Three days after landing in the village, I had to do a quick turn-around and fly back to King Salmon for our teacher inservice. Much like our first flight out to the village, the flight back to King Salmon was unpredictable. We were told the day that we'd be leaving, but the airline had no exact time to give us, and instructed us just to "call back the day of your flight." So, at 8:30am on the morning of our flight I called and asked. We were told that we'd be flying out of the village around 2:30pm. Lo and behold, at noon our school cook (who also works at the airport) came zooming up on his Honda to tell us the plane was on the way. Me, with a half-packed bag, then had to rush to the airport feeling unprepared.
The flight to King Salmon went well, and it was nice to get to go to "town" for a couple of days (King Salmon has a decently stocked store and a couple of restaurants). The first three days of training were only for those teachers who were new to the district. The daytime part of the training was fairly typical, with the exception being our "village safety" portion that dealt with wildlife interactions. The nighttime portion was very different though. Our superintendent and a few other administrators taught us about subsistence fishing and we set a net on the beach at low tide. Then, a few hours later (during high tide) we came back and collected the net. They taught us how to fillet the fish we caught in the net, and later we'd cook them up for dinner.
We also got to stay at this great little lodge in town, where all of the new teachers could get together and bond in the evenings. It was really nice to get to form bonds with some of the other new teachers, all of whom will share the school and village experiences we will be collecting in the coming months.
On the third day, they flew us out to Katmai Lodge, which is a very remote wilderness lodge on the Alagnak River. This portion of our training included the whole staff and lasted three days. It was, by far, the best teacher inservice I've ever attended. Our days were spent doing some typical workshop-type sessions, but we spent 75% of our time working in small groups to plan our yearly schedule and work with curriculum. It was super productive and helpful. Then, in the evenings we were free to enjoy the lodge to its fullest. We could get massages, take a steam in the sauna, go on a wildlife viewing adventure, have a bonfire, or (my personal favorite) take a guided fly fishing tour.
Fourteen of the female teachers, including myself, went out one night on a five-hour guided tour. It was a complete blast! We caught a ton of fish, which we could choose to cook up right there on the river and eat, or take back to the lodge and have it prepared to take home with us. I ended up bringing home six BIG fillets for Cody and I, which are currently hanging out in our deep freeze. We also got some free wildlife viewing in on our trip. We saw a ton of bears, moose, eagles, and there was even a wolf hiding on the riverbank. It was the experience of a lifetime, without a doubt.
Inservice was a hugely beneficial experience in many ways. We got invaluable time to meet as individual sites and plan out our year, we learned many ins and outs of new curriculum programs, and we bonded as a whole-district staff, which is important in such isolated places. I'm very excited to see what the year brings, because I'm feeling ridiculously good about my district choice at the moment.
Your turn...Have you ever been to a cool staff inservice/meeting?
Currently listening to... Big Parade - The Lumineers