Jim Woster

Jim Woster

Justin McBride, who is the television analyst for the PBR, is a two-time world champion bull rider and a very good announcer. I think he summed up the many ramifications of the COVID-19 shut down in his reply to the question, “How’s it been going?”

“Actually, not too bad, other than the fact that we are helping with the learning from home. It’s a good thing I became a bull rider and not a school teacher. I don’t know how they do it,” he said.

That has probably been the most common theme, especially amongst the many families who are, in fact, helping with their child’s education from the kitchen table. “Lord, please let school open next fall. Please!”

Although the admiration and respect for those who educate our young people may not be made manifest through salaries and frequent praise, based upon most any education conversation the teaching profession is near the top of the list in any coffee table poll involving favorability.

In fact, as we enter the weekend of the birthday of this marvelous nation, history tells us that as quickly as those who settled the country finished their sod-based homes, a place to teach was not far behind.

I’m told by those who teach and have taught that this most noble profession has gotten more difficult, for reasons including the fact that discipline has become much harder to implement. Well, if that is the case, it should come as no surprise if one considers what has been occurring nationwide and across the globe. Without going into debatable specifics, suffice it to say it would appear to the old cattle guy (let’s say old-fashioned cattle guy) respect for those supposedly in charge has been greatly diminished.

Name most any city – let’s begin with Seattle – and it is borderline impossible to determine who is truly in charge. Whether it be in the classroom, a small business or any level of government, to approach any degree of order somebody has to be boss. Heck, that can even apply to production agriculture.

As I think about education, my experiences therein and somebody in charge, I’m reminded of a Saturday night incident at the Ed Sorenson theatre in Chamberlain, South Dakota, in the spring of 1957. Denny Cullen, Mike Clemens and yours truly were seniors, just a few weeks from graduation. We were being more than a little disruptive during the movie. Seniors were expected do that, you know, and perhaps they still are.

Out of nowhere our view of the screen was covered by wide shoulders and a big chest, both being carried by Mr. Elgie B. Coacher, the superintendent of the Chamberlain Public Schools. Without hesitation or saying a word, he wagged his finger in the direction of the exit, and we followed him out. He gave us the Elgie stare for a few seconds and quietly said, “I’ll see you boys in my office Monday morning at 8.”

Very importantly, it made no difference as to where the infraction occurred. You were a student at CHS – you had better be proud that you were and act appropriately. Thankfully, following a strong lecture, we went back to class and went on to graduate.

I will be the first to admit that my views regarding what is going on in the country are somewhat limited by how and where I grew up and where I have spent my life. The phrase “shallow existence” probably helps to explain much of who I am, but I can’t think of much I would change about my 80 years of life. I still find myself siding with law enforcement in a protest-riot situation, and the reason is fairly basic. Who do we call when the number of those in law enforcement is limited?

One view of mine that will never change is that we truly live in the greatest country in the world, with a multitude of freedoms and a treasure chest of opportunities that are the envy of so many.

Be safe, enjoy you families and Happy Birthday, America!

Jim is associate editor of Tri-State Neighbor and also works with the SDSU Alumni Foundation.