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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Striking House

No crafting, creating or blogging has been done for the past two weeks. Last week was one of the longest of my life. It was awful and now it is over.
My husband and I both teach. I teach middle school two blocks away from home. My kids go to the elementary school behind my building. Our campus also houses an alternative high school and the district office. Over the past year we have been working without a contract. Without going into a lot of details we voted to strike beginning last Monday.
The weeks leading up to the strike were gut wrenching. I hated the uncertainty for my family, my students and the community. Last Sunday we had a slice of hope as the school board, and our union, met in a last ditch effort. We had a vigil at a nearby park. I went to bed with negotiations still going on. I woke up at 5:45 to a text that read, "We are striking".
Since teachers weren't allowed on campus I knew there would be a need for restrooms. I decided to open our house as the potty house. A stream of people started coming in at seven fifteen. I made coffee, put out some food and got the house ready. All day long it rained. My daughter became the "coat dryer". She would ask people for their coats as they came in and would run them down to the dyer. People came, sat down for a few minutes and left. The weather was awful and people were tired that first day. The second day came and it was the same. Late in the afternoon we were told the school board would not negotiate again until the following Tuesday. Hearts sank and people were weary. The days blended together and hours ticked by slowly. Wednesday and Thursday all schools in our district were divided between "my campus" and the high school campus. More people learned about the potty house. I can't even count how many people came to use our facilities. My table was covered with food for the stikers. There were times when there was a line four deep for BOTH of the bathrooms we opened.
My emotions were everywhere. On one hand I was thankful I could open our home to everyone, but on the other hand I felt guilty for not "walking the line" with my co-workers. I was always dry and warm. They were wet and miserable.
My children were stellar. They were up early and used their manners, for the most part, with the teachers walking in and out of their house.
While it was hard there were some wonderful things that happened this week as well. My daughter's teacher woke her up one morning. She was so happy! "No one else in my class can say Mrs.Nguyen woke them up." I was able to talk to so many people from around our school district. Tough times bring out the best in people and we were able to bond. My son's teacher posed for a picture "napping" on his bed. My daughter's Kindergarten teacher posed under her crown. There was a lot of laughter and camaraderie. My neighbors were wonderful and patient with the stikers. They brought food for them and allowed them to park on the street. It made me even more grateful for our little street.
I have grand intentions of writing a book called, "The Striking House". I have so many snapshots in my mind.
 I am thankful our home became home to many last week. Friday the school board met informally with the union (we had been asking for this all year) without mediators and lawyers. In the wee hours of Saturday morning they came to an agreement. The strike was over.


  1. As one of those who had the joy of using the potty house, thank you. You provided an amazing and much needed service for our school family. Having a place to go made walking the line bearable. So thank you, all 6 of you (yes, even the dogs!) for opening your home so graciously.

  2. This is so fabulously written and you should write a book. It sounds like a lot of good happened from this horrible event. I wish you all well and hope for a civil and positive homecoming for all the teachers in Reynolds School District. See ya Wednesday!

  3. I'm so glad your strike is over and that you found so much good in a bad situation! ~ Maureen

  4. I am grateful you were so generous and opened your house to all of us. We are truly blessed to have such a kindhearted friend.