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Friday, January 13, 2012

The Little Things

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The smallest things in life can sometimes be the sweetest. Thursday of this week I flew to Scammon Bay with a quick stop in Hooper Bay. Flying over Chevak in the still quiet of the morning was beautiful beyond words. The solemn peace of the open tundra, covered in snow, for miles in all directions made the hour or so in the air more like a flight-seeing tour than a commute to work. Continuing on to Scammon Bay, located on the coast of western Alaska along the Bering Sea, I felt my heart race and spirits lift with the rising sun. This is how I go to work. This is my world. These are the small things. 

            Upon arrival we unloaded the plane into sleds pulled by school snow machines. The roads here are not plowed, you see, and the only transport viable between October and May is a four-wheeler or “snowgo.” Instead of hopping in the sled with the freight, we strolled the half-mile or so up to the school. The wind here was minimal (rare on the coast where gale-force winds are a regular occurrence) so the -20 temperatures were nearly comfortable (only in Alaska will you ever hear this said).  The school was well kept and I could tell the staff was concerned about its upkeep more than the average community. I was greeted warmly by everyone from the custodian to the instructional leader and took advantage a tasty hot meal from the cafeteria. Ah, the small things…

After meeting with the teachers, introductions, and brief chats, I settled into checking and troubleshooting some of the hardware. I enjoy the technology and working with my hands, of course, but I really cherish my time with teachers and students. Luckily, two teachers indulged me. The first was a quick lesson on basketball techniques: shooting, layups, and a jump shot. Great kids, all of them, but one little girl had some serious skill. Watching her kiss the ball, dribble, and maintain a form I didn’t think possible with tiny eight-year-old arms was really something special. Goofing off in the gym was fun, but I had an appointment with another teacher with special needs children.
We fired up the SMART Board and began with a math lesson on acute and obtuse angles along with shapes and vocabulary. The students were anxious to get up and use the board, eager to please and ready to show off. You’ve got to love sixth graders. After a bit of practice, they were comfortable enough for their teacher and I to step away and chat, which is funny because in a professional development setting these concepts would have required 10 minutes for a group of teachers to master. Wanting to do more, I then taught the kids to create sounds in GarageBand and attach sounds to objects in a presentation. The subject was one they knew well I wanted to learn: water fowl calls.
Wrapping up the day I cozied up in the library, which has a couch for me to sleep on, for dinner and a movie. But not before the day’s biggest treat: the weight room! The little things...