Shirley Schue, Interviewed by Christine Scales, November 5, 2015
Location of Interview: Cherry Valley, New York
Shirley Schue was born in 1965 in a small town in Virginia to two parents who were educators. After graduating from Virginia Tech, she moved to Florida and later to Cherry Valley, New York. In this story, she talks about what it was like to have a mother who taught.
SS: My father was a principal and my mother was a teacher, so community was important to them. They knew everyone, and they taught a lot of the families. My dad was such a good role model and so was my mom, but especially my father. He made family really, really important. He was our Sunday school teacher, he was the person that we knew when he came home we all had dinner together as a family and then we would all either play games or go outside and dad would throw a ball or we would go for a walk or ride our bikes and my dad would be there.
My mom some too, but my mom worked and came home and she was tired. She did the cooking, but my dad did the cleaning. My dad did a lot of things maybe not so many other husbands did. They both worked though so that we could have vacations and do things. Most moms when I was growing up did not work, so it was a little unusual to have my mom work, but I guess that probably influenced me too, having both parents work.
My parents instilled a very strong work ethic, and education was really important, especially since they were both teachers. Both of my parents were the first to go to college in their families. My dad was one of two children, my mom was one of eleven, but my dad’s parents were immigrants from Greece. My grandmother never got an education, not even elementary school, so education was really important. So I guess all three of us knew when we were little that we were going to grow up and go to college.
CS: What was it like having a mom that worked when a lot of other moms you knew didn’t work at the time?
SS: Well, I think it made a little more stress sometimes. I knew other kids’ moms, and they didn’t really know my mom, they knew my father. The other thing was that my mother didn’t drive, so my father did the driving. So when we went to Girl Scouts or somewhere, my dad was the one [taking us], where most of my friends it was their mother driving them or their mother taking them. So I knew most of the other kids’ mothers and they did not know mine very well, and they all knew my dad.
I guess it just made it a little different, but I appreciated her working. My dad would say things like “This is why we can go on a family vacation this summer, because your mom works.” And my mother always wanted to be a teacher as a small child. Like I said, she was one of eleven and the first one to go to college, so being a teacher was important to her, and she loved it. She taught 32 years.