By Gabriel Recinos Tirado
Many students complain that getting to school is a hassle, due to having to wake up early, wait for the bus, and sit in long bus rides around the city. What most students don’t realize is that they aren’t the only ones who are doing a lot of traveling to get to school. A number of teachers wake up early, fighting through traffic, trying to get to school on time. Despite these difficulties though, these teachers are willing to make the journey every day because of their love for the Galileo community. Here are a few of their stories:
Mr. Keough, math teacher
For the last 4 years, Athletic Director and math teacher, Mr. Keough, has been commuting from East Oakland (15 miles) to Galileo every morning. He used to live in the Mission district, and when he was teaching at John O’Connell it was only a 15 minute walk to go to work. Now though, every morning Mr. Keough wakes up around 6:00 am, in order to get ready and drop his wife off at her job on his way to school. “My commute is 30 min to an hour coming to school. Sometimes longer if there’s an accident. Going home is hit or miss. It can be under 30 minutes if I leave early or really late, but once or twice in four years it’s taken almost three hours to get home from school.”
The worst part of commuting for Mr. Keough’s is the traffic. He said, “It’s tough not letting rude people cut in front of me and getting up early and it’s frustrating and feels like I’m wasting part of my life sitting in traffic.”
Mr. Keough moved from San Francisco to East Oakland because of the cost of living. He said, “My wife and I decided to buy a house and it was more affordable to move to the East Bay.” Although it takes him a lot longer now to get to work he believes it’s completely worth it. He said, “Galileo is a great place to work. Also, as traffic gets worse, I can choose to commute with Bart and muni/bike/walk/scooter. We’re also considering carpooling with a third person to save time.”
Mr. Keough believes he can keep commuting like this indefinitely because he loves being at Galileo, although he hates the traffic and has given consideration to changing school, but not a very serious consideration.
Ms. Juan, math teacher
Waking up at about 5:00 am, Algebra 1 & 2 teacher, Ms. Juan, has a 30 minutes drive from San Mateo (20 miles) to Galileo for the past 5 years. Waking up at 5:00 am is a necessity for Ms. Juan because she not only has to get herself ready for school, but also has to make sure her daughter is awake by 6:15 so Ms. Juan can make it to Galileo around 7:00.
Originally living in the Mission district, Ms. Juan has never considered changing school to one closer to her house. She said, “I love the students and staff at Gal! I used to live in the Mission, but we decided to move to a bigger place when we had a baby, and I was already working at Gal at the time so I continued working here.”
One reason Ms. Juan gets to school so early is so she can find parking. She said, “the staff parking lots get full very fast especially since the city took away some of our parking spots on Francisco Street.”
Although finding parking at school is an issue for Ms. Juan, the traffic going home from school is the worst part as the traffic can get really bad on Highway 101 towards where she lives and can take up to 2-3 hours for her to get home sometimes. For now, though, Ms. Juan plans to keep commuting like this because she doesn’t mind it for now since she avoids the really congested times.
Ms. King, science teacher
Driving to Bart every day for the past 5 years, Biology and Marine Biology teacher Ms. King is out of the house by 5:40 am after having to wake up around 4:20 am to get her stuff ready and prepare her daughter Sophia’s lunch for school. Ms. King makes an hour and a half commute from Contra Costa (25 miles) to Galileo by driving from her home to the Bart, then taking the Bart from Richmond to the city then taking the bus in the city to get to school at about 6:50-6:55.
Ms. King had a few reasons why she chose to move. She said, “At some point, we decided to move out to the East Bay because we liked the school systems out there and we also had some friends that lured us out there. We knew we wanted Sophia to be in a good school system. A combination of friends and a good school system is what made us move out there.“
Ms. King ends up losing about 3 hours of her day because of the commute back and forth. What is worse, if the Bart breaks down, then she would have to find another means of transportation. Another drawback of all the time Ms. King spends commuting is she spends less time with her daughter. Her commute is worse going back home from school because the later she leaves school to go home, the more packed the Bart trains become.
Despite the difficulties, Ms. King will continue on with this commute because she feels an allegiance to the school. She said, “Leaving has always been a consideration but I feel a loyalty to Galileo, I feel that there is great collegiality at Galileo that other school doesn’t have. It’s a really strong bond that we have at Galileo and I feel apart of that and can’t leave. We have a great administration and secretary and teachers. That has made it difficult for me to just up and leave for another school.”