Then & Now, Jan. 2, 2019

My future at being a rancher had no future. Off to college I went to study to become a teacher. In three years, I graduated from the University of Wyoming with a BA degree in 1955. I was hired to teach world history at Star Valley High in Afton. I was not hired because I had a past teacher talent to teach World History, I was hired because the administration wanted to diversify the teaching staff. I was a Catholic who did not drink coffee, smoke, or drink alcohol.

When I arrived in Afton, I rented room from Hazel Coffee who drank coffee. I even discovered that there was a bar for folks who drove seventy miles from Jackson to have a drink, Hazel would send me to buy her coffee. As a first-year teacher, I was dependent on the textbook that the school provided. In an early chapter both Homo Neanderthals and Homo Erectus were discussed. I was soon told that these two gentlemen did not exist. For many first-year teachers success is not easy, It was one of my better years. My core belief then and now – “all students who came into my class came with a desire to learn. My job as a teacher is not to drive them away.” I am not sure that the students felt the same way. Toward the end of the year when I opened my desk drawer I was surprised by a live mouse. 

Sixty years later, I received a letter from a former student, Carolyn Wright, telling me that I was her favorite teacher. I feel the same way about the Star Valley High class of 1958 who celebrated their 60th reunion this year. 

Mr. John Wasserburger

PO Box 14

Capitola, CA 95010-0014