Julie Rhodes Sumner took up the challenge to locate Sandra Stricklen, a former teacher who retired from Dora High School after twenty three years (she taught for a total of 32 years). When Julie found Ms. Stricklen, she discovered that she was in fact on the internet, but also On The Road a great deal too.
Since the initial interview on September 4th, Sandra has been traveling around the world. Below is the latest note from her that was sent on her last day in Australia:
Hi again from Sydney, ready to head to LA tomorrow and on home on the 23rd. Ayers Rock was awesome--didn't climb it--the aqborigines discourage climbing because it is sacred to them.
The Olga, really huge, strange shaped rock formation equally impressive--did walk a mile and back to the Olgas Gorge--grreat pictures. Saw it all at sunset and again at sunrise--got up at 3:30 am to get ready to go. Cairns, Kuranda, and Great Barrier Reef all fabulous. Last day in Cairns, we went hot air ballooning. If I can learn to download my 200+ digital pictures and how to email them, I'll let you know--some great shots of the reef from underwater and from the plane leaving Cairns. We have done it all (that can be done in 2 weeks). Tonight we took a sunset cruise of Sydney harbor, and would you believe there was a full moon. Of course, being with Margaret, it was beautiful but not very romantic. We have to leave the hotel at 6:45 am tomorrow to head home--14 1/2 hours to LA. We're staying overnight to rest up to head on home. Hope all is well with all of you--more later. Much love, etc. SS
As I read the Dora High School.com Alumni Update on September 2, I noticed that there was a "search" going on for several of the retired teachers from our great Alma Mater. As I read down the list" Ms. Stricklen wasn't one of the retired teacher's on the list. So, knowing Rick & Jilda Watson all my life (they live next door to my parents), I immediately sent Rick a note about Ms. Stricklen and he suggested that I try and find Ms. Stricklen and ask her if she would mind doing an interview with you for the website? My immediate thought was that of a flash back to Mr. Potts giving me an assignment for "Inside Dora High!". So, I happily accepted Rick's proposed idea, and thus, began my search for the one and only Sandra V. Stricklen! I knew that she once lived in Cordova, so, that was my first "lead" in my search for the sweet teacher, who does believe that she was a tree in a past life!! (you've just gotta' love someone who is that open-minded!) So, I got the 411 on an SV Stricklen in Cordova, and called the number and an automated answering machine picked up and I left a message for her to call me back, if in fact that was the Ms. Stricklen I knew!
Around 4:30 the same afternoon, my telephone rings, and it is the "infamous" Sandra Stricklen! I was so happy to hear from her, and she was very gracious in letting me interview her for the website. I believe her exact words went like this, "ask me anything you want to know!". Since she and I haven't really been in touch over the years, we of course had to do some catching up on all the latest about both our lives.
Ms. Stricklen in 2002 - Photo taken by Julie Rhodes
That took quite a while! Then we began the "interview". Here is how the Q&A went with Ms. Stricklen....
Q. What or who gave you the inspiration to become a teacher?
A. "When I was a child, I would play school with all my friends, me being the teacher,
of course, and also, I loved to read from a very early age".
Q. How long were you a teacher?
A. "I taught a total of 32 years, I began in Tuscaloosa, went from there to Huntsville,
and finally settled at Dora, where I taught for 23 years".
Q. What were your biggest challenges as a teacher?
A. "Motivating reluctant students, who really had no interest in learning, and doing
everything I could to 'make the student' have the desire to learn".
Q. What were your greatest rewards as a teacher?
A. "That's easy, the students who were the reluctant ones coming back to me years
later and thanking me for encouraging them and taking the time to pass on the
gift of 'wanting to learn'".
Q. Seeing so many changes in our schools and in our children over the years and the
violence seen so often happening in schools around the country, what do you feel is
the real cause of this epidemic?
A. "What has changed is 'Pop Culture'. There is so little encouragement and
motivation given to our children outside of school, by the time these kid's
begin High School, there is so much disrespect for their peers, and most of all
for the teacher's".
"Teaching starts at home, the motivation, the encouragement, all begins before children ever start to school. Parent's really need to heavily encourage their children, making learning a fun and exciting adventure! That is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!"
Well said, I want to go back to school and learn more,,,,right now!!!
Q. Ok, we know you retired a little more than a year ago, what have you been up to?
A. "I walk every morning, and go to the gym everyday! And I've been catching up on my traveling as well."
Q. Of course, we all know you love to travel, tell us where the road has taken you?
A. "I've been to New York twice since the tragedy occurred last September, I have
been to Thailand, Hawaii, Alaska and New Hampshire, where my youngest son
and his wife reside. And next month, I'm leaving for a trip to Australia! I'm already
booked for a Safari next summer and after that a tour of Eastern Europe".
That was the end of our tele-interview basically, and I enjoyed every minute of it! Thank you so much Ms. Stricklen, not just for giving me your time for the interview, but for devoting so many years to DHS. And for "motivating & encouraging" so many of us! And, have fun on your upcoming Australian adventure, I know you will!!