Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The big catch

After school fun in most schools includes hanging with friends at the local pizza parlor or skate park, but at Lake and Peninsula the kids showed us after school fun means piling on the quads and speeding full throttle to the beach for some halibut fishing. Within minutes of casting some line, Andrew reeled in a big one, but it wasn't after he put up a fight, that fish was feisty. We estimated it to be about 40 inches & 35lbs pounds. It was a group effort to clean and skin him, but we got 4 large fillets, lots of fresh fish!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

8/22//09 Fishing at the Kametola River, 5 mile hike from our village. Andrew did a superb job catching pink salmon while I chose to stand bear guard, considering we did track one the entire way here.
A beautiful site knowing there will be fresh fish for dinner
It's so important to be alert and aware of your surroundings, because we're not in PA anymore and everything is bigger and more fierce in Alaska!

Back to school

This week I've learned that to have a successful year teaching in Alaska means being flexible, self sufficient, and having a good sense of humor. All of which I believe are strengths of mine. Being in small schools that average 30 students and 3 teachers means taking on more roles than just the teacher and working together as a team to get things done. We like to consider ourselves as creative problem solvers. Together we managed to set up the entire school for the first day, its great to have two male teachers for moving furniture and killing bugs! The best part about teaching in a small village is the opportunity to get to know each student in and out of school. Several of the students showed us around the village on their hondas (the main source of transportation) and this weekend we were all invited to go with a few of our students on a fishing boat to Humpback Bay, but because of the wind it’s been postponed.
Weather in Alaska is always changing and varies drastically throughout the state. Perryville has very mild winters and not much more snow than Pittsburgh, compared to Fairbanks, which experiences heavy snowfall and -50 degree temperatures in the winter. Being an itinerant teacher and traveling to 5 villages weather and bush pilots are a huge part of my life. It’s great being able to plan my own schedule and our travel coordinator is very accommodating, but the weather has the final say. I’m told to plan on being weathered in and out of villages, hence the need for being self sufficient, if I don’t plan and bring extra food, I guess it’s off to the river with my new fishing pole for dinner!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Early mornings in Perryville

8/16/09 Another nice morning and perfect for a Sunday run. I awoke to several sets of bear prints, looked like mama and her cubs, so I took the bear spray just in case. No one else around except a few fishermen heading out for the day. I'm told the Silvers and humpies ran early this year, so Sockeye Salmon is plentiful at this time. Great day to stock up on our food supply for the winter.

The pictures don't do justice to a place this beautiful...

Moving to Bush Alaska

After 5 years of teaching in California, 2 years back in Pennsylvania to complete a masters program at SRU and spend time with family, I'm ready for the next chapter in my life as an Alaskan Bush teacher. It's something I've often thought about and the opportunity presented itself at a good time with a great school district. I plan to write about my experiences and post pictures as often as I can to stay connected to family and friends....Life as an Alaskan Bush teacher began on 8/4/09 in Anchorage. After a 16 hr day of planes and airports, I met the superintendent and a few other new teachers at the airport and headed to the "Anchorage" house where we stayed for the next couple of days. We all joked that it felt like the real world only with a group of educators. Five of us are from PA, near Pittsburgh, so lots of black & gold headed to the bush! The school district did a wonderful job with new teacher inservice. They provided us a house, meals, vans, workshops, and veteran teachers who helped us with shopping, DMV, and all the logistics that go with preparing to spend 9 months living and teaching in a remote village on the Alaskan Peninsula.
The endless packing of tubs... I'll be happy not to see a Sam's Club or Walmart for quite a while!

Looks more like a refugee camp!

My first moose sighting in Anchorage, not the best shot, but didn't want to get too close.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Journey begins...

8/9/09 Everyone flew to the Katmai Lodge in King Salmon, where we met up with the rest of the teachers and staff for inservice. The weather was perfect and the scenery was beautiful. This is sunrise at 5:30 on the Alagnak River.

Float plane, seats 10...my first experience flying in a bush plane

8/14/09 Everyone departed King Salmon for their village. I sure will miss everyone, but we will meet again in October for another inservice. Perryville is home sweet home until May. Being the only SPED teacher for the southern villages, I get to travel to Pilot Point, Port Heiden, Chignik Bay and Chignik Lake. It's quite the opportunity and I'm real excited to work with a small group of students and be immersed in a different culture. .

Preparing to land in Perryville, a fishing village about 500 miles south of Anchorage on the Pacific Ocean. It's beautiful here and the moment we got off the plane the people in the village have welcomed us and helped us settle in.

I caught my first fish, grilling silver salmon right on the boat, doesn't get any fresher than that

Alaskan sunset at 11:30, the long days are awesome, but I'm not looking forward to the short cold winter days

My first bear sighting, pretty amazing to witness a bear catch a fish with just his paws right in front of you...I'm told there are several in Perryville, I'm thinking I might need to carry some bear spray on my morning runs.