Have You Ever Slept on Sheep's Wool? : And Other Stories from the Reservation by Gail L. Soderquist by Gail L. Soderquist - Read Online

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Have You Ever Slept on Sheep's Wool? - Gail L. Soderquist

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Not too long ago I pulled a yellow, folded, tee-shirt out of the very back of my bottom dresser drawer. I stared at it for many minutes.

On the front of it were the words, 7th Grade Teacher - Piñon Middle School. On the back were many names and words in black and red magic marker.

Mrs. Soderquist, you’ve been very cool. Keep up your teachings and good luck. Michelle.

Sodteach! You’ve been a kool teacher. Later, Leland.

Ms. Soderquist, good luck. Keep teaching. Roman.

Have a nice summer and good luck next year with the crazy kids. Paula.

The names included Faith, Colleen, Vince, Deanna, Audrey, Cornelius, Jerome, and many others. I slowly moved my hands over the shirt, over the names, and closed my eyes to try and remember the faces. It seemed like such a long time ago that these kids were part of my everyday life, and that I had lived for awhile in the land of the Diné.

Almost ten years ago I embarked on an adventure that changed my life. I didn’t realize it so much at the time, but in retrospect I see that it changed the way I look at the world, other cultures, and at people and life in general.

I had been working at a school in Flagstaff, AZ and although I enjoyed it, I yearned to be teaching my own classes full time. So when I learned of a teaching position open on the nearby Navajo reservation, I applied for it. It would only be for six months, the rest of the school year, so I thought the commute would not be so bad. I thought I would be able to put up with whatever came my way.

The interview with the principal was done by phone.

So you think you want to teach science and math? he asked.

I answered, YES.

Little did I know what I was getting myself into!

Commuting to the reservation or the Rez, as it is commonly called, was not a piece of cake by any means. It was a challenge and sometimes hardship for my family. I was extremely thankful to them for putting up with the wild schedule for six months.

I would leave Flagstaff late Sunday afternoons with my freshly laundered clothes and supplies, and return back home on Friday evenings. Usually the weather and roads cooperated, but not always.

This book of memories is dedicated to the special teachers in Piñon who helped me survive my adventure.

Also to my former students, even though they will never read this. I was always proud of them and loved them for the individuals that they were.

For my parents Roger and Edna, I give thanks. They instilled in me God’s love for ALL people, no matter how different they might be, and the importance of truly caring for them.

Most importantly,