By Nahmie George, Health Science Academy Instructor
Having the opportunity to travel with the HSA to the Pine Ridge Reservation was an amazing eye-opening experience for me. While I was at Crazy Horse School, I had the chance to talk with one of the teachers working on the Rez. Mr. Bocmeier is a first year social studies teacher. I asked him what it was like teaching at Crazy Horse. I realized that while many of the struggles he faces are typical of a first-year teacher at any school, Mr. Bocmeier also has some struggles that are unique to his situation. One of the biggest challenges at Crazy Horse is the amount of turnover they have with their teachers. He said the kids struggle with the lack of consistency from year to year and that the kids never develop real strong relationships with the teachers because they know the teachers will soon leave the Rez and go somewhere else. He said he is really torn in his personal life because he wants to help the kids and provide that consistency that is so desperately needed, but at the same time spoke of how emotionally draining it is to teach in such dire conditions. He said he felt guilty as he knew he would not be teaching on the Rez for much longer. In essence, he felt like he was contributing to the problem. I empathized with Mr. Bocmeier as I watched him put his head down after talking about it. As teachers, we often view our students as our own kids. I could feel Mr. Bocmeier’s pain as he talked about leaving his kids. As I was headed back to the motel, I couldn’t help but think about Mr. Bocmeier’s dilemma and I am certain he is not the first teacher to experience this internal conflict. The whole experience made me thankful to be teaching in the La Crosse Schools and made me anxious to get back home to teach my kids.