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Michael Shoemaker is one of four new teachers at Ocracoke School this year.
Shoemaker, 25, will teach history, replacing Leslie Cole, who is the new school principal.
Hailing from Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Shoemaker most recently taught seventh grade in an inner-city Memphis, Tenn., school.
But last year, he spent his time hitchhiking around the United States, backpacking and hiking, including a large stretch of the Appalachian Trail.
“It was for the sake of adventure and for a story,” he said.
While he mostly got rides from truckers and families on vacation, he did have a few unusual rides.
One was from a state trooper in northern Indiana.
“I held a sign that said, ‘West bound. I promise not to kill you,'” he said with a laugh.
One time, a woman trucker kicked him out on an interstate highway because of differing political views.
Ocracoke School will present a different scenario from his prior classrooms, which sometimes reached 41 students. This year, his smallest class will be seven students and his largest, 11.
Shoemaker has a bachelor’s degree with a double major in history and high school education from Cedarville University, Ohio.
Martha Taylor of Elizabeth City is the new third grade teacher.
Born in Chicago and raised in New Jersey, Taylor most recently taught elementary school in Elizabeth City and Hatteras.
“When I lived in Hatteras, I became enamored of Ocracoke,” she said. “It’s been a life dream to come to the island.”
She has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Florida State University and a master’s degree in elementary reading and literature from Mary Grove College, Detroit.
Taylor also plans on being the new organist for the Ocracoke United Methodist Church.
Jeramy Guillory will be the new fourth-grade teacher. He joins his wife, Jeanie Owens, who taught fourth grade last year and will teach fifth grade this year.
“I’m very familiar with the fourth grade curriculum,” he said. “I’ve been watching Jeanie teach it for two years.”
The couple moved to the island two years ago to fish and live the island life.
A special education teacher, Guillory taught fourth grade in inner city Los Angeles for 15 years and later also in Virginia.
He left teaching to run a real estate construction company and fitness center in Virginia.
In addition to teaching duties, Guillory will help with fitness and weight training for the school athletes in the after-school program. He also organized the multi-state baseball tournaments this summer at the Community Park ballfield.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, he has a bachelor’s degree from Texas State University and a master’s degree in special education from California State University.
Gary Mitchell, longtime front man for Molasses Creek, rejoins the staff to teach industrial arts. Mitchell had been the industrial arts teacher from 1978 to 1992.
Claire Ross, the new third grade teacher last year, will teach kindergarten.