The School Superintendent's Advice

=== A Short Story by Bob Sutherland ===

The Northern Village of Sandy Bay is at the northern end of provincial highway 135. It is a gravel highway 121 kilometres long. On provincial highway maps it appears to be just a dead end highway with no place to go once you make the trip into Sandy Bay. In reality there are many different roads and trails in and around Sandy Bay that can keep a young teacher busy for a few weekends exploring the area.

I was astonished when during an after school staff meeting our superintendent told the teachers that he did not expect any of us out-of-towners to remain in the community for more than two years. He had just spent the day driving to Sandy Bay from the school board head office in a distant town. The following day he would make the long, lonely trip back to his desk at head office. As far as he was concerned Sandy Bay was a wild, northern, frontier community. He advised us to consider our current jobs as just temporary teaching assignments. We should not be entertaining any thoughts of settling down here.

I was also surprised to discover that the same superintendent had misinformed many of the out-of-towners during their job interviews as to what type of vehicle they might need. Here was a situation where young teachers, possibly fresh out of university, were considering moving to Sandy Bay. Often their initial intention was to spend a year or two living and teaching in the community before contemplating their next career goal. During the hiring process some of the teachers had suggested that they might buy a four wheel drive pickup truck or sports utility vehicle if offered a teaching job in northern Saskatchewan.

"Oh no!" the superintendent said. "I just drive a small car to visit Sandy Bay. You will get along fine using whatever car you have been driving on city streets to attend your university classes."

Some lively discussions took place among the school staff for the next few days following the superintendent's visit. As we discovered the full extent of the advice the superintendent had given various staff members I was prompted to grab my digital camera.

It was a new digital camera that had just arrived by post office mail. I had purchased the camera by telephone order after seeing it advertised on a city store's website. There were no stores anywhere near Sandy Bay where I could have seen and actually held a digital camera in my hands before purchasing it.

Digital cameras were a new invention. As far as the citizens of Sandy Bay were concerned the Internet was also a new invention. A satellite dish had recently been placed on top of the school roof to receive Internet signals. Our communications to the Internet were sent at a much slower speed by telephone line. Our school's Internet connection was slow and buggy but it did provide the students and staff with their first online experiences. We even set up some computers with Internet connections in the school library so that parents and community members could visit the school to learn how to use computers and the Internet.

Two identical digital cameras were ordered from the city store by school staff members. I was the new owner of one of them. As a leading edge Computer Science teacher it seemed only natural that I would be one of the first teachers and citizens of Sandy Bay to buy and own a digital camera.

The following are some photographs I took with my new digital camera of highway 135, the airport road, and the road to the hydro electric power dams in nearby Island Falls.

There is very little traffic in the Sandy Bay area. It would make a great location for someone to learn how to drive. Unfortunately there are no tow trucks within the region so be very carefully when driving not to slide off the road when it is slippery. I will let you be the judge as to what type of vehicle you should buy if you were going to move to this area.