Monday, August 3, 2009

Taking a job in Alaska

So right now I'm 30 some thousand feet over the middle of Canada just about to start my adventure in Alaska. This whole idea to pack up and move to Alaska started the period before I was about to go on spring break, I found out I might night have a job in Colorado for the next school year. I had wanted to move to Alaska for years and ended up taking my teaching job in Colorado because of a girl, otherwise I'd probably would have been writing this a year ago.

After some searching on line and a spur of the moment weekend trip during a spring blizzard, I flew from Colorado to Chicago and drove with my dad to lower Michigan to attended an Alaska teacher job fair. After I signed up for the job fair and bought a plane ticket, I found out all the schools were bush schools- off the road system. At first I wasn't so sure about moving off the road system but then I got a wild hair up my rear and decided I might as well give it a go and try life off the road system.

While at the job fair I had 2-3 job offers including a job in Tuluksak Alaska. I left with the understanding I'd call the assistant superintendent back in a day or 2 and let her know what I decided. Before my dad and I had made it from lower Michigan to their place in Illinois, I'd decided I'd take the job. Why not give it a try, this is something many people dream of and I won't regret giving it a go. The last couple months of my first year teaching shop in Colorado flew by. I was busy packing, getting rid of 5 vehicles in various stages of disrepair, and buying guns and other necessary out door gear for Alaska.

During the spring I found out about a couple people I'd be working with. One of the people is also my roommate Fred Loeper. He's just about double my age and the 4th grade teacher. He's moving there from Arizona. Some of his hobbies are hiking and biking and he plans on bringing a lot of TV shows and movies to pass the time. It'll definitely be interesting living with some one just about my parents age. I also got to talk to my principal, Lance Jackson, he seems like a nice guy. He's a big supporter of shop and a bit of a self-proclaimed gear head. Most of his education experience is in the prison school system. I'm crossing fingers he's a disciplinarian. Tom Jacobs was another person I got in contact with, he's the head of maintenance for the school district. Tom and his wife have lived in the village 9 years and had lived in Steamboat, Colorado for a long time before they moved to a bush. He's a mechanic by trade and has given me some decent incsight about what to expect and what to do.

My summer was a blur with only 6 weeks until a report date in Anchorage of August 3rd. I ended up moving most of my tools and other “possessions” to my parents house in Illinois and their island house on Beaver Island. No need to bring my tools and some of my other possessions to Alaska. The things I had decided to bring to Alaska were all shipped up in June via us postal service. To ship things to the bush of Alaska, you fill up a Rubber Maid tote, zip tie the lid on, write your address with a sharpie right on it, and cross your fingers it finds it's way to Alaska. I ended up sending up 8 totes of things including my clothes, cold weather gear, and food for most of the fall.

What I know right now about where I'm headed is- it's off the road system; the only way in/ out is bush plane, boat, or snow machine if the river is frozen. There is 1 “store” in the village that sells just about everything from ammo to zebra cakes. The problem is that it's rather expensive and it might take 3 months for them to restock the zebra cakes. There are very few cars, everyone has snow machines (snowmobile) and ATVs. It's About 400 miles due west of Anchorage at the junction of the Kusokoum and Tuluksak rivers, 1 ½ hours from Bethel by snow machine. The town is around 500 people, everyone is of Yupik decent besides the teachers. I've heard this and that about teaching in the bush and I'm going to keep an open mind. It's going to be an adventure and an amazing story no matter what happens.

Right now I'm headed to Anchorage to spend the weekend with an old 4 wheeling buddy, Brian Dow, to do some salmon fishing. I also plan on running into a teacher from Colorado, Maggie Keller. She booked a ticket last night be come up and visit her brother Mark. Mark lives in Anchorage and is an juvenile dentist. I'm excited about the weekend. I've never been salmon fishing, it'll bee good to see Maggie again, and to get to know Brian and Mark better. I'll keep everyone posted, this is going to be an Adventure. If you know me you know there's never a dull moment in Andy Land.