Catalina substitute rejects ‘hero’ label, saves student

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Substitute teacher Lindsay Moss rushed to aid a choking student last week. Photo by Kristy Throndson

She’s only 28, and every morning her day begins at 4 a.m. Lindsey Moss cleans up, drives to the dock and grabs the early boat to Catalina Island so that she can be in Avalon when the bell rings to begin the school day.

She’s only a substitute teacher, but Moss has been bitten by the Catalina love bug, even if her current assignment ends at the end of the Avalon school year.

Although she’s a substitute, Moss is teaching Earth and life sciences, and her dream is to one day teach American history, civics and social sciences.

But she knows that day will come.

She thinks in profound terms and using imagery to create mind movies for students, including the example of the brown egg and the white egg.

Holding them both up, she said, it is clear that they are different on the outside. Once you break them and look inside, they, like we, are all the same.

For now, she’s enjoying her time on Catalina Island.

“Even when you have a very rough day,” she says, “you get back to the boat and you see the amazing coast, the beautiful blue water and you remember how fortunate you are.”

Moss believes teaching will allow her to one-day make a profound impression on a few students.

Before she became a teacher, Moss once worked at Disneyland, where she said the resources were nearly limitless. “We could make magic,” she said.

Once she received her degree from Cal State Long Beach and her teaching credential from Cal State Dominguez Hills, Moss was on a new path where the results would hopefully be even more magical.

“Everyone remembers their favorite teacher. They remember her name, what grade they were in and what they learned from that teacher that impacted their lives,” said Moss.

“As a teacher, I can still make magic, only deeper and more profound,”

Two weeks ago, during teacher appreciation week, Moss perhaps has already made such an impact.

She noticed a 13-year-old female student gasping for air.

She wasn’t sure, but her instincts told her something was not right.

“I got up, walked over to her. She started gagging. ‘Are you OK,’ she asked the girl? Moss noticed her struggling for air. As it got progressively worse, Moss jumped into action, performing a Heimlich maneuver on the student, dislodging a piece of candy that had been stuck in the young girl’s windpipe.

Witnesses have confirmed the incident and the parents of the girl, who attends Fifth-grade at Avalon, rewarded her with a large bouquet of roses for possibly saving their daughter’s life.

Although the school and witnesses confirmed the incident, she rejects the hero label, saying “it’s just what teacher’s do.”

Moss said she recently had the opportunity to take a field trip into the interior of the island with her Sevent-grade students.

The trip was sponsored by the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy.

“It was breathtaking,” as the class rode through and hiked a small portion of the Trans Catalina Trail. The experience drove her affection for the island even deeper.

Honestly, Moss is so excited about Catalina Island that she is hoping that somehow, she will get a new assignment on the island.

The position for which she was substituting has been filled and, as of now, her term will finish at the end of the school year unless a full time, or another part-time position becomes available.

For now, however, she is content to get up at 4 a.m. and to return at 6 p.m. every day, making the daily channel crossing trek with a group of ‘overtown’ teachers who teach at Avalon School. “It is a rewarding experience,” says Moss.

Although her fate on Catalina is uncertain, she has already experienced nature’s beauty and had a measurable impact on one little girl who will perhaps always remember the teacher that so unselfishly helped her along the way.

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