Alice Goodson made a career change before college when she changed her plan and studied religious education. After college, she married a man who became a pastor. Shortly into the marriage, she moved to her family’s home on the Pee Dee River in South Carolina. To make a living, Alice became a teacher at Williams High School. From her teaching experience and her attendance at a writing workshop, Alice became an outstanding teacher. She made friends in the community that she knew as home and was able to create a new life for herself. In this new life, she understands why she left the church.
Alice sat on her back porch overlooking the Pee Dee River. She had a bowl of granola cereal, a cup of hot tea and her journal on the table beside her. She immediately began to write. “I had a frightening dream last night. What I dreamed was so real that for a moment I was afraid to open my eyes. My parents were standing within arm’s reach of me. My father, Jesse, had on a heavy jacket that was closely buttoned to his chest. His hair was gray and his complexion was ruddy and filled with wrinkles. My mother had a stern look on her face. She had on a flowing dress that looked as if the wind were blowing it. Both of my parents wanted to tell me that I had acted foolishly when I married a man who acted as if he were a man of God; but proved not to be one.” Alice’s marriage had been a huge mistake. She had married for all the wrong reasons. She had mistakenly expected love, joy and happiness. Her life as the wife of the Pastor of the Barton Episcopal Church in Virginia had been one of the most painful times in her life. The Bishop had assigned David to a monastery in Maine which left Alice alone in Barton. Without any help from the church members she had packed five years of accumulated possessions and moved to the family home on the Pee Dee River. She had forgotten how hot the weather had been during her childhood in South Carolina. What else had she forgotten? Would she be able to create a new life as a teacher? Before going to bed Alice wrote in her journal. “Tomorrow is the first day of school. The weather is too hot to go to school. Yesterday’s storm has stirred the mud in the river to a golden hue but it has done nothing to improve the hot humid weather of September in South Carolina. Besides, this is the first teaching job I have ever had. How will the students behave?” Next morning during the short drive to Williams High School that was located in the small town of Pee Dee, Alice did a mental check of her preparations for the day. Her lesson plans for the first week were clearly outlined in her notebook. The day’s schedule was on the blackboard. The desks were arranged in straight lines and she had taped the seating charts to the podium at the front of the room. The textbooks were on the bookshelf at the back of the room by the window that overlooked the tennis courts. Had she forgotten anything? Alice arrived in the parking lot just in time to make it to her classroom on time. As she was reaching into the back seat to get her bag of books and lesson plans, an attractive young lady came up behind her. “I am Pat Miller”, she said. “Welcome to Williams High School. Is there anything that I can do to help you?” Alice was touched with the friendly voice. “Thank you. I have everything under control now. I am sure there will be many times in the future that I will need help. What is your room number? What do you teach?” “I am in room 109 and I teach world history. Where are you and what do you teach?” “I am in room 127 and I teach English. “Our rooms are not far apart. Come down to my room if you have a problem. We can share lunch together.”
JoAnne DeWitt is a writer and a teacher of writing. Her first publication was in her local newspaper in Darlington, South Carolina, and told the story of her fifth grade class going to Columbia and meeting Governor Strom Thurmond. Since then, she has been published in several newspapers, professional journals, and magazines in her current state of North Carolina. Education is the topic of many of these writings. JoAnne has taught students to write in high school and university. She taught creative writing to the inmates at Butner Federal Prison. A selection of writings by the inmates was published in Inside the Walls of Butner Prison.