The history of Western Oregon University cannot be captured in text and physical artifact alone. The oral stories that tell of a time past--stories that come about through conversation--contribute to the thread that weaves WOU together.
This exhibit represents a small sampling of interviews carried out by the Education 312: Teachers, Schools, and Society class. Each student interviewed one or two Western Oregon University graduates who attended this institution. Each interview lasted between 20 and 60 minutes. We have selected a number of short representative audio clips for your listening pleasure. Please scroll down the window and click on the play buttons to listen to our samples.
Even though the name of the university has changed a number of times throughout its 150-year history, one thing does remain the same--teachers and graduates of this institution continue to speak highly of their experience here.Teacher portrait
My dad was a teacher, and that’s the only thing I ever wanted to do. Nothing else ever crossed my mind. Everyday that I didn’t have school, and he did, I would go to school with him, and teach P.E. with him, he’d come home and do report cards, and I would help him fill them out, and it’s just something that I have always, always wanted to do.
I can vaguely remember when I first started, I didn’t know if I could teach kids anything. It took me maybe five or six years before it dawned on me that I was actually helping some of them.
I’d say I’d do it again. I think I’ve helped a lot of kids. I’d recommend anyone do it.
When I was teaching, for the most part, teachers were looked upon as someone doing good. Now, it just breaks my heart--you hear people complaining, and putting them down, and there’s not a harder job in the world, I’ll tell you that, especially elementary and primary. It’s lots of work, but there are lots of rewards.
And one has to realize, people such as, where I came from, I was raised in a country school, I attended a two-room country school. I was a little farm-boy when I came here. So the world was opened to me by many people. And, so I am ever indebted to people at this institution . . . people who believed in me. And that is a great, great key to educating the person, opening the world to them.
I graduated high school in the spring of 33, and I went down to Monmouth, and graduated in the fall of 35. The most important thing that that was for, was for our Saturday night social hour. That’s where the school dances were held. . . . Sometimes they were very special, and other times it was just every Saturday night. And we’d go out there, my friends and I, and we’d think, oh gosh, will anybody dance with us. There were so many girls, and so few boys, it was during the depression.
Emeritus Faculty / Reseacher
It seemed like education was a way to make a difference. So after a sabbatical that took me to London, I worked in an institute there, in early human development, came back, and made the transfer up here full time, and it took off from there. And that got me started in this world, at least informally with Western. Because the institute at that time was a part of the Chancellor’s office, . . . and later on we got transferred here.
I went to high school at central, here locally, and then I proceeded to go to Western, to play basketball, and my first year was the 92 season, and I played four years there. The last two years we won the championship, and my sophomore year we took second place. And I chose to go there, just because it was local, and I liked their style of play. It was what I was used to in high school, and so coach Terry recruited me to go there, and I thought that would be a good fit.
I absolutely love it, once again, you have to go back to the kids. The kids are amazing. I love the kids. . . . how far they have come. And I have to go back to how far I have come. . . . It’s just the nature of it. If you want to do good for the kids, if you want to be a good teacher, and be better . . . Almost every day, I can say I feel so overwhelmed, times I could just cry, or scream, when I just don’t know what to do, but then I say, wait a minute, and I think about the kids.
Certainly you hope, that on a daily basis, you get to see that ah-ha in a child’s eyes. That, "I’ve got it." You can see progress over time, which is really rewarding, and then, one of the best experiences I’ve had in education is, I worked in an elementary setting for years, and then I was asked by the superintendent to go to the high school, and be an administrator at the high school. And that was really an a-typical experience, because I knew at least a third of the population of the high school, I’d had as elementary school students. So for me, it was hugely entertaining to be able to observe them again, in a three-year period of time and watch that maturation. And then to see how we really are typecast early on. They’re just bigger kids you know. It was great fun. And it gave me great insights
I lived in Portland, but I had an Aunt who lived down here, and I always wanted to come to OCE, She lived here in town, and so I lived with her the first term. Then I moved in to Todd Hall, and lived there for the next few years. Then I lived in the cottage my senior year. You were supposed to be good, but . . .
What made you want to become a teacher?
My older brother was a teacher, and I admired him, so I wanted to become a teacher too.
My first year was terrible. I had seven grades, and seven youngsters, in a little country school. The building was an old one. It had a pot-bellied stove in the back of the room, the water bucket would sit on a bench, and everybody drank out of the same pitcher, and there was a light that hung in the middle of the ceiling.
My dad was a teacher. I grew up around the school. I just kind of knew I wanted to do it. I’m the baseball coach. So I really like coaching.
The biggest thing is when you see somebody, like I had this kid last year, that flunked everything, and then this year, all of a sudden something clicked, and he is passing all his classes, he wants to get involved in activities, and stuff like that. So that the turn-around, like he felt motivated turn around.
So how did you get over to Asia?
Airplane, ya, Delta.... Actually, I started talking to one of my colleague’s brothers, who was teaching language over there, and I was being manipulated into a directorship of a program that I started.... and I started investigating teaching over in Korea, and I wanted to go there to study another martial art. .....so I started looking at teaching English in a language academe, and it just kind of snowballed, something I couldn’t stop. I just did it. I got there, and I said, “oh no, what have I done.” But it ended up being the greatest experience. I stayed a little more than a year, training, and teaching. I had a great time.
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