“The only journey is the one within.”
–Rainer Maria Rilke
Welcome to Alaska… moving to teach in a small village started as a one-year adventure, but became thirty-three years of my life. It shaped who I became and changed me deeply.

Many of these blog entries are from the book, Life at Fifty Below Zero.
Other posts are added reflections about life in Alaska.

Experiencing Alaska

then and now
Going up the ALCAN, Summer of 1972

Moving to Alaska to teach in a small village sounded so simple when we said yes. It was 1972.

We were young, full of dreams and a desire to live simply. We had no idea what that meant in rural Alaska.

Dog Mushing Along the Yukon, February 1973

Dog mushing was popular in many villages, but not all. Transportation was being replaced by ‘iron dogs’, better known as snow machines or snow mobiles.

They could be ordered by barge or airplane. The most widely used term in Alaska is snow machine.

Floating down the Yukon, August 1973

Things can change quickly in rural Alaska. If we were in most school districts throughout the nation this wouldn’t happen. If we were in a city there would be other job opportunities, but we were in a small rural village a week before school started.

Reflections on the Journey

so many paths I never planned

Life was so different, Fall 1972
Life has many paths, roads, directions that can provide us different options to select from. I never planned to go to Alaska, and certainly didn’t plan to live there. After, thirty-three years I can certainly say it impacted me in ways that I am still learning about.
Walkers, Cold, and my Baby, Spring 1974
Life has a way of surprising us and challenging us in ways we would rather not face.” What you learn and how you handle the new information can assist in making you stronger, increase a sense of humbleness, and lead to a deeper level of confidence. Or it can break you.
Fun Times Catching a Plane, June 1975
Rough times were balanced with many fun adventures. Alaska is full of majestic vistas, unbelievable clean waterways, and adventuresome people.

Teaching & Learning

so many paths I never planned

Fall of 1972

While working with schools in Alaska I always felt I learned, as much, if not more than I taught.

I enjoyed walking around the village after my work was finished, talking to people, asking questions, and observing. These reflective moments provided ideas and resources I utilized in the work I did in the schools.

Snapshot of Alaska Rural Education
Many things were changing in Alaska when we arrived. And yet, students in rural communities could only go to school through eighth grade. Despite the fact Alaska had been a state for thirteen years there were almost no high schools available to families in bush villages.

Responsibility and Surprises, Fall of 1974

Learning often begins with the teacher, but so much more can develop when teachers and students work together as a team.

The experiences students bring to the learning process results in both the teacher and students learning. Teachers are able to expand their knowledge base and students feel respected.