The Voice of Many Mornings

Lois Preston Cox-Sampson back in the days of Ocean Park’s Shake Shack 

For twenty years, perhaps more, the phone would ring at our house a few minutes after six in the morning.  “I was wondering…” would come the familiar voice, “…if Nyel would like to work today?”  And then Lois Sampson would say whose class needed a substitute and the day would begin in earnest. Yesterday we learned that Lois has died.

Nyel hasn’t been working for several years now but, ironically, he received an email day before yesterday from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction telling him it’s time to renew his Emergency Substitute Certificate.  Despite my incredulous, “You’ve got to be kidding!” response, he was giving the request serious consideration.  We have since learned that the substitute-calling situation has been automated and now, according to the scuttlebutt, the new system is “a mess.”  I’m not sure why except that there are some things that require finesse that no amount of automation can supply.

Lois had that necessary special ‘something’ that allowed her to match up substitutes with teachers and classes so that school days went smoothly for all concerned.  She always seemed to know who would be available to work on a moment’s notice, who might need some lead-time, and who would be the perfect choice for a difficult class.

Lois with granddaughter Amelia, the love of her life

I know this from having watched her work from both ends of the spectrum – as a teacher back in the day and as the substitute’s wife of recent times.  Without Lois to run all the necessary ‘interference,’ I don’t know if credential renewal is still on the table for Nyel.  “Without Lois” is a concept that I simply cannot encompass when I think of the Ocean Beach School District.

I was trying to remember how long I’ve known her and what her jobs with the District were over the years.  My mind is foggy on those details.  Suffice it to say that Lois has always been there.  Cheerful, informative, reassuring – whether on the phone or in person.  We will miss knowing that she is nearby – just a morning phone call away.

One Response to “The Voice of Many Mornings”

  1. I’m sure Lois would be warmed by your rememberance. Yes, no machine can match the human touch.

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