Two Blaine teachers head east
Former girls’ basketball coach and Blaine middle school teachers Patrick Green and fellow teacher Becky Johnson left Blaine last Tuesday for a two-year stint teaching at the American School in Singapore.
Green, who posted a record of 50-2 in his last two years as girls’ head basketball coach, resigned at the end of last season to “follow other pursuits,” he said at the time. He admitted to having had some inquiries from “other high schools and at least one college” about leaving Blaine to coach somewhere else this next year, but he and Johnson, his close friend and Birch Bay Village landlady, were content to stay in Blaine while beginning to look for teaching assignments overseas.
In January they attended a New York job fair where they submitted applications and assumed they would have to wait “like everyone else,” Green said, “especially for Singapore, where people wait sometimes for years. It’s a very nice place to work.”
But two weeks ago, when the superintendent of the American School in Singapore suddenly found himself with an opening for a fifth grade teacher, one of his staff suggested contacting Johnson. “That was Allan Bredy,” said a colleague, Blaine middle school teacher Dan Steelquist, “who used to teach in Bellingham and knew Becky and Patrick were both interested.”
The American School also needed a second middle school teacher who could begin mid-year, and Green qualified. “We got called by the principal on a Friday, and the following Monday were told by the superintendent that if we both could come then we were hired. We were a little stunned at how quickly this came up, but it’s fallen into place as if meant to be. Becky was even able to sell her house,” Green said.
As if to fulfill the old saying about being careful what you wish for since it may come true, the five weeks of summer break the two had left suddenly evaporated. “We made three trips to the dump, two trips to Goodwill and at least half of my stuff is in storage,” said Green, who said he got so tired at one point that he asked Steelquist to drive him to appointments in Bellingham. “I wouldn’t have been safe on the road,” he said.
Neither Green nor Johnson has ever been off the continent, and only briefly outside the U.S. “When I asked them if I should bring any heavy clothes, they just laughed at me,” Green said. Singapore lies almost on the equator and seldom sees daytime temperatures below 90. The two are also leaving their cars behind, and will commute by subway for 35 minutes from their downtown three bedroom condominium.
Green will be team-teaching U.S. history and social studies to eighth graders with former Bellingham teacher, Andy Donohue, beginning in January. School for Johnson begins next Monday, August 16.
She described the teaching situation as almost ideal, “and we’ve been very happy here in Blaine,” she said, “but it’s a good time in life for an adventure like this.” They’ll get a 10 week break in the summer, a little over two hours a day prep time and a number of aides and support staff to do the hum-drum stuff. There’s a computer lab for every three classrooms to share and a cap on class size at 24 students, “though most are smaller, and there’s evidently far fewer class management issues,” Johnson said, “so we can focus on teaching. About half the students are Americans.”
“We wish we had more time to say goodbye,” Green said, “but we’ll be back for a visit next summer.” Both will keep their Blaine e-mail addresses active for some weeks for those who wish to contact them: Patrick Green is at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Johnson at email@example.com.