Interview With JonLee Joseph

From the interview with JonLee Joseph of New York, NY conducted by Patience Rogge at the Fort Worden History Center on January 25, 2008.  Ms. Joseph taught English at the Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center from 1966 to 1968.  Here she describes coming to Fort Worden and beginning her teaching career:

“There was a placement center for teaching positions at Western Washington University. I have always loved the ocean, there were two positions on the ocean, one was in Ilwaco and the other was in Port Townsend.  I chose Port Townsend and made an appointment and came up for an interview.  I was given the teaching post and a name of someone who had a house on the beach on Discovery Bay who only wanted to rent to teachers. I was very fortunate to have this house on the north side of Discovery Bay.  There were long steps going down to the beach.  I began my teaching career here and thought it was a pretty ideal situation.  The classes were small, eight, nine maybe 10 students.  They led such structured lives with cottage staff and counselors–24-hour care by guardians, and then school.  What I found about the students at that time was that the girls were generally in for running away from home, and the boys were in for burglary and stealing cars.  They were pretty honest about their lives and about what they thought they wanted and needed.  As a teacher, I was interested in using literature and poetry and ideas. We put out a newsletter that was filled with haiku poetry that I taught them.  I also taught drama.  We did ‘The Monkey’s Paw,’ a play based on a horror story, in the little theater.  School was rather hard, but I was enchanted because some of the students had never read a book in their lives, but under those conditions and at that time, they did.  It was just a revelation to them and to me.  I used a lot of John Steinbeck.  I considered it all triumphal.”

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