All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

By Linda Nidiffer

I have had different jobs over the years.  I haven’t always been a teacher.  I worked for a lawyer.  I was a waitress.  I worked in a factory where they wanted me to quit school and work for them forever.  I thanked them kindly and said if the teaching thing didn’t work out I would be back.  There were other jobs but who cares?  They were jobs to get me where I wanted to go: teaching.  I love to teach especially in nontraditional classrooms with nontraditional pedagogy.  In other words, let me do it my way and nobody cries! Well, they actually let me do that for awhile.

Here’s what I learned from those jobs.  Just because I worked in a lawyer’s office I was not entitled to give legal advice.  Even though I had been a waitress in several different restaurants I do not know how to run a successful one.  While working in a factory and learning how to do all of the jobs from soldering to inspecting and even telling research and design where they could improve the product, I know diddly squat about how to run a manufacturing plant.

I think many people make the mistake of thinking that just because they went to school they can run one.  I taught for 30 years and I know for sure that I couldn’t run one.  One year our principal had a heart attack and basically the teachers held the school together for a semester.  One teacher was “put in charge” for all the paper work and meetings but the rest of us pitched in where we could.  I wrote the monthly newsletter that went home to the parents and proofread anything else that Mr. B. sent out to the public because he couldn’t write a cohesive sentence.

Now I am not much of a horsewoman but I have ridden a few times.  Most of the time my horses had leather reins but once in Costa Rica the reins were nothing more thanrope!  I know so little about riding that when we went on a trail ride in Costa Rica I put the best student riders at the head and foot of the column of our group and I was in the middle.  My instructions to those students were, “Do your best to get us all back in one piece.”  They did a great job of telling us what to do as we faced each challenge on that mountainous trip.  

So here is my problem for this week.  If I can trust a few middle schoolers to guide me and 20 of their friends up and down a treacherous mountain path why can’t Uncle Joe trust highly trained horsemen to do their job? Is Uncle Joe a skilled rider?  Does he know anything about the different types of reins a rider can use?  Has he seen a horse and rider in action?  If not how can he judge their effectiveness?  I was lucky in my work.  My bosses always had my back.