My First Year Teaching

by Marguerite (Fowlow) Martin

After a six-week course at the Memorial College on Parade Street, I set out on my adventures in life. It was the latter part of August 1941, one of the windiest days of the year, when I boarded the SS Sagona at Trinity, Trinity Bay enroute for Western Arm, White Bay. Everything on the ship was tied down and nearly everyone got sick. Mr. Squires, an elderly gentleman from Eastport, sort of took me under his wing. I did not get sick, and I enjoyed watching the goings on. It's a wonder I didn't blow away, for I was a mere 119 pounds and five foot 7 inches.

When I arrived at my destination, I was greeted by a school board member who took me to his house. I was told that this would not be my boarding house for the school year since the logging business was closing down and this boarding house would then be closed as well. Later on, I was accepted into the home of a Mr. and Mrs. Rice and their daughter who treated me like a queen.

The community had only seven or eight families and the small one-room school had pupils from beginners to grade nine. There were one or two grades missing since there were no students in those particular grades at that time. Children were grouped for some subjects and the older ones often helped the younger ones. All in all, the year went well. There were no clergy or religious services there at that time. The school inspector visited once, during the year.

There was a post mistress, Mrs. Hollett, the daughter of my boarding mistress. All the other families were Rices and all of them moved out of Western Arm the following year.

When the coastal boat made the last trip for the year, it was a very trying time for me knowing that no matter what happened, I was there for the winter. I guess my work kept me busy. I had a job to do, and I did it to the best of my ability. I taught quite a number of Saturdays as there was nothing else to do. Early in June I got a telegram from Norman Brown, a teacher from my home of Trinity East. He was teaching at Westport and was going home on the boat within the next two days. Since the next boat would not be leaving until very late June, I had to rush to get ready for the journey home. I was not worried about having my time in, since I taught so many Saturdays. I was ready on time and glad to be going home. When I arrived, all the children were still in school. My Saturday teaching certainly paid off!

At that time, I didn't think I would be teaching for nearly 36 years. During that time, I taught in Western Arm, White Bay for one year and Bell Island for eighteen years and in Paradise for fifteen years. I was Principal of the school on Bell Island for four years and Principal in Paradise for thirteen years. I thoroughly enjoyed my years of teaching.

I did quite a bit of community work during my career as well, like collecting for the lung association, the cancer association, as an officer of the Girl Guides, Junior Achievement, and serving on the altar Guild for the church. In my early retirement I was active in the Retired Teachers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Reprinted with permission from RTANL.