Friday, August 5, 2011

First Impressions

It's amazing how two districts can be so different.

So far, I am super impressed by NSBSD.  They seem to generally have their act together.  More than that though, they aren't so enamored with themselves that they forget to be normal people.

I'm not saying *my last Alaska district, which I won't say but you could figure out* didn't have its advantages.  *My Last Alaska District, code-named MLAD* functions under a completely different (and far more superior) technology paradigm than the North Slope, and their district library system is more thorough.

That's about it, though.  North Slope beats them in every other category.

First off, let's just address the money issue.  The pay with NSBSD is better, for both salary and added duties.

The housing is better.

The administration is better, at least in my village.  I absolutely ADORE my principal!  She isn't afraid to say her mind, and she sticks up for her staff.  She doesn't drink the district brainwashing juice (so to speak).  I am so terrifically lucky this year!  It will be a dream to have a principal that is supportive and NORMAL.

And honestly, the attitude is better.  I have not heard anybody ONCE utter the phrase 'You just have to understand.  This is the BUSH.'  (translation:  Things are screwed up.  Accept it because we're too lazy to do anything about it.)  I probably heard that phrase twice a day with MLAD.

There aren't excuses here, and I like that.

There are quite a few MLAD transplants on the Slope this year.  I think that speaks volumes.

I like the people I've met.  Well, for the most part.  The hiring for this year was a bit unfortunate for me personally, as the district exclusively hired people with bush Alaska experience.  I'm the only single female new hire, and one of the few on the Slope.  I also appear to be the youngest . . . the average new hire age was somewhere around 45 years old.  There are a few young couples that I enjoy; Devin and Colby in Point Lay are two of my favorite people on the Slope thus far.  Let me sum all that up for you:  there is not a single male teacher in sight.  *sigh*

The Prudhoe Bay workers would find my dilemma hilarious and terribly ironic.

Really, the biggest downside is that NSBSD blocks Facebook.  I feel like there must be a workaround, but I find the whole thing a bit insulting.  They say it is a 'security' issue, though if you ask another time they might tell you it is a 'FERPA' issue or a 'bandwidth' issue. Really it's a 'trust' issue; they don't trust us not to Facebook during the workday.  It is a power play that I find distasteful.  I am determined to find a way around it.

Anyway, that's it for today.  There won't be many pictures to post during the next two days.  I just sit on a metal folding chair all day and watch powerpoint presentations . . . trust me, you aren't missing anything.

Monday, August 1, 2011

To Barrow We Will Go

I spent a *short* day in Atqasuk, and then NSBSD yanked me out of the village.  I had just enough time to figure out what I needed to do . . . but not enough time to do any of it.

Now I'm in Barrow for a TEN DAY New Hire Inservice.  They better have something thrilling and groundbreaking to present; ten days is an awful long time!  Luckily, they are paying us per diem so I should earn a little over $2000 for this trip to Barrow.  I'll take it.

A little Caravan bush plane came to pick a few of us up in Atqasuk, and we flew a whole 20 minutes back to Barrow.

(Actually, none of the seats in this plane are from the original caravan.  They have cannibalized a couple of older planes to outfit the inside of this one.   This card is essentially useless.)

(Our friendly Era pilot.  No co-pilot is assigned to a bush plane this small.)

(Usually, they throw in 5-6 seats and use the back area for mail/cargo.  Nothing to go out of ATQ this time, though.)

 The district is putting us up in a hotel, can you believe it?  BSSD would have us on classroom floors and showering together in public locker rooms.  No lie.  NSBSD is paying for us to stay at The Top of the World hotel for 9 days.  Are you curious how much that costs?  I took a picture of the receipt.  

No, you're not reading that wrong.  It cost NSBSD over $2000 in lodging just for me during this inservice.  Plus the $2000 they are paying me to work during this time.  Plus all the food expenses.  You can start breathing again.  I know. I know.  (Multiply that times 50 new teachers . . . repeat after me: oil money.)

Mercifully, there was nothing planned for us today.  Shannon and I went the fur shop to see what they had in stock . . . and got sucked in to a few major purchases.  :-)  I was wanting a new ruff for my parka anyway, and they had some gorgeous furs in their store!!  I bought an entire arctic fox fur pelt for my red parka.  The face is even still attached, whiskers and all!  It is mostly white with some black tipping (the season was probably changing when it was caught).  Shannon bought two chocolate arctic fox pelts since she is having a traditional parka made in the village for her . . . I won't even tell you how much that cost.  It's more than you think.  

(It's so SOFT!  I couldn't wait to try it out!)

We dropped the furs off at our hotel room, and then walked 20 feet to the northernmost Mexican restaurant in the world.  :)  Dinner at Pepe's North of the Border Restaurant is too good a bragging right to pass up!

(Yes, that is an Eskimo in traditional Mexican dress.)

If I didn't know any better, I would have thought I was back in Oklahoma!  Well, except that my Dr. Pepper cost $3 and was brought out in a can.  No refills here, I guess.  In summation: the food was good, the prices were insane, and the experience was priceless.  

Inservice starts tomorrow, bright and early.  I have no idea what to expect, except that this inservice will be WAY different than my Arkansas inservice would have been!