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Rotterdam teacher blends two lives

Area men and women fly with the 109th - Karolyn De Vito

This is the first of a two-part series on members of the 109th Airlift Wing based in Scotia. This week The Spotlight focuses on the home lives of two of its members, George Alston of Delmar and Bradt Primary teacher Karolyn De Vito . Next week we will focus on how they perform their military duties in Greenland.

See Part 2 of Karolyn De Vito's story here

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland - Karolyn De Vito knew she wanted to be a teacher as early as the fourth grade growing up in Melrose.

What she didn't know was she would teach students at both ends of the earth.

De Vito, 34, teaches K-2 physical education at Bradt Primary School in Rotterdam as her full-time job, but she also serves as a master sergeant in the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard. The 109th flies missions around the world with its LC-130 Hercules aircraft, but its primary mission is to support research in the polar regions.

This means that De Vito is usually far away from home a few weeks each year, and sometimes when school is still in session.

"When we go to Greenland, it is usually during the summer so it doesn't affect school," she said, "but Antarctica is another story."

In November 2009, De Vito deployed to Antarctica for 42 days, but decided to take a few friends with her.

"She came in to tell the class she was going away and that she would like to take them with her as Flat Stanleys." Second grade teacher Laurie Dennis said. "They all wanted to go."

Flat Stanley is based on a book that ponders the question of where we could go if we were flat. The students make paper look-a-likes and become two-dimensional. Once they are transformed they can travel via mail or fit almost anywhere.

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