I started subbing in 1971 for Provo School District. I didn’t even HAVE a car, so the schools I could go to were limited to the ones located around campus. Because I was going to school full time, I could only take 2-3 hour blocks–great for teachers who needed to go to the doctor but didn’t want to take the entire day off.
My first long term sub job was at Rock canyon School, teaching kinder. I rode my bike up the hill (snow or not) three days a week. No idea what was wrong with the teacher, because I was so busy trying to keep my own head above water. (And yes, it WAS uphill both ways! Up from campus, then thrillingly down the hill, around a corner and there you were. Reverse on the way home. AND IT WAS FREEZING most of the year.)
I’ve been teaching ever since. A five year stint at Point of the Mountain PRISON, in Utah (I had a car AND another full time teaching job by then) at Spanish Fork Junior High (the prior teacher had been locked in the room and the outside wall and door was set on fire), A short stint with Governor Scott Mathison as an Early Childhood Education Consultant (I set up a traveling book/tape and toy library for in-home daycare providers), time teaching in Payson, Utah, then out to California to teach third grade at Sunnyside School, then ten years in the inner city for LAUSD (K, K-1 and 1, plus subbing all over the city during my year-round scheduled vacations), then a move to Tulare County and Terra Bella School (K, 1,2,4 and of course, a LOT of subbing when we went year round), then a move to Lemoore School District (3 and 1 and THE WORST PLACE I EVER TAUGHT, IMO), then a ten year stint teaching at Corcoran State Prison, which was a Level 4, super Max. (Loved it, despite the riots, the shankings, the stabbings, the injuries and the never ending fighting). So add up all of that time and it’s 44 years. One day I just up and decided I was done. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t entertaining, it wasn’t exciting enough plus I didn’t WANT to commute two hours a day any more to spend my time with psychopaths who hated every breathe I took, every moment I was alive and every thought I had in my head.
There is that in prison. It is not a feel good place, with thousands of men in cages….where they ought to be. But it does get wearing after a while.) I had been in several riots, seen people stabbed, shanked, beat down (by each other), had chairs and what all thrown willy- nilly in my classroom, been assaulted more than once, had both of my rotator cuffs and shoulders shredded….so all is not fun and games at a Level 4 prison. There is a large measure of hostility and anger bubbling up all day long and after a while, it is enough. By and large, I liked it. I just got tired of random people hating me enough all day long.
Lucky me, I have wonderful close friends from all of my past assignments. I know people who never manage to make that connection; they keep their professional/scholastic/personal lives separate and that’s not something I can manage to do. My whole life is my whole life. Naturally, I don’t don’t let my whole messy life leak out willy-nilly, but I do like to know if my workmates have children/a dog/or anything else that is interesting. I’m always so happy to see my old friends and see what life has dealt them. And I still keep in touch with my college room mates and friends. I was lucky and I recognize that not everyone was.
Yesterday, I drove back to my hometown for a monthly luncheon we have with the “Chicks of the “70’s”. I had so much fun at my reunion, I decided, along with my friend, Judy, to get together every month with whomever wants to join us. (I’ve known Judy since I was five.) No matter who shows up, I am happy for that reconnection. It shows me once again, that high school was ONLY four years of my life. It didn’t define me, but is shaped me as did every other year of my life.
It shaped the others, too….and you know what? Our stories may have been different 44 years ago, but we are very much the same now. I’m the first one who retired. Paul and I both worked in the prison (I went out to the range that morning to qualify…three shots to center mass, one head shot and then that was it. Hardly worth the time to drive out there and load my weapon, lol.) Pam, Pam and Lawana all ended up teaching in different areas. Judy writes for the local paper; Cari worked at a bank….just everyday stories. I think if you picked up ANY group of ten people who once spent time together, you’d get pretty much the same mix.
Today, I’m headed to Visalia to visit a former colleague who has Alzheimer’s. Do I care if he knows who I am? Nope. What I care about is that I care enough to make the trip. He was wonderfully kind to me for many years and dragged Lisi thru college math. So I am lucky to be about to see him, probably more for me than for him.