Showing posts from October, 2016

October Inservice

The third week of October was a short week of school throughout our district. Students and teachers attended on Monday, with a half-day on Tuesday.  Tuesday afternoon, all of the teachers were scheduled to fly out of their villages and to our district's "hub" in King Salmon. Mellisa and I were all set to fly out of the village on Tuesday, but, as with everything in the bush, the weather had other plans.  By lunchtime the winds were howling and our first mini-snowstorm of the season was happening.  I felt certain that we'd be stuck in the village overnight.  Imagine my surprise when I got a call from Lake Clark Air to tell me their pilot was only ten minutes away, which meant we had five to grab our bags and go.

The pilot picked us up and shuttled us to Port Heiden, another village about 70 miles away.  Our landing in Port Heiden was the roughest part of the trip - by far. We dipped sharply as we approached the runway, rocked by a strong wind, and then proceeded to fi…

A Day in the Life of an Alaska Bush Teacher

::6:30am:: My alarm goes off around this time each day.  The second it goes off the dogs assume it's time to play, so I don't get to lounge around for long. After walking and feeding the pups, I make myself a smoothie.  In the past, I've always been a cereal person, but milk is scarce out here so I've made the switch to drinking a Shakeology shake for breakfast.  

::8:00am:: After finishing up my morning routine I head to the school sometime between 7:45-8:00am.  Cody and I make the long trek (approximately 30 steps) from our front door to the school.  It's almost completely dark when we walk to work now because sunrise isn't until after 9:00am.  Students can arrive at school anytime between 8:00-8:30am.  Cody holds open gym for the 30mins before school starts to give the kids a chance to wake up and get in a little physical activity. 

I use the thirty minutes before school to get ready for the day.  I teach four skill levels, which is the equivalent of teaching…

Our House in the Bush

"Do you live in an igloo?" This, and other questions pertaining to housing, is one of the most common questions I encounter when people find out where I live. They always seem a bit disappointed when I tell them that I do not, in fact, live in an igloo. We actually live in a fairly normal house, although it does look a bit like a Morton farm building from the outside.

The house itself is very large, with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  It is, without a doubt, the largest place that Cody and I have rented, and while we don't really need the space it is nice to have. Our rental rate, which is decided by our landlord - the school district - is quite low.  We only pay $625/month, and that includes all utilities. 

In traditional Alaskan-style, when you enter our home you walk into our arctic entryway (similar to a mudroom in the lower 48). This is where our standing deep freeze is, as well as where we keep all of our shoes and outdoor gear.  It's actually a very large room, …

Berry Picking and Akutaq

On Friday, we piled all twelve students enrolled at Pilot Point School into a truck and drove out to a section of open land near the airport.  The drive took mere minutes, but from the looks on the faces of the students, this was a grand adventure.  Upon pulling up at our destination, the students threw themselves out of the truck and took off into the tundra. Coats thrown to the side and berry-picking bags streaming behind them as they ran.

Later that night we would host a community potluck at the school, and we'd decided to pick berries and make akutaq (pronounced like uh-goo-duck) as a treat to share with the community. This meant we needed a LOT of berries. Fortunately, collecting the berries was easy work with twelve eager students to help expedite the process.  In barely an hour we had already collected multiple gallon bags of blackberries. 

After collecting the berries, we piled back into the truck and headed back to school. The students then helped us wash and sort berrie…