Friday, September 26, 2008

Winter is here

I would first like to apologize for my amazing ability to be a slacker. Haven't been posting as often as I should. IT stole my computer for a week and had a lot of catching up to do.

Monday was the fall equinox and we are now losing ten minutes a day of sunlight. It really is making a huge difference. By 9:00 last night it was already dark. All week it has been snowing on and off, but today it really started to snow and stick. I just ran home for lunch and thought I'd be blown over by the wind. It's cold, too! It's a good thing that my boots came in, so now I'm set. Bring it on winter, I'm ready!

I'm spending more and more time at school now. Janey and I have the store up and running. We open it during night rec, which is a time for kids to come use the gym to play in, and we are making a lot of money off of their sugar addictions.

This afternoon, for everyone's entertainment, we are having a staff vs. students soccer game. I'll be in there, making quite a laughing stock for everyone to see. We also are having a volleyball game tomorrow, and you better believe I'll be playing then too. Anything to keep myself occupied.

We also recently received all of the student laptops for the year. Our school is part of the Apple One-to-One program, where every student, grades 4th and up, get their own laptop to use for the year. I'm loving the fact that I can get everyone motivated enough to do their work on the laptops. It's a really great tool and the kids seem to enjoy it too. It's even better since we don't have to fight over computer lab times, or who get the laptop cart when. Everything is right there in the classroom.

That's about all the excitement up here on the North Slope. Can't wait to see what next week brings. I may have the opportunity to go to Fairbanks next weekend for a class. I sure hope I can because it's about time to get out for a short while.

Monday, September 15, 2008

All I Know, I Learned From McDonald's

Saturday was the grand opening of our student store, which Janey and I run. Talk about hectic. We had ordered in about 24 cases (24 packs) of a variety of soda, as well as chips, burgers, pizzas, corn dogs, and other delightful snacks. During our four hours open we were able to make over $600.00. I was amazed.

Our opening coincided with the first Saturday Sale of the year. Think of it like a giant yard sale held in the gym. People donated items to sell at the sale to raise money to fund the students trip to AFN, which is the conference for the Alaskan Federation of Natives. Students go every year and it is a pretty big deal. Proceeds from our store also go to help pay for travel. It was great to see the massive amount of community support for these kids.

During the sale, we decided to make hamburgers to sell for $6.00 a plate, a hamburger, chips, pop, and a pickle. I manned the grill since I have so much expertise in that area. I spent four hours flipping burgers and ended up making 60 of them. Apparently I make a pretty good burger, which was a huge relief. It this teaching thing doesn't work out, at least I have a promising future in the food industry.

In addition to these two fundraisers this weekend, the kids going to AFN held a movie night on Sunday. They cooked pizzas and charged admission to the movie. It was a great way to make money, but unfortunately they thought the store should be open too. Janey and I had decided to not open the store because it was Sunday and we deserve a weekend too. What a stupid idea that is, that teachers deserve a day off. I have no clue what I was thinking. Janey had gone to the movie but ended up leaving since kids were pestering her about it the whole time. I completely understand why she would leave. These kids can be relentless. A few hours later, during the second movie of the day, Janey got a call at home. Some of the parents had called the school and demanded that the store be opened. I couldn't believe it. She ended up opening the store just so they would stop bugging her about it. People here have their own way of doing things. It's like dealing with a bunch of five year olds who grew up on the East coast. They always get their way and whine like little brats if they don't, keeping it up until they do.

Our supplies after this weekend: 6 cans of coke, a 24 pack of Sprite, and 4-12 packs of A&W Root Beer, as well as half a box of chips.

Guess I'll have to order more pop next time.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Parent Connections

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking of speaking with the mother of one of my students. She called me at 7:45 on Thursday morning at school to ask me about his homework. She needed help getting through it and I was happy to help. I thought that it was great that she was sitting down with her son to help him with his math work.

Later that day, after school, I was called down to the office again for a phone call. It was the same student's mother again. She was asking about a different homework assignment, this one for grammar. The directions specifically point out to "combine the two sentences into one sentence with a compound subject." She had no clue how to do it. I walked her through the steps necessary to write the sentences for the assignment and told her I was happy to help.

I think it's going to be a long year.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Visit

For only the second time in eleven years, the superintendent visited our village. It seems pretty amazing since I came from a school where he was only a floor away. Mr. Blankenship is a very nice guy and he brought us some fresh fruit, which is a sure fire way to get on my good side. He even made the teachers dinner Wednesday night.

Unfortunately for me, my class can be quite rowdy some days and Wednesday was definitely one of those days. As the superintendent walked through the school, he stopped in many of the teachers' classrooms. When he came to my door I was just about to go off on my students for not paying any attention to what I was saying. Luckily, I hadn't quite started yet and as he walked in I gave him a kind of "deer in the headlights" look. What can I say, I'm a master at making good first impressions. He only stayed for a few minutes, managing to get the students completely off task and then left. I couldn't be any more glad to see him go.

After his little visit the day did improve, which I was most thankful for. Although, I did end up staying at school until well after 7:00 p.m. Considering I get to school at 6:30 a.m. every day, it made for a long day. At least I won't have to worry about another visit from the superintendent for at least another five or six years.

Monday, September 8, 2008

It's Coming!

Yesterday I got the urge to do some physical activity. Crazy, huh? Jennifer and I went for a walk at around 11:00 a.m. As we stepped outside, I noticed the smell. You know the smell when you're outside and it's just about to snow. That dry, winter smell. Not only did I notice the smell, but for the first time I could see my breath in the middle of the day.

We've also lost about 2 hours of daylight in the last 2 weeks. I arrived in my classroom at 6:20 this morning and positioned myself in front of the window to try to see when the sun would rise. It's now 9:00 a.m. and it's still a little dusky out. Also, it gets really dark finally. When I arrived in the village we had nearly 23 hours of straight daylight. Now it gets dark by 11:00 p.m.

This darkness doesn't stop the children though. Parents bundle up their kids and shove them outside to play all day long. At 10:00 last night they were still running around. Some were even fashioning ladders out of pieces of metal they had found to try to peak into one of the male teachers apartments. My roommate had to lean out her window and yell at them twice before they got the hint. Best part of it all, they were all my students. The little darlings.

Beyond the darkness, there's no real other news from the tundra. This weekend was quite relaxing despite the fact that we couldn't contact the outside world for four days due to our internet being down. Thanks to that, I spent the weekend curled up in my chair, reading, cross-stitching, and watching the entire sixth season of Gilmore Girls. I feel like that's how I'm going to spend most of my weekends from now on.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My First Real Tundra Experience

Last weekend marked the first three day weekend of the school year. My roommate's boyfriend Buddy came up to restock our supplies of food and do some hunting and fishing. A typical weekend for Jennifer, my roommate, and I consists of working on a jigsaw puzzle that has consumed our kitchen table, watching movies, working at school, and cross stitching like an 80 year old. This weekend was a welcome change.

Buddy came up, armed with rifle and fishing poles, to set out on a caribou hunt and to fish for some grayling. Unfortunately, he did not catch any fish, but he did manage to shoot a female caribou. We were able to get about 60 pounds of meat from it and also to pack our freezer full of good food. Caribou is an extremely lean meat and is absolutely delicious. It was a good thing Buddy is an avid hunter and could cut it all up and pack it for us. The puzzle table was taken over and soon we had bloody chunks of caribou all around the kitchen. That was quite a sight to see for me. I've never gone hunting in my life.

Later that night we decided to head back out to the tundra to see if we could shoot a male caribou. We saw some once we had walked a few miles out, but they got scared by something in the distance, probably a wolverine, and took off running. It was a beautiful walk though and I was able to see the coal mine and get a closer look at the streams running into the river, as well as some nice pictures.

On Sunday, we had a dinner of roast caribou, made in the crock pot with onions, carrots, and potatoes. It was so good, especially after eating nothing but stuff I pull out of the freezer for the last month. We invited a few of the other teachers over and had a great time. We usually try to get together with these other teachers at least once a weekend for cards. This time we even played Sing Star Rocks on my Playstation. It's kind of like a karaoke game, but absolutely hilarious. I'm eternally greatful to have these people here because they are making it completely worth being stuck away in this corner of Alaska. Nothing like total seclusion to bring people together.