The elementary school in Heraklia of the Cyclades it does not throb with vitality, children’s voices, games and student wells. In the school there is only one student, Natalia, who is actually the the teacher’s daughter.

This is how mother and daughter go every day five kilometers, on foot most of the time, to go from their home to school, where the two, with different roles, of student and teacher, experience a special and rare daily life.

“The whole year we are alone at school with my daughter. She is the only student I have, as the island has no other children in primary school”, the teacher Katerina Vantaraki points out to the Athenian/Macedonian Agency and confides that even for her, “it is a bit strange, because we go to school, five kilometers away the legs, just so that the two of us can do a lesson in the classroom, we are alone all day and then back home again. We bonded a little more, it’s true, this year,” he says jokingly.

The young teacher was appointed to Heraklia last year and had two children in school. But they grew up, one had to attend high school and so the family moved to Naxos and stayed only with her daughter who completed the sixth year and this year is in the first grade.

“It is difficult for an educator to teach in a one-person school. Last year was the first time I had so few children, one child in first grade and one in sixth grade. You are forced to do different teaching, you do silent teaching in one, lesson in another. But we also found them with the children and their parents. At the same time, I also gave free English lessons to one child, so that he would not miss class, and thus the family benefited as well. But they left for Naxos, because the older child now goes to high school”, he explains.

The island has approx 90 permanent residents. Most are elderly and there are very few young children. As Mrs. Vantaraki clarifies, “in total in Heraklia we have seven children, most of them are two or three years old. In toddlers there are only two children and in elementary school I only have my daughter. I hope we have more children in the future.”

“I have been teaching for twelve years in the Cyclades and the Ionian Islands as a substitute. For the last six years I’ve had my daughter together, it’s just the two of us. Since last year, I’ve been doing my agricultural work in Heraklia and now I’m here permanently”, she says and notes that, “life is not easy at all, but everyone adapts to the conditions. He’s finding his footing.” “Consider that there isn’t even a supermarket, you have to order everything you need to be brought to you from Naxos. We don’t have a pharmacy or anything. I would like my daughter to have more to do, I would like us to live on a bigger island so that the child has options. There are other issues you face on the small islands, because they are closed societies with certain mentalities that do not accept you easily,” he adds.

“Despite the difficulties, I really love life in the countryside and especially on our islands”, underlines Katerina Vantaraki and notes: “in Heraklia we bathed together with Natalia all winter, we enjoyed the island, we went hiking, we followed the paths, everything ,what the island had to offer us, we took it and lived beautiful moments”.