My teaching career began thirty-five years ago in Coolidge, a little Arizona city located midway between Phoenix and Tucson. Before I received the call for an interview and subsequently traveled the desolate 70 mile freeway drive from the Valley, I barely knew of the city's existence.
By day, I taught Biology to freshman at the high school. By night, I taught their mothers.
Coolidge is one of those towns, much like fictional Mayberry, where everyone knows everyone else, and nobody's business is their own. Everyone is connected somehow.
Mrs. Ramirez, who taught Spanish down the hall from me, moonlighted at nearby Central Arizona College as some sort of director in order to supplement her family income. She was working closely that semester with the women in town who were employed by the Head Start program. These ladies needed a science class added to their transcripts in order to continue with their employment. Mrs. Ramirez marched into my science lab between classes and informed me that I was just the person to get the job done. I didn't protest. I was a new teacher - I hadn't learned how to say no yet!
Despite the fact that I had never taught adult learners, and despite the fact that I had just begun teaching high schoolers - the first time with my own kids (student teaching didn't count) - I accepted the challenge! I was green, yes, but I was not easily frightened!...