Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bear mauling in Shaktoolik

Back in Buckley, WA my dad made sure that I knew how to kill a bear with a knife because I didn't bring a gun to Alaska. He even did the motions right there in the living room and grabbed a steak knife to use as a prop! Of course, then I get here and find out that you can shoot a grizzly in the heart with a .308 and it can live for hours afterwards. Thanks for the advice dad, but I think I'm going to hang out with people who carry huge rifles when I go out into the wilderness.

This happened a few weeks ago, but Sean, the guy who was mauled, is still in the hospital and it's a big concern for the village. I included the news articles under my "links" section.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Woohoo! Done with the first day of teaching!

Wow, that's quite a relief. I met all but 2 of my students during my first day of teaching and I got all of my pre-teaching jitters out. I spent each period talking about our class rules while having them work through different classroom procedures with me, and there weren't any behavior issues at all! I also shared stories about eating disgusting halibut tacos for breakfast because of my brother Riley and the time my friend John put the wrong type of detergent in the dishwasher. I'm going to use a lot of stories from Washington in my teaching to let the students get to know me, and to (hopefully) keep me from getting homesick. I'll stop talking about the first day though, because I know all of my teacher friends back in Washington are thinking, "Shut up! I don't start for 2 weeks!" Muwhahahahaha!

Time to start the real planning though, all the math those students can handle. YES! Here's the pictures I took from Anchorage. My box came today! Woo!

Frontier-style shopping. Notice how I'm acting like the cart is a deer.

Close up of $600 worth of food and supplies. Only $140 shipping for over 250 lbs.

A very beautiful bull moose hanging out in somebody's backyard. I was about 10 feet away when I took the picture. Wooh!

A cow moose with twin calves! Hanging out along the highway of Eagle River, just outside of Anchorage.

Glaciers and mountains during the flight to Nome.

My last view of Mt. Rainier for a while.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Here's a bunch of pictures I have been taking. The ones I got in Anchorage will have to wait until I get another cord sent up. Pictures of my classroom will be posted as soon as I'm done arranging it.

A student and myself hangin' out on the river.

The view of town from the river.

About 6:30 am view from my front window.

My living room/dining room. You can see the school through the windows.

My first meal, spaghetti! Been eating it for 5 days now. MMmmmmm.

The North End of Town:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Big Post, Lots of Info!

I just got back from training session #2 at Unalakleet (40 miles south of Shaktoolik), and I feel great! I had multicultural training, training in my reading curriculum, and training with the BSSD instructional model. Quite a different instructional model, given the small class sizes. To my fellow teachers, imagine not grading students, but having a list of all the GLEs for every student, and marking each GLE off individually when it has been demonstrated that they know it. So basically, if the standard says, "Student knows how to multiply fractions," and I give them a test on multiplying fractions, if they score over 80% I check it off their list. Way cool.

We even had a BSSD fun run with a lot of the staff members, and I came in 4th place! Kim "The Ironwoman" passed me at the 3 mile mark, but running 4.4 miles in 30 minutes is alright in my book. I celebrated with some new friends from Stebbins (another school) by eating some pizza from the only restaurant in town, Peace on Earth. $30 seems like a little much for a pizza, but it's only an extra $10 to have it delivered to Shaktoolik! The only problem is, if for some reason the flight is cancelled, they just throw your pizza on a chair and deliver it with the next plane, which is typically in a couple of days.

I feel strange in Unalakleet because they actually have a grid of roads. You can actually walk "around" town instead of just "through" town. I asked an old man on an ATV outside of Shaktoolik today, "Hey, which road are you taking?" He just looked at me real funny and said, "THE road. I'm going to go down THE road."

Now I'm sitting here in my classroom, silently pondering how class is going to run in 5 short days. I'm sharing a room in the school with the Special Education teacher, so it feels a little cramped, but the 15 foot ceiling makes the space feel enormous. The 8 classrooms in the school are well furnished with bookshelves, desks, computers, and everything a modern classroom would have. I remember asking a returning teacher what kind of supplies they had at the school, my thought process telling me it would be like a third world country. I couldn't have been farther from the truth! My desk is overflowing with sticky notes, pens, paper, markers, and stationary. I have two 8-foot white boards at the front of the class and six computers lining the walls. There's also enough math curriculum here to build a textbook fort the size of a small castle. With manipulatives, workbooks, games, supplies, and a slew of textbooks dating from the Nixon administration to a few months ago, I've got enough material to last me until May of 2029.

As soon as my camera cord arrives, I'll make sure to post plenty of pictures of the town/school/my duplex/everything!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hi from Unalakleet

Training is going great here at the BSSD headquarters in Unalakleet. It's been a very full 5 days since I left Washington. In Anchorage I stayed with Laura and her family, and they were totally awesome! They took me to see the wild moose that lives in their backyard (he is HUGE), and they shuffled me around Anchorage to do all of my errands. After spending 600 dollars at Fred Meyer, I left on Monday morning for Shaktoolik.

The flight from Anchorage to Nome was spectacular! The glaciers and mountains were truly majestic. I met up with some fellow BSSD teachers in Nome and the wonderful Sandy of Koyuk gave me a tour. I got my last burger at Fat Freddie's in Nome and took off for "Shak," my home village.

I was so nervous upon pulling into Shaktoolik that I didn't even notice how the airplane seemed like it was rattling apart. I was more concerned with how I would be greeted and accepted by the local people.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Goodbye Washington, Hello Anchorage!

After a thrilling 8-day motorcycle ride to Eureka, California, I feel like I got in enough biking to last me through the Alaskan winter. The wickedly windy roads of Oregon and northern California treated us well and and with favorable weather I camped nearly every day. The redwoods were truly majestic and I loved riding through those twisty forest roads. My last week with everyone FLEW by, but I feel like I got to say all of my goodbyes. The scavenged, hand-me-down winter gear is shipped and I leave tonight. I'm very lucky because my aunt's best friend in Anchorage has agreed to put me up for a few days and drive me around.

The airline tickets are printed and I'm just putting the finishing touches on my huge shopping list. I've never purchased such a massive quantity of food, but I've heard the stores in Anchorage are well suited to meet the needs of bush teachers. They even have a "bush department" where you give them your shopping cart full of food and they pack it, then ship it right to your door! I've attached the shopping list to the blog. I'll have to work some numbers a little more because 180 cups of flour seems like a lot! Or does it seem like not enough? Hmmm......