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    JES Counselor Rita Crouch discusses her life in Alaska as part of the Jacksboro Lions Club meeting Sept. 25. Photo/Trevor M. Wyatt

New Jacksboro Elementary School counselor speaks at Lions Club

Jacksboro Elementary School’s new counselor spoke to the Jacksboro Lions Club on Wednesday, Sept. 25, sharing her experiences as a resident in Alaska.

Rita Crouch grew up in Dallas and met her husband in Carrollton. After they married they went and visited Alaska for a few years, but had to move back down to Texas when family emergencies arose.

“We got married and visited Alaska, and we fell in love with it,” Crouch said. “But we had some elder people in our families that we wanted to be with. Well, we ended up having our son and decided we wanted to raise him in the country so we took him and raised him right outside of Newcastle.”

Crouch said she spent 25 years in Newcastle, becoming an educator and teaching English in Graham, Olney and Bryson. Teaching was good for her, but she had always had one dream, going back to when she was a little girl.

“I used to see adults who were struggling and could not take care of themselves, so I said when I got older I would live in an RV, paint the words ‘counseling’ on it and help people that needed help.”

That spirit stayed with her throughout her time teaching and when she started applying for new jobs, she was shocked to get a call for a counseling position in Alaska.

“I remember just thinking ‘wow, I can’t believe I get to go back.’ Our son was in college so we were only going to see him once or twice a year anyway, and I was excited to get to go back.”

Crouch and her husband moved up to Utqiagvik, Alaska, otherwise known as Barrow. The cold, frigid nights during the winter were rough, but she found solace in her job, helping the native Alaskan people. Although she struggled with the language, she found that people opened up to her once they realized she was trying to help.

“The native cultures in Alaska are very peaceful, open and accepting of others. They still have a lot of needs and challenges, because they’re stuck between two cultures: their ancient culture and modern culture.”

For more on this story, see the Wednesday, October 2 edition of the Jacksboro Herald-Gazette.

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