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Teaching with Large Family

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:53 am
by sbrady
Hi there,

I did some searching and found some relative posts but thought I would make a new one for my situation. I am in the last push of my senior year and start my student teaching this August. For the past few years I have been coming to this forum and reading about teaching and living in Alaska and I can't seem to shake the feeling that this is what I want to do for at least a few years after graduation.

Of course life happens and our family has gotten pretty big...we have four kids. I have read conflicting things about teaching up there with a big family. I have read that it may be hard to accommodate so many people, or that the kids will have a hard time fitting in, etc. My question is this...should I even try applying next spring or will my family situation be a huge road block?

I do want to add that we are a pretty adventurous group...we have moved around A LOT due to my husband being in the military and have lived in some pretty culturally different places so I feel that we are at least a little prepared for something like this. Of course nobody can be 100%. I would just like to know now if applying is worth it before I get too excited.

This forum has been such a wealth of information and thanks in advance for your response.

Re: Teaching with Large Family

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:45 pm
by Johncn

You don't say if your spouse is still in the military, or will be needing a job, too. Those are critical factors, as only the road system (or state ferry system) towns would be near any base.

If you need housing for six, (4 kids + 2 adults), you will be challenged in some locations. It's impossible to tell which ones, exactly. Some districts would struggle, but others may really welcome a family such as yours because the increase of ADM (funding units for schools in Alaska) in many rural locations would more than pay for the salary of a teacher, or even make the difference in whether or not a small school could stay open for that school year. Honestly.

The minimum ADM (average daily membership) for school to keep it open is 10 students from K-12 (preschool is not funded in Alaska). Schools with small numbers are usually multigrade schools with one or two teachers. Without that critical number, many small schools have closed since the number was raised from 8 students in spring of 1998. The Alaska Department of Education (EED or DEED) has closed 16 small schools between SB 36 coming out, and the beginning of the 2004-05 school year. Since then, according to my notes, an additional 10 or so additional small schools have closed. Once they close, the communities can almost never open them back up, as the families with school age children leave. So, some districts may really enjoy finding a large-ish family such as yours.

In other districts, however, the available housing that the district has built or purchased determines who they can hire and house, as the union contract they have with teachers includes wording requiring that district to be the landlord. They have to house who they hire. BSSD, for instance, has almost all two-bedroom housing units because that is what they built. There are a handful of three bedroom units (2 or 3?) in 15 sites, and nothing larger so far as I know. That means that if a married couple is hired, it's tough (but not impossible) to consider families with more two children. Depending on the ages and genders of the children, it can be tough for teacher we hire to have more than one child. And, it also means that we have many teachers who were hired as singles who need to share a two-bedroom apartment with another teacher of the same gender.

As far as being accepted, that varies greatly by community, and the personalities involved.

My usual advice is to seek the best districts for a professional fit for you. The other stuff is not "knowable" in advance. You'll have to make some guesses, but make the professional fit the key, and then if you get close to an offer with a district, let them know your personal situation. They will likely probe a little, or ask outright anyway. They need to make sure you are happy. Both the housing and the acceptance of your children would fit in that category. And, if a rural district, they will need to know your housing needs in order to consider you seriously as a candidate.

Hope this helps, and I am sure others will point out exceptions. That's why a diversity of opinions and perspectives is useful. ;-)



Re: Teaching with Large Family

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:16 pm
by sbrady

Thanks so much for your timely and informative response. My husband is no longer in the military, he was honorably discharged after serving as a hospital corpsman in the Middle East. That being said, he has been the stay at home dad since he left the military and I have worked outside the home. Works out well for our situation since daycare costs for 4 kiddos would be astronomical! We would assume the same sort of situation if we were to make the move to Alaska. I am looking at the Bush more than the road system as I feel it would fit our family lifestyle a bit better.

That is pretty interesting stuff about the minimum ADM and makes sense. Timing wise, 2 of the kids would be enrolled in school. I would have a three year old on the cusp of preschool so he wouldn't count. As far as housing goes, I had figured that would be the response I would depends on the district :D I would of course make sure that it was addressed during the interview process; while we are ok with a three bedroom I think squeezing 6 people into a two bedroom might get a bit tight.

I guess by your response that the interviews that are given at the job fairs are a bit more "in depth" than your typical job interview that asks, "where do you see yourself in 5 years?" It's good to know that the districts are thorough in making sure you are a good fit for their communities. Again, I really appreciate such a great response and I will use the next 8 months until I graduate doing my research so I can come to the job fair next year fully prepared.

Have a great weekend!

Re: Teaching with Large Family

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:21 am
by Darla Grediagin

I have known people with large families to be the reason that a school could stay open. For the right place, you and your family may be the perfect fit.

Good luck