Scott Brucker - Minto School, Minto
I came from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2010 to teach in Alaska. I spent two years teaching in Venetie as a 2nd-3rd grade teacher before becoming a special education teacher with YKSD in Minto, AK. I’ve been here for the past 5 years.
I knew nothing about Alaska and shared no real interest in it other than the idea that it sounded crazy and it was something none of my friends back on the east coast were doing. I was treating it more like a 1 year working vacation, which would provide wild stories to share with friends and family when I returned. Little did I know I'd be here forever!
I enjoy working in YKSD because of the personal relationships I develop with students, community, and staff by living among them. We are always around one another in the small village environment. The independence and freedom offered in small school settings allows me to always try new things.
Coming from Pittsburgh my hobbies didn't necessarily match up with what Alaska had to offer so I developed new hobbies in endurance sports; running (Marathons), cycling (Mountain, touring, road, fat bike), cross county skiing and snowshoeing, I also enjoy snow machining, backpacking, canoeing, pike fishing, and playing basketball in the village.
Sara Titus, Elementary Teacher - Merreline A. Kangas School, Ruby
I grew up in an Air Force family and moved all around the country. I've lived in Alaska for about 12 years. I graduated both high school and college in Fairbanks. When I married my husband, I also married the community of Ruby and now call it "home".
My school day is split between two classrooms. My mornings are spent in the 3rd-5th graders teaching reading and writing. After lunch, I move to the primary room, teaching math and social studies/science to PreK-1st graders. I love working in two classrooms because I get to teach a wider range of students and can collaborate with my co-workers who work with the same students.
Living in Alaska has shaped my hobbies and interests quite a bit. In the summers, my husband and I take several road trips around the state, camping, fishing, and hiking. We also enjoy riding out the road in Ruby on the 4-wheelers. When the weather gets a little cooler, I make sure to go cranberry and blueberry picking. In the winters, my husband and I will take the snow machines out for rides, or simply walk the dogs in the snow. It's harder to get out in the winters, but we try to take advantage of the little daylight we have and get some fresh air. At home, I enjoy beading various projects, reading, and having movie nights with the family.
Over these four years, I've had many professional development opportunities, in and out of state, provided by the district. I've been able to meet many of the other teachers and have gotten to know several on a personal level. It's nice to know that there are teachers in other schools around the Yukon that I can reach out to when I need support. I've always felt supported by the staff in the district office, as well. They reach out to the teachers so that we know they're available when we need them.
Alaska is a beautiful place, but in order to truly understand real Alaska culture, you need to step out of your comfort zone and experience rural Alaska. The communities are welcoming and grateful for teachers who are there to love and support their children. You'll learn new skills and values that you can only learn from living in rural Alaska. The more you reach out, the more they'll take you in and you'll soon call rural Alaska your home, too!
Annette Moses, Elementary Teacher - Jimmy Huntington School, Huslia
I am from the village of Huslia (pop. 330) about 390 miles Northwest of Fairbanks. I grew up living a subsistence lifestyle, following our Athabascan culture and that is how I raised my 6 children. Becoming a teacher has been my dream ever since I could remember and my ultimate dream was to teach in my hometown and give back to my community after they helped me all my life. I enjoy taking rides into the country around Huslia, we live near the Purcell Mountains, Hot Springs, and other beautiful scenery. In the winter months we travel by snow-machine to hunt, haul wood, and go to other villages. I also enjoy sewing with beads and fur, reading books, going to fish camp in the summer, and every once in a while going to winter camp. One day I wish to learn how to trap beaver and tan the skin to use for sewing.
Here at Jimmy Huntington School, where I attended and graduated from, I now teach 2nd and 3rd graders and taught Kindergarten for 8 years. I tell my students, “I care about you, where you are going in life, and I am invested in you. I am not here for the job or money, I am here because I want to help you succeed and accomplish your goals in life.”
When I started working for Yukon-Koyukuk School District (YKSD) in 2008 that was the start of my dream. YKSD has been there to support me in every way possible. The teacher housing in YKSD is up to standards and are well maintained. I have traveled to a few other sites and they are great also. They provide you with internet access, water/sewer, heat and electricity. The support staff are quick to help with anything from teacher housing to sending out groceries to us here.
My advice to teachers who want to teach in Alaska’s rural village is you have get out into the community, interact with community members and you have to love teaching. Living in the village is not just about the adventure, it’s also about becoming someone who can contribute positively to the community. We have our challenges living in a rural village, but if you ever need anything someone will always help. You are never alone here.