Where were you born? I am a third generation Astorian. My parents and my grandparents were born in Astoria, Oregon – we are Scandinavian.
Did you grow up in Astoria? I lived in Astoria until about 3rd grade, then we moved to a rural town named Knappa. Knappa is about 20 miles east of Astoria.
Did you live on a farm? We had a little farm with animals, horses, chickens, pigs and goats.
Why did your parents move to the farm? I think they just wanted to move out of town and it was closer to my Dad’s work.
Where did your Dad work? My Dad (Bill Eastland) worked at the Wauna Mill as a chemist. He worked there 40 years before retiring. He is a wonderful man.
Can you tell us about your Dad? My Mother left the family when I was eleven years old, so Dad raised us by himself. He took on the challenge of raising three teenage children.
What was life like for three teenagers and a Dad? It was crazy, but it was wonderful. This was back in the 70’s and it was odd to have your Dad be the Mother too.
How old were your siblings when your Mom left? Thirteen and sixteen. I am the youngest.
Do you have older brothers? I had an older brother who passed away when I was 18.
When Mom left did you take on more chores? There were three of us living at home at the time as my oldest sister had moved away already. Here we were on a farm and none of us knew how to cook, clean, or do anything – we just figured it out.
Did you handle the hardship well? It was the school of hard knocks; the best kind of life I could ever ask for. Nowadays kids get upset if things are not the way they want them to be and my childhood was completely the opposite. It was struggle after struggle, yet was wonderful! I have great stories.
Instead of tearing the family apart, did challenges bring you together? Oh yes, for sure. Then my brother left and it just became my sister, father and me. I have great memories. My dad is a wonderful person – he took good care of us.
Where did you go to elementary school? I went to Hilda Lahti Elementary in Knappa, Oregon. The school is K-8. Kindergarten is at one end of the building and middle school is at the other end. Across the parking lot is high school, grades 9-12.
When did you graduate from high school? Knappa High School, class of ‘85.
What did you do after high school? I received some scholarships and headed off to Monmouth Oregon. I went to the Oregon College of Education for 2 years and double majored in PE and Elementary Ed.
So you knew right away you wanted to be a PE teacher? Yes
How did you know? I was into year around athletics – it was my passion. I was a state level hurdler and high jumper. My highest high jump in track was 5 feet 1 inch.
What happened after your first two years of school? I married my high school sweetheart and moved to Longview.
Did you continue your education? I attended Portland State University and got my bachelor’s degree in exercise science. I actually became the first in the history of my family to get a college degree.
What did you do after earning your bachelor’s degree? I started in a corporate wellness job, but was traveling and didn’t like it. I ended up having kids and stayed home for 10 years.
How many kids do you have? Two girls ages 25 and 27.
You stayed at home for 10 years and raised the girls – then what? I became bored. My friend told me, “If you go back to school I will too.” We applied to WSU Vancouver and became teachers together.
Who is the friend? Elizabeth Roffler. Her husband Jim Roffler used to be the basketball coach at LCC.
Did you earn a teaching degree? Yes, I earned a master’s in teaching elementary and that came with my PE endorsement.
Did you get a PE job after graduating college? No, I taught kindergarten, then 1st, 3rd and 4th grades for 5 years in Kalama until a PE teacher retired. I taught PE for 7 years for a total of 12 years in Kalama.
What changed after seven years as a PE teacher? Kalama displaced me and put me back in a classroom. I was miserable. I am a good classroom teacher, but I was not happy.
Was it hard to go back to the classroom? My whole career was in that gym. I had built a beautiful program from nothing. The kids didn’t play dodge ball, they didn’t play bomb a buddy and all these games that are not healthy. My principal at the time said “Darcy, if I would have had you as a PE teacher, I think my life would have been different.”
How long were you back in the classroom? I taught in the classroom for a half a year because I had kids in college.
Did something change in your life about this time? Yes, we ended up raising my sisters two kids. I was eight months into my first year of teaching when my brother-in-law passed away. The kids flew in the next morning and moved in with us.
How many kids did you have at home and what ages were they? We had 9, 10, 11, and 13 year-old kids at home.
How did you juggle a career and four kids? I don’t want to think about it. I wonder how we survived.
What was it like raising two kids of your own and your sister’s children too? You just make it work. Those kiddos have good lives now.
You seem like a resilient individual, is that right? Yes, it kind of happens when you have to be very tough from a young age.
Is resilience a generational thing? It was a different generation. You have to remember what I was doing at 5 years’ old – I was all over Astoria on a bike! I mean those were different times than they are now.
Growing up did you play outside all day? Yes, we went outside and were not allowed back in the house until the lights came on at dark. It was just a different childhood than what today’s kids get to experience.
What do you like to do for fun? Snowmobiling and traveling to tropical islands! We also like to go see the Seahawks play.
Are you a big Seahawks fan? I am a huge Seahawks fan.
Do you go to Seahawk games? Yes, we travel to the games. We’ve been to New York. This year we went to a game in Arizona. We have been season ticket holders for about 15 years. We are all in.
Do you get dressed up to go to games? Oh, yeah! Half my closet is Seahawks gear.
Have you met any Seahawk players? We met Richard Sherman and Jermain Kearse. We gave Jermaine Kearse a ride our Seahawk limo.
Do you travel to other cities for Seahawk games? One year went to a game in Seattle in a limo with our bags packed. There were six of us who went to the game then traveled from the game straight through to Vegas and went to the Arizona game the following Sunday.
Who is your favorite NFL player? Russell Wilson, I really like him!
What do you like about Russell Wilson? I like everything that he stands for. He is a really good guy. I love seeing him go to the Children’s Hospital on Tuesday’s. He does a lot for the kids.
What do you do when it’s not football season? We count the days until it is! We put it on the schedule and we cannot wait until the pre-season starts.
What is your favorite food? Probably pizza – isn’t pizza everybody’s favorite?
What is your favorite color? Seahawk colors.
How did you get to Longview Public Schools? After teaching in Kalama and Battle Ground, the PE job at St Helens opened up and I was very blessed to get it.
What makes for a great PE teacher? I would say universally it is someone who puts the whole child first.
What do PE teachers help kids learn? Skill development and sportsmanship. But what comes before that learning is relationships and social and emotional growth. I can’t do anything out here until those kids know they are loved and respected by me.
Did you decorate your own office? Yes, I decorated this office for the kids – this is not for me. The office is for when they need a place to work on self-regulation. Some kids don’t know how to explain their feelings and need to be somewhere else to do that.
How has PE changed since you were a kid? When I was a kid it was more sports units. Now we have a curriculum and standards we are trying to achieve. We teach the whole child, so we are teaching nutrition through movement, which is cool.
Do you teach about fitness? We are teaching fitness components. They are doing goal setting; they have a “fit folio”.
What is a fit folio? A fit folio is a document with their fitness plan in it.
What is the best part about your job as a PE teacher? The very best part is just getting to spend time with beautiful little souls that love you no matter what. It is easy to make a positive impact on their life. They are very forgiving and very loving.
Is PE better if kids are having fun? PE doesn’t work if you take it too seriously. I say it’s not the Olympics. Pick up the bowling pin and let’s get going. Right?
Should kids get more time for PE? There used to be. I used to teach 3 days a week in my other district and thought that was perfect. I always think there should be more but we are fortunate to have what we have – and a district that supports it.
How does the district support PE? Our district gives us money every year to buy equipment for our kids. I try to be the best steward of that money that I can. Some districts do not give any money to the PE department for equipment.
Is St Helens a relationship-based school? Yes, students need quality adults to love them unconditionally and that is what I feel like we have in this building, an entire building full of adults who love these kids unconditionally no matter what.
Why did you become a teacher? I became a teacher because of the teachers that changed my life in a positive way. Great teachers are changing this world and this building is full of them.
Since you see kids each year, do you see growth? I get the benefit of seeing them year after year. I was telling Stephanie Teel, about a student whom two years ago she struggled, but now she has made so much growth on a personal level.
Do you love being a teacher? I love being a teacher. I became a teacher because I had good teachers, you know, when I talked a little bit about my childhood and the struggles and you say well you had a quality father and that made a huge difference and a close knit family. That is not the whole picture. The whole picture is I had great teachers.
Who were some of those teachers? Mr. Buddy, Mr. Chase, Arnie Swan, I had these teachers that were just so wonderful they changed my life, they really did.
Have you ever reached out to your childhood teachers? I called my kindergarten teacher when I graduated and told her, “You changed my life”. She said, “No,” and started crying.