Cold Hands, Warm Heart

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Nome, Alaska, United States
After getting burned out teaching high school in a tiny Alaskan town, I have moved on to being a child advocate in a small Alaskan town. The struggles are similar, but now I can buy milk at the store.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


It has recently been brought to my attention that I don't blog enough about the other members of my staff. So here goes:

Bob: Mr. Robert Young, 45, is the math teacher. He is also my co-senior advisor. He is a kind, good, and decent man. He lives next door to Kiley and Kevin.

Amy: Amy is my roommate. She is wonderful. She teaches ECE, and is creative, funny, and hard-working. Sometimes, she hangs out with Kiley.

Kevin: Kev is a new teacher up here, but not new to teaching, which is nice. His biggest fault so far is that he made me watch some show on A&E where they let Tony Danza be an English teacher. Really A&E? Really?  Kev is also the wrestling coach, and is married to Kiley.

Bea and Sue: I know they're not a matched set, but it's quarter to 11 at night, and I'm getting tired. Not only have Bea and Sue been here longer than me, and know more about the village than I do, but they are willing to share that knowledge with me. Also, they were totally stoked about dressing up like fairys for Halloween! (okay, not Sue, but Kiley and I talked her into it, because she is a fun loving, and free-wheeling sort of girl.)

It feels like I'm missing someone. Oh, right Kiley:  Ki is my exercise buddy, the new sped teachers on the elementary side, a bottle blonde/brunette, one funny drunkard, pretty nice to 66% of the dogs in her house, brave, funny, clever, kind, caring, and all around wonderful.

(Okay Kiley, I'd like my $10 now.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

District News

Since the beginning of the school year, our district has had three suicides.  Two were students, one was the father of five students.

On Saturday, a bunch of kids down in Brevig Mission were playing Russian Roulette, and a 13-year-old boy shot himself in the head.

Dear Government,

I can't seem to find the line on your AYP form that asks for an accounting of how our kids are dealing with this. I see the line for attendance, test scores, and graduation. But nowhere on the list is there a place for us to mark down the strides we've made in compassion, understanding, or coping with all the horrors that take place in this district.

A Very Confused Teacher

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


My grandmother recently posted on a picture of my from Facebook, where I had ridiculously short hair. And it's not new, it's very old. So I thought I'd give you all the final of my "I'm trying to grow my hair out" project.

This is the one Gramma saw. From last fall, when I cut Amy's hair, and decided to cut mine too. Look how short!! 

Umm, there's nothing wrong with the color, that was a Halloween costume. But look: My hair touches my shoulders again!

Last year, at UNK. Finally growing out enough to both be curly and touch my shoulders at the same time.

Begining of this school year. Just did the color. I guess it was long enough here to count as "long" but I didn't realize it.

Yeah!! Long hair again. Whoo!! And now my roots are growing out, and it's time to fix that, or something.

There is a point to what I'm showing you, and it's even school related: If all the kids who just took the HSGQE (state graduation test) pass all three parts, I'll shave my head. I've been telling them this all year.

They took the test last week. We don't have the results back yet. However, I happen to know that at least one kid didn't even show up for all three, so I guess I'm safe again. I'll cut the same deal for the spring test, which isn't a re-take, it's just the test for the year. Wish me luck. Or wish the kiddo's luck.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


For those of you who may think Shishmaref is small, I have one word of consolation: Wales.

Wales is our closest neighboring town. Yesterday, while flying from SHH to UNK (or Shishmaref to Unalakleet, for those of you who don't speak in airport codes), we dropped off a girl and picked up two leadership training people from Wales.

I was able to stick my laptop camera up to the window, and take a picture of THEIR ENTIRE VILLAGE. In one shot:

Yup, that's their whole town. And all 152 of them (at the 2000 census) fit into that handful of houses.

So the next time I complain about how far we have to walk to the snack-shack, or about how there are so many people in line at the student store, I just need to be reminded that at least I have people around me.