Taking the scenic route

Teachers with hours-long commute say CHS is worth the drive


Academic Intervention Specialist Megan Claus commutes from Mill Creek.

Sierra Williams, Staff Reporter

Lugging yourself out of bed an hour earlier than necessary only to sit in a car for more than an hour is not how most people want to spend their mornings, but students may be surprised by the number of teachers who go this extra mile just to teach at Cleveland.

“I live in Snohomish County. It takes on average one hour to get to work in the morning,” said Michael Shaw, head of Cleveland’s science department.

Not only does the commute require extra time in the morning, but with rush hour tra c a er school, at least 30 more minutes are added onto the commute.

“I live in Mill Creek, just south of Everett,” said Academic Intervention Specialist Megan Claus. “Without traffic in the morning it takes 37 minutes, but after work probably around an hour and a half.”

Claus lived in Rainier Beach, but her family moved because her husband works in Everett.

Many teachers know what they were signing up for when applying for positions and the commute did not deter them from taking jobs at Cleveland.

“I grew up in Los Angeles. There’s rarely a time when I wasn’t sitting in traffic, so in a way I am acclimated to longer commutes,” said Shaw.

Engineering teacher Doug Hartley has a two hour commute from Bainbridge Island.

Engineering teacher Doug Hartley has been taking the two hour commute from his home on Bainbridge Island for 29 years, but doesn’t view the trek as a burden.

“It just starts becoming a part of your day,” Hartley said.

So why don’t these teachers move to a school that is closer to where they live?

“No schools in Lynnwood or Everett match the programs that Cleveland has,” said Claus

The commute doesn’t have a negative effect on Shaw. The long drive is a tradeoff for having the job he wants.

“I’ve never looked into getting a different teaching job at a closer school,” Shaw said. “I wouldn’t be able to teach the classes I teach now at any other school.”

One problem that arises when talking about a long commute is the money spent on gas.

Shaw’s drives roughly 40 miles every day to Cleveland in a Jeep Wrangler that averages 17 miles per gallon.

“It’s definitely expensive and beats up a car,” said Shaw.

As the cost of living in Seattle keeps increasing and teacher salaries stay the same, both students and teachers are being forced to look for affordable housing outside of city limits.

“It is definitely hard, but my family makes it work,” said Claus. “Even just having a baby, I can still drop him o and get home in time to tuck him in.”

Claus said the reward of being able to work at Cleveland is worth the burden.