Las Vegas Sun

December 22, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: EDUCATION

Call it a bona fide Las Vegas miracle. New Clark County School District teacher Vicki Droscher got her life back.

As reported by the Sun on Aug. 19, Droscher, 49, loaded up a 17-foot U-Haul truck and drove 13 hours from her hometown of Redding, Calif., to Sunset Station. She came out the morning of July 17 to discover the truck had been stolen. A similar fate befell new teacher Holly Shaffer a month later, again at Sunset Station.

Droscher held little hope of ever recovering her personal possessions, and police were even less optimistic.

But at 2 p.m. Thursday, Droscher got a call from U-Haul, telling her the truck had been found near downtown Las Vegas, the ignition stripped. After the damaged lock was cut off the cargo door, Droscher found all of her furniture, family photographs and a collection of books intended for her first classroom library.

"Six hours ago, I was dealing with picking up the pieces, and now I am looking forward to unpacking boxes, hanging pictures and appreciating a second chance in life to enjoy my memories," Droscher wrote in an e-mail to the Sun.

The news that Droscher and Shaffer's belongings were stolen spread to Kentucky, where it caught the attention of Terri McDaniel, a special-education teacher for 33 years.

McDaniel had her own story to share. She said that she and her husband stopped in Las Vegas on Aug. 2 on their way home from vacationing in California. They locked up their Toyota Highlander SUV and checked in to the Super 8 Motel on Boulder Highway near the Longhorn Casino.

In the morning, they discovered their vehicle's window had been smashed. Their luggage, souvenirs and a plastic crate full of family photos were gone.

No one seemed particularly interested in solving the crime, including Metro Police, McDaniel said.

"They told us, 'There's nothing we can do for you,' " McDaniel said.

"We've traveled 29 years and nothing like this ever happened to us," she added. "It leaves a kind of a bad taste in your mouth. I liked Las Vegas. Now I don't know whether I trust to come back again and spend the night."

Maybe there's a market for a new bumper sticker: "Teacher's Car: Please Don't Steal."

Welcoming Clark County's newest teachers at a luncheon Monday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid spoke fondly of the educators who helped shape his own life, including the late Gov. Mike O'Callaghan.

In an interview with the Sun, Reid recalled his first impressions of the man who would later serve two terms as Nevada's governor in the 1970s.

Reid, 16, was class president and a varsity athlete at Basic High School. Students were buzzing about a new teacher - O'Callaghan. But O'Callaghan's impressive physical dimensions, Korean War heroism and no-nonsense attitude failed to impress Reid's crowd.

"I thought I was a big shot," Reid said.

Then one day, a school bully beat up a smaller, younger student.

O'Callaghan called the bully a coward and challenged him to a boxing match. At the local boys club that evening, Reid and his pals watched their teacher don gloves, climb into the ring and promptly flatten his opponent.

"I would be exaggerating if I say it took 20 seconds," said Reid, who served as lieutenant governor under O'Callaghan. "From then on, he was our man."

O'Callaghan, the Las Vegas Sun's longtime executive editor, died in 2004.

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