Some educators still waiting for new jobs
RAF DAWS HILL — Duke Eidt and Thomas Phelps consider themselves fortunate.
Doug Rehak, on the other hand, was just hoping not to end up on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
The three London Central High School teachers find themselves on opposing sides of the employment breach created after Department of Defense Dependents Schools officials announced the school’s closure at the end of this school year.
While displaced students are preparing for life after DODDS, which for many includes placement at coveted private schools, the future of affected educators is far less certain.
“We’ve basically been told that one way or another we’ll have a job,” said Rehak, 49, who teaches English. “We just don’t know where. And that can be tough.”
Eidt and Phelps are among 16 London Central teachers who received new teaching positions during DODDS’ first hiring wave in February, according to principal Theresa Barba.
Eidt, 40, will teach social studies at Alconbury High School next year, and Phelps, 60, will transfer to Lakenheath High School to teach fine arts.
While their colleagues sweat over possible involuntary moves to Japan, the Azores or even Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Eidt and Phelps can search for homes within a day’s drive.
“It’s tough to imagine how lucky we got,” Eidt said. “If your credentials met their credentials you were asked — no, you were directed — to your next school.”
Thirty-one other London Central educators, however, had to wait until early March to learn their fate. And even then, 13 teachers and administrators, including Barba, still await placement.
Rehak was in the second round of hirings, and learned his future post would, in fact, be in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean at Lajes Field, Azores. The base is about 900 miles from Lisbon, Portugal.
Math teacher Brent Church, 37, of Portland, Ore., was one of the London Central staff left off the first and second list of transfers. He’s studied Japanese and visited the island nation, and hopes fate will intervene to send his family to Japan.
Church said he upped his odds by returning to the United States last summer to acquire teaching certifications in biology, general science and other math courses.
“There were conversations around the water cooler last year that got everyone ready for this possibility,” Church said. “We knew we had to get ourselves ready for what is basically another hiring process. A lot of teachers got more certifications but, really, that is just part of being a teacher.”
Church, like several other educators Stars and Stripes interviewed, said teachers in employment limbo have retained their professionalism for the sake of the students.
“Some of the veteran teachers have closed down four or five schools, so this is nothing new,” he said. “They’ve really helped keep everyone focused on the students.”
Even with the fresh job offers, though, teachers still have concerns.
Rehak had heart surgery several years ago, done by British doctors. The procedure was free under the country’s National Health Service. He wonders what will happen if he needs medical expertise in another country.
“There are a lot of benefits to being in England that we don’t know if we’ll get at our next school,” he said. “I have my insurance still, of course, but you never know how that will all work out.”