she is also a great teacher. Our local kids do well, stay healthy, stay engaged and learn. It does NOT get any better.
Teaching school is very challenging as you indicate in your current post. In the first few years in teaching staff retention is a problem especially in remote areas. Recently schools were closed in our area because the snow was too deep over multiple layers of black ice thus travel was deemed too dangerous. Do the schools in your school district have snow days? We have had teachers attempting to reach their schools and dying on the treacherous roads. Teacher mostly have a well developed responsibility gene that has them waiting for hours after school looking after a child whose parents for a miriad of reasons were unable to pick-up their child at the appointed pick-up time. Teachers are on salary…no overtime. Some days end at eight o’clock at night after the last parent teacher interview.
A good or a bad teacher is still a human being and most are great to kids. But having a great teacher who is a great human being and who is intrepid and committed despite considerable physical challenges all done while working alone is kinda special. I think so. And so do most of the people out here – with school age children or not. That’s why the Xmas pageant is attended by over 100 people as a rule with maybe only ten or so actual parents of students.
I was a teacher, but never had to really worry about getting to school unless you count traffic blocking the freeways. I always took that into consideration, so had plenty of planning time in the mornings before the kids arrived. Same when I was a principal. When people depend on you, it’s important. – Margy