Saturday, March 3, 2018

Same District, New Job

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Well, if I'm being honest, this whole year has been a whirlwind when I take into consideration the craziness that has been this pregnancy and general life/teaching in the bush. It's been a wonderful year, but a busy one. Weighing heavily on Cody and I's minds this year was what we were going to do next year. We really love Pilot Point and have enjoyed living and working here. There are quite a few things working against us staying here for next year though. For starters, we have no childcare. Cody would have to stay home with baby, which he and I were interested in doing, but he wouldn't have any other young families/parent groups to socialize with here because our village is just so small. Also, the lack of healthcare and inaccessibility of it has been heavy on me. It costs $1,100/person to travel to the hospital in Anchorage and unfortunately our school's insurance doesn't cover health services in our village.

With these two issues weighing on us, we eventually came to the decision that we needed a change for next year. I began speaking with my district administrators about moving to one of our northern villages for next year. Our northern villages have much better, cheaper access to Anchorage and there is a clinic in one of the villages staffed by a PA that our insurance will cover. So, I proceeded through the second half of this year thinking I'd probably be calling one of these villages home soon.

Then, I found out that our district's Registrar was retiring and that they were combining his position with the position of Teacher Mentor. The district advertised that they wanted a current LPSD teacher to take the role because they wanted it to be someone who was already familiar with how we do things. I applied on a bit of a whim and told myself that the job was a total shot in the dark, especially since I heard that many others were applying too. I interviewed and tried to remain optimistic, but I had strong hunch that it wouldn't work out.

Well, I was wrong! The district offered me the position of Registrar/Teacher Mentor for next year. The position will actually be located in Palmer, Alaska, which will be a HUGE change since Cody and I haven't lived in a road system location in over six years. I will be traveling some and will still get to spend time in our villages helping new teachers adjust to life in the bush. Most of my time will be spent working remotely from our new district office in Palmer though. It'll be a huge adjustment and very different than being in the classroom, but I am super excited for this next chapter.

With all of this new knowledge, we've been adjusting to what our new lives will entail next year and starting to panic a little bit about moving with a newborn. The next couple of months are sure to be crazy. In less than a month we move to Anchorage to have the baby, then sometime before May 15th we will be moving back to Pilot Point to start the packing process, sometime in late May I am going to spend a couple of weeks training with our current Registrar, and then in June we will be relocating to Palmer. While it will be crazy, I am really optimistic and hope this will be our last move for quite some time. This will be our fourth city we've lived in over the last 7 years and I'm hoping it's the one we get to stay in and raise our child. Fingers crossed for a smooth transition!

Your turn...Have you ever made a big job switch?
Currently listening to...Good People - Jack Johnson

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Videos for Teachers Interested in Rural Alaska

It's that time of the year! In many Alaskan districts (including Lake & Pen) contracts have gone out and the hiring season is getting ready to begin. As always, districts across the state are looking for quality teachers to join the ranks out in the bush. Making the decision to move to rural Alaska isn't an easy one, but there are many good resources out there to aid you in your research. One of the many great resources out there are videos. There are tons of videos out there on YouTube and school district websites. Below, I've compiled four of my personal favorite videos that I recommend checking out if you're thinking about making the leap to become a teacher in rural Alaska.

Bushed: Teaching Life in Rural Alaska
This is a four-part documentary series, and even though it is long I would highly recommend watching all four parts of it. The couple in it does a wonderful job of looking honestly at some of the challenges that come with being a teacher in rural Alaska. When I was first researching teaching in Alaska this series helped me so much. The wife from this series maintains a really great blog, which I recommend checking out too. BONUS - This family is a total success story because they still live and teach in rural Alaska!

KTUU Teaching in Alaska: Pilot Point School
This one is about us! KTUU (an Alaska news network) came to Pilot Point a few years back and shot a special about teaching in Alaska. It does a great job of highlighting the pros and cons of teaching in such a remote, small village. The teachers in it are also great, and one of them actually still works for our district just in another village. I watched this one more than once before making my decision to move to Pilot Point and found it super helpful. This video will be particularly informational if you're considering a one or two teacher site.

INDIE ALASKA: I am a Whittier Teacher
INDIE ALASKA does a lot of really amazing videos, which I highly recommend checking out. This one in particular is great because it follows a teacher in Whittier through her daily life. Whittier isn't exactly a Bush community, but it isn't exactly a normal community either. For anyone unfamiliar with Whittier, it is a small community south of Anchorage that is only accessible by tunnel. In addition to this oddity. Whittier's entire 200 person population lives in one building. This teachers story is super interesting and she has some good insight into living under a microscope, which is inevitable as a bush teacher.

First Year Teacher Adjusts to Life in Rural Alaska
I think this one is super informational because the teacher in it is a first year educator who has only been in Alaska a few short months. She discusses the intensity of being somewhere so rural and some of the difficulties that come with teaching in the bush. She addresses homesicknesses and texting her family to tell them she's ready to come home, which I think is something some new teachers don't always realize will be so amplified in the villages. Her principal also makes a guest appearance to talk about what makes teachers successful in rural Alaska.

There are so many other great videos out there, and I highly recommend you watch some of them before making the leap. As always, some of the videos you find will be from educators who had successful experiences and some are from those what had not-so successful experiences. It's important to look at all sides before you jump into such a big decision though and listening to people's firsthand experiences can be super helpful with that.

Your turn...Do you have any great video suggestions about where you live or your profession? 
Currently listening to...Heavy Feet - Local Natives