Sweeney, Jim: Panama Canal Zone teacher, later DoDDS-Panama teacher: 1972–1999.

The school system in Panama was originally run by the Panama Canal Division of Schools, a branch of the Canal Zone Government. Prior to that, the tiny number of dependent American students attended makeshift schools during the early construction days.

By 1942, Balboa High School had a beautiful tile-roofed campus, a stadium, and a gym. Later, more buildings were added to include a shop, science and ROTC buildings, an auditorium, and a junior college wing, which later reverted back to the high school when the junior college moved to a new location in La Boca at a former Latin American employee dependents’ school.


Polous, Stacey: Lajes AFB, Terceira, Azores: 1978-1982

  • On January 1, 1980, an earthquake struck the island we were on.  It was a beautiful day and many people were outside.  Once the earthquake struck, many Portuguese people lost their lives, but the Americans at Lajes, banded together with their peers and families along with the surviving Portuguese to gather clothes, food and medical supplies.  It was a sad time but everyone joined together in brotherhood and sisterhood to help those in need.
  • Our family needed to get on base, so we began walking as dad was at work that night so he had the car.  The aftershokes were worse.  My mother and I took turns carrying my youngest brother.  On the way, a taxi driver stopped, picked us up and took us to the base.  He refused to take any money from us.  That memory has stayed with us for 40 years.

Larner, Thomas M.: 1954 – 1990

I retired in 1990, but I frequently visit the Oslo American School. OAS will terminate this June as NATO is moving mostly to England and a smaller group will move to Stavanger. There will be a farewell dinner 27 May and I will give a speech, being the oldest long time teacher of over 37 years.

OAS was started up in the fall of 1954. Before that it was privately run by the Embassy. I was a substitute teacher in 1953 while attending the Oslo University and was offered a job in 1954. Two rooms in a hotel and a private home a mile away from the hotel was the best the Embassy could obtain. When the military took over, a former German barracks in Smestad was made available and there was just enough room for eight grades. (more…)

Bruehl, Giulia: 1948 – 1981

I started with the dependent schools in 1948. My first employment was under Mary Palmer at the Hoyt S. Vandenberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden as Head Registrar for all the schools. That included the elementary schools at Hainerberg, Crestview, Camp Lindsay, Aukaum, and Wiesbaden Air Base. All incoming parents with dependent school children processed through me. I checked the student’s paperwork to determine grade placement and the parent’s paper to determine eligibility. If the parents were civilians not connected with the government, I informed them of tuition requirements. (more…)

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