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Showing posts from 2017

The End of Another School Year

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School officially ended on Wednesday, and just like that I've wrapped up my fifth year of teaching, my first year of teaching in Pilot Point, and my first year as a Head Teacher. It's been a wild ride, but I'm so happy with how successful this year was.


We celebrated the end of the year in a variety of ways. The first celebration was on the Friday before school ended and we hosted a preschool graduation (we had no graduating high school kids this year), an awards ceremony, and a potluck. At this potluck, we had a video tribute to our school year, which was beautifully created by our high school teacher Melissa. I think everyone really loved the video, so I thought it would be fun to share it here too.



On Wednesday, the last day of school, we hosted a cookout on the beach for all of the students. It was such a fun, special way to end the year. The weather was perfect - sunny and in the upper 50's. We cooked hotdogs, played football and frisbee, and climbed some of the b…

Taking a Steam

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When I first came to Alaska back in 2010, I found myself in an odd situation. One night, I was invited over to "steam" at a local woman's house. I had no background information about what a "steam" might entail, with the exception of my own very limited experiences in the sauna at my local gym. I happily accepted though because I'd spent the summer filthy and covered in fish guts. Upon arriving at the local woman's house, I was greeted with what can only be described as an outdoor shanty full of naked women. It was a surprise, to say the least.


After that first fateful steam, I slowly learned the inner working of "taking a steam" and what it means in Alaskan culture - particularly the culture in rural Alaska. You see, in rural Alaska it is extremely common for people to have a steam bath outside of their home. The building that it is in is typically a wooden structure, almost looking like a work shed. The steam baths are heated by some sort of…

Honda Rides on the Tundra

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One of the things I've been wishing for most since we arrived in Pilot Point is regular access to a Honda (aka four-wheeler). There are so many beautiful places around Pilot Point that we can't access by car or on foot. We've been shopping for a Honda for awhile this year, but have yet to find anything that we can purchase and get shipped to the village easily. Thankfully, we have some pretty awesome friends in the village. One of the local couples has been paticularly wonderful about offering their Honda to us on many occasions. While they were out of town last week, they gave Cody and I free reign of the Honda.


We did lots of little rides around town and a few short rides out onto well traveled trails, but we didn't have the guts to go anywhere too far away. Then, one day after work, our friend Warren offered to take us out on the back loop trail that goes 8ish miles out behind the village and then snakes around the river back up to the village, eventually ending on …

Wanted: Teachers in Bush Alaska!

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Springtime Arrivals

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The weather is changing. The change is subtle, but it is absolutely happening. Hints of springtime are officially in the air on the Alaska Peninsula. It helps that the sun is now shining for over twelve hours a day.  Sunrise is at 7:51am and sunset is at 9:15pm. We no longer live our lives in the dark. Instead, we walk to work in beautiful sunrise light, and we even go to sleep some nights with dusk still on the horizon. This newfound daylight has definitely been affecting our daily schedules.


At the beginning of the month, we had visitors to our little corner of the bush. Two student teachers from the University of Alaska came to visit Pilot Point as part of their Rural Practicum program. Our district frequently hosts student teachers, practicum students, and even tutors. They come to us from universities all over the US. However, Pilot Point is not often one of the places where these visitors find themselves. Our larger villages tend to be more appealing simply because there is more…

Pilot Point Needs a Teacher!

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This past year has been a wild adventure, and Pilot Point has been the central setting to that adventure. Our time here has been largely shaped by the people, and more specifically the other teacher and her husband. Unfortunately though, Melissa and Ben will not be staying in Pilot Point next year. This means that the secondary position at our school is open. I, of course, am anxious to see who will fill the role. Pilot Point is a wonderful little community, and I want the very best for our kids. It's hard to recruit good teachers for the bush, and it's harder still to recruit for such a small site. However, even though we are small, there are a lot of good things about teaching in Pilot Point.


Lake and Peninsula School District is one of the best rural districts in the state. LPSD is the third district I've taught for in my career, and it's the best by a mile. The benefits package is great. The administration is supportive, consistent, and easy to work with. There is v…

Five Things I Want Incoming Bush Teachers to Know

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This weekend is the Alaska Teacher Placement (ATP) Job Fair. At the job fair, much of the recruiting for the upcoming school year is done. Teachers fly from all over to convene in Anchorage. In the coming weeks, other fairs will be held in Portland, Minneapolis, and Austin. In the past I've posted links and stories about topics I think are important for incoming teachers. Here you can find my post about "How to Find a Teaching Job in Alaska." Here you can find my post about "A Day in the Life of an Alaskan Bush Teacher." There are so many things that I think are important for new teachers, especially first year teachers, to know before they take the leap and head out on this great adventure.


With all of these things in mind, I thought I would share my top five tidbits that I think incoming bush teachers need to know. There are definitely more than just five important things to know, but these specific things have been on my mind lately and I wanted to share.

//F…

Pilot Point Carnival '17

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In many of the villages in our district, "Carnival" is a big deal. Carnival is a weekend of fun events, hosted by the village. We'd been hearing about Pilot Point's Winter Carnival practically since we stepped off of the airplane back in August. The kids are constantly raving about it and asking us things like, "Are you going to dance with me at the Carnival dance?!" With the students so excited,  I couldn't help getting a bit hyped up about it myself.


Friday afternoon we released from school at lunchtime and then the village officially kicked off the Carnival with a kids cooking competition hosted at the school. This was probably one of my favorite events of the whole Carnival because the kids were so incredibly excited about it. The competition was set-up like the show Chopped. The kids each had a basket of "mystery ingredients" and they were given one hour to create an edible dinner meal. Each kid was assigned an adult to help them chop thi…

Basketball

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Basketball is life for students in rural Alaska. Our village is no different in this respect. Basketball is one of the few sports that our students can play year round because all it requires is access to an indoor court (and conveniently all of our schools have one of those). Our village does have an outdoor court - one with wooden planking for a court floor, a fishing net in place of a standard hoop net, and endless ocean views - but it is really only in use during the summer months. The rest of the year, the school basketball court is king.


In our district, there are only two schools that are big enough to compete in regular 5-on-5 basketball tournaments. The rest of our small schools, including Pilot Point, compete in 3-on-3 tournaments instead. This year, I volunteered to be our schools basketball coach. Our team was tiny, with only one student allowed to travel, but we still practiced hard and flew to two separate tournaments this season. We were paired up with Port Heiden, a ne…