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Thread: What school districts do Alaskan teachers hate to work for?

  1. #1

    Default What school districts do Alaskan teachers hate to work for?

    Without calling individual school boards, principals or Supers out, what school districts are "challenging"?

    Obviously places like Nelson Island, little Diomede and so on are a PIA to get to and logistical nightmare.

    I am talking about either the districts policies or morale climate is dog eat dog. It is understood that some places don't have ideal living conditions.

    thanks again,

    Seth

  2. #2

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    Not trying to create drama, if there was an edit button I'd change my original post to read. What districts do Alaskan teachers like the best?

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    In my limited experience, it's more about the principal and the individual school culture rather than the district as a whole. I work in the Anchorage School District, and while there are some changes afoot at the district level due to funding constraints, I find that the more immediate impacts on my life as a teacher come from within the building. I have a supportive administration, a vibrant group of colleagues, and generally supportive and involved parents - thus I really enjoy where I work. I've heard the same from some buildings and more mixed reviews from a handful of others. I can't speak to the realities of other districts, but I'd assume the same to be true - find a building with an involved, supportive principal along with engaged colleagues and a supportive community, and you'll likely find a great place to work.

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    The handful of remote teachers I have known that also had issues with the job never expressed an issue with the school or district. Their issues were on two things: the culture or the remoteness.

    The culture. One college friend, raised in a small AK town in the interior, worked his first year as a teacher in a Yupik village on the lower kuskokwim. By thanksgiving he had started sleeping on the floor of the house, behind two or three sheets of plywood. Why? Three times shots came through the front wall. Young men would spend time out front making threats if he came out of the house. Why? He was a single white male there to steal their game and women. Threats everyday, bullying by the locals all drove him nuts. He retired after a year, and now teaches back in his home town.

    The remoteness. Just imagine your time on Adak without all the logistic support and moral and welfare. Then cut the population down to a couple hundred people.

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    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
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    Come to Michigan....where in two more years there won't be public education. 37,000 layoffs in the last two years and a gutting of your retirement. I'll take teenagers shooting at me any day...at least you can shoot back.

    Ron
    "Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure science"

    Edwin Hubble

  6. #6

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    Thanks all, as always like Ace Hardware, this is the place.

    I think it would be tough to teach in Adak, but at least you would have something to do in the off time.

    To me the toughest ones would be places like Little Diomede. And any of the very small towns that aren't hubs in the bush.

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    Even the ones that are bush hubs often have some pretty severe cluster action going on. The Dillingham district chews em up and spits em out at an impressive rate. So, while Brian and AK Ray say that it was more the culture........where is the culture more prevalent than in a school? This was the case in Dillingham, the few good teachers and admin that were out there had to battle the culture, often had dead end administration that couldn't make it elsewhere (seriously, several were let go or asked to leave or simply non-retained directly before coming to DLG) and in general you either adapted (read gave in) to the local culture within your educational tasks....or you left.

    Basically, even if you are lucky enough to get some decent administration that actualy wants to be there, as opposed to can be hired nowhere else, and have decent teachers with you, and can tolerate the kids, many of the parents (again, culture) are going to make things difficult for you if that's the trend.

    It's not for the faint of heart, some find it very rewarding, some find it horrifying, and some it just makes them very mad. This is my limited experience with bush districts. THere are some gems out there, ironically, the Southwest SchoolDistrict based in Dillingham, actually has folks doing well as teachers in remote villages and is generally a success educationally and with their personnel. Thus, it is so driven by what is in place now, who is running the show, and what kind of environment they have created. If looking to go somewhere, I'd get as much info directly as possible as to the moral of the schools, how the community feels towards the schools and teachers, and make each decision on a case by case basis. One strong administrator leaving can let the whole house of cards fall so make sure you information is current.....a place that was wonderful 5 or 10 years ago could be a reality show today.

    I'm not saying don't do it, I'm just saying choose carefully.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Ray View Post
    Why? He was a single white male there to steal their game and women. Threats everyday, bullying by the locals all drove him nuts. He retired after a year, and now teaches back in his home town.

    .

    I caught some of this BS in DLG as well, I told them I'd promise not to touch a single one of the women if they told me their moose hunting spots I kept my end of the bargain, they however did not. But, then again, their moose hunting spots were all max 100 yards off the road.

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    I have taught in three villages, two school districts. The main problem teachers have in the bush is culture shock. Believe me it is going to be different. Then you have the dark and cold. Worst day in Shaktoolik was -59 with 55 mph winds. Also had some great days. Your best bet is to go to the spring job fair in Anchorage and talk to the other job seekers over there. Generally if a school district is hiring 50 teachers in April, don't go there. Some places have very stable teacher populations. White Mountain in the Bering Straight district see very little turnover for instance. So take everything with a grain of salt, but research, research, research.

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  10. #10

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    Wife has 3 requirements for locations, and I have two.

    Her's:

    1. Bush hub (or Fairbanks, Anchorage direct fly-able), Road system, ferry system.
    2. At minimum a clinic
    3. Good community center and locally stuff to do.

    Mine:
    1. Good hunting
    2. No reality show group of co-workers or district admins.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    The definition of "locally stuff to do" looks like it will be the kicker. There's a pretty big range of opinions on what qualifies, and that might disqualify the vast majority of the state.

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    Member ERL's Avatar
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    One thing to consider when looking at a district is the schedule. When i first started working here in the mat-su district school started the first part of sept. It was really nice for a guy like me who loves to hunt. Now however school starts at the beginning of aug. No chance to get a sheep hunt in or anything before school starts. With only 4 personal days a year it makes it very hard to enjoy any hunts. I would definitly say mat-su schedule is not hunter friendly.

    Sent from my ZTE-Z990G using Tapatalk 2

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, the entire state went to a similar schedule after Anchorage got the ball rolling. I did my best to fight it, but twice I was the only person to testify in person. Despite pages of written testimony explaining why the early start was a bad deal for Alaskan families, not having any more support in person hurt the cause. As goes Anchorage, so goes the rest of the state. This next year we start on August 15th (teachers do, anyhow), so there is still time for a short sheep hunt.

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    If you are considering a bush village your wife is probably not going to like it unless she also has a job with the school. There are NO jobs openings in the villages. If you do not enjoy outdoor activities or school activities there is nothing else to do out there. No theater, you shop by Costco or Sams and have your food mailed to yourself, very little to do. Housing is in short supply so do not expect lavious living conditions. You will have a village clinic probably manned my a PA if you are lucky. Dentistry you usually have to fly out. Used to be a great dentist in Nome. I had to fly over there once from Shaktoolik to get a temp filling put in. Lasted 8 years though!

    Vietnam - June 70 - Feb. 72
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  15. #15

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    I have lived in Barrow and Sitka before. Obviously Barrow is a village hub, and Sitka is in SE. I thought both had enough to do, but it was easy to get bored. The hardest part is when it's been -50 for 3 days, and the wind is howling. Those are the days when you really want to be someplace else. Granted Barrow is the biggest bush village (or was at the time).

    Most of the people I worked with in Barrow had a 2nd home in the valley or Fairbanks.

    We are lucky in that we have my retirement income, so the financial stress of not having the cash to get out of town at least every other month isn't there.

    While I would love to live Heimo Korth's Alaska somewhere between Anchorage and a hub village like Nome or King Salmon is where my wife and I' will meet in the middle.

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    Member tccak71's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ERL View Post
    With only 4 personal days a year it makes it very hard to enjoy any hunts. I would definitly say mat-su schedule is not hunter friendly.

    Sent from my ZTE-Z990G using Tapatalk 2
    4 personal days!! Dang. You guys have it made. See what you can do with 2.5! I don't think education in general is "hunter friendly."

    I think ASD is a mess. School begins Aug. 15 so teachers can end school at Christmas break, errr... to "improve test scores." And we have progressive policies (along with rising budget and decreasing student numbers) and a hatchet-man super who is leaving after upsetting the apple cart.

    Mostly it's like Brian said. It's more important to find a building with a supportive principal, good staff & good morale.

  17. #17

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    Education is the only career I can think of that regularly keeps a guy from hunting.

    Then again, darn near 4 months of time off too. And most folks don't have that at all.

  18. #18

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    Thanks again to everyone for their input, we have decided that until we know what's going on in the USA we'd be better off working.

    So I am going to seek work in Alaska in Hazmat/Safety/Logistics/Security and go to school part time.

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