Hey, they get summers off, how hard can it be?

    Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.

    One of the high school boys told me she was quitting school as I took my junior high team onto Bailey Field. We kicked off at 5 p.m. and I was taking the middle school boys out as Harold Bailey and Tim Ervin were finishing up varsity practice.

    I don’t remember much about the ball game that afternoon, but I do remember wanting to get to the girl’s home and talk to her and her mother and try to convince her to stay in school.


    We finished the game around 7 p.m. and I walked from the locker room to their home to have a word with them.

    Her mom came to the door just a few seconds after I knocked and said with a smile, “She’ll be in school tomorrow morning.”

    I was taken aback and said, “How did you know I was coming over here to talk about that?”

    She grinned again and said, “You’re a little late Mr. Tucker, Mr. Bailey and Mr. Ervin came a little while ago, there were six teachers here already.”


    She graduated, has a wonderful family, and is a key part of her community today. That’s the power of a small school, a place where kids don’t fall through the cracks.

    If I had my way, and the unlimited funds to pull it off, I’d split schools in half every time they reached 250 kids in high school.

    I know that would mean three high schools in Riverton and two in Lander, but after a lifetime of working at schools, and more importantly, with school-aged children and teenagers, I know it’s the best for both student and teacher.


    I have nothing against Riverton and Lander, they’re great school systems, it’s just that the smaller approach is so much more effective.

    Among Wyoming’s 78 high schools, 55 of them have fewer than 250 students. The bean counters, whether disgruntled locals who see dollar signs instead of the future of our community in the kids, the legislators in Cheyenne, or the bought and paid for corporate senators and representatives in Washington, D.C. will never get it.

    Kids are the future of our community, our county, the state of Wyoming, and the nation as a whole.


    When you get a degree in education, whether primary or secondary, they teach you about curriculum, a few methods classes, and cursory survey courses in school law. Lately, they spend an inordinate amount of time on gender status, political correctness, and mostly, how to be a good follower that doesn’t rock the boat. That doesn’t prepare a 20-something for the classroom.

    It never has and it never will.

    The best course any prospective teacher can take is to work under a professional, established instructor in a hands-on setting during student teaching.

    They don’t tell you about the heartbreaking situations you’ll encounter. They don’t prepare you for kids who don’t get anything to eat at home, who come to school in filthy clothes, or whose parents are barely able to function. These kids must compete with the mainstream, whatever that is, and thrive.

    One morning the home economics teacher at Lusk High School came into my room during my first-period U.S. History class and asked me to step out into the hall. Idy Bramlett was a magnificent teacher who cared for the kids in and out of her classroom. A family was living in the country without indoor plumbing. Yes, even in the 1980s this situation existed.

    The eldest son was Idy’s concern. She asked me to take him to the locker room during my second hour prep period so he could shower and wash his clothes in the athletic office washing machine. I gave him track shorts, and sweats to wear while his laundry finished.

    Initially, I thought he might be embarrassed, but he was thankful for the opportunity. By lunchtime, his clothes were dried, and it was back to a regular school day.

    I never forgot that lesson in taking the extra time for a student in need.

    There were and are still kids from kindergarten to senior year trying to make it in these trying conditions.

    A couple I taught with went the extra mile with a wild upper elementary student who lost both of his parents. He could have ended up in an institution but instead, he was adopted into a loving family, with strong values.

    It wasn’t easy for them. It wasn’t easy for him either, but they worked at it.

    I’m proud to call that young man, and his parents my friends.

    He is a successful businessman with a family of his own and a contributor to his community. What else can you ask for teachers to accomplish?

    A final note comes as a coach. Too many see coaches, whether it’s football, basketball, soccer, track, or wrestling as just grunting, knuckle draggers who only care about wins and losses. That’s the farthest thing from the truth, and as usual, outsiders with no knowledge are too often the loud-mouthed experts.

    I had a talented, but undisciplined young man for four years as his head coach. He was strong-willed, hardheaded, spirited, and at times over-emotional. Yes, he was a kid.

    He lived with his loving grandfather, but the old man died suddenly.

    One night my phone rang late in the evening, and it was my player. He was distraught. He had nowhere to live and didn’t want to leave his high school to move in with distant family.

    The answer wasn’t a teacher, but a husband and wife who were the rock of the community. They took him in, just as they had many others over the years. He thrived, went to college, joined the military, and used his experience to become a successful engineer.

    Dreams do come true, but they arrive with hard work, diligence, a few head-to-head altercations, and challenges that most people will never have to face.

    The next time you hear someone bad-mouthing a teacher, or deriding a coach, remember there is a lot more to the profession than working 8 to 3 every day with summers off.


    Related Posts

    Have a news tip or an awesome photo to share?