A Few Questions

This is the new version of the Alaska Teacher Placement (ATP) forum for teachers, education majors, and school administrators to discuss working and living in the state of Alaska. Those considering an Alaskan job, or considering a new Alaskan education job ask questions, and those with information and/or opinions provide answers. Although many users are teacher or principal candidates from the Lower 48, a large number of current and former school district HR and school administrators subscribe.

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A Few Questions

Postby sbrady » Sat Oct 17, 2015 6:05 am

Hi all. My dream to teach in Alaska was pushed off a few years when I accepted a job as an elementary teacher in Las Vegas! After almost two years here in the desert, I am gearing up for the 2016 hiring season and have a few questions...

First, I have already received my initial one year Alaska teaching license, I actually have to send in the info for an extension by December of this year. No big deal but I am curious about those 6 credits I have to take. Will they have to be done before the first extension is up in December 2016 or will I have two years to do them? Second, if they are supposed to be finished by the end of next year, should I just enroll and knock them out now or wait to see if the district I (hopefully!) get hired by this spring will help cover the cost. They are expensive!

Secondly, I am hoping to attend the job fair in Anchorage. If not Anchorage then definitely Seattle. I also want to have my application available for districts to view and consider before the job fairs. Is it unheard of for people to get calls for interviews and job offers before the job fairs? Say in February? A part of me wouldn't mind saving the money on tickets and hotel room, but I would love to see the Anchorage area as well.

That should be it for now. I am just keeping an eye on flights from Vegas to Anchorage and getting my application in Applitrack fine tuned for now :) Thanks in advance for your advice!
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Re: A Few Questions

Postby Bushteachers » Sat Oct 17, 2015 2:51 pm

You have two years to complete the two required classes. Not sure if a district would reimburse you or not, I'd personally wait until I knew for a fact I was coming up. We finished both classes in less than 6 months so they can be finished fairly quickly if needed. Of that 6 months, two were summer break, so we had end of school year, summer break and start of school year to contend with. Just work on it a little at a time.

As far as when you can get hired? We were offered our first set of contracts well after the job fair and our second set before the job fair. We've never attended a job fair. We even had two districts advise us not to attend since we could do everything over the phone or via skype.
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Re: A Few Questions

Postby ksralaska » Thu Oct 22, 2015 3:46 pm

Hi sbrady,

One of the things I highly recommend is to think about what teaching here is like. Not at all to say that this is you, but a lot of people I've heard about come up to Alaska to teach because "it's an adventure." From what I hear they do not last long, which is hard on them, the district, and most of all the kids.

That said, some people move up here from the lower 48 and absolutely love it. Just keep that in mind before you sign up with, say, a rural district (which is often the case at job fairs). Some principals have told me "one year is better than no years" but I feel that you should find a community you can put years into and really make a difference with the kids.

My advice is to talk firsthand with some of the folks here once you get a good idea where you might be. I'd also highly encourage you to come up to Anchorage for the job fair, and drive around the state and see what you see. The road system is a lot different than off of it, but it's something that you probably won't regret even when you don't get a job, and if no one offers you a position before then, I suspect that it'll mean a lot more to have you there in person.

Just my thoughts. Keep in mind I'm a new teacher (though have lived almost all my life in AK).

Keane Richards
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Re: A Few Questions

Postby marymatt718 » Sat Oct 24, 2015 2:39 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with ksralaska. It is SO hard on the students when there is so much turnover. I am in my third year here in Togiak, and I see the impact on the kids, especially at the elementary level, when they get attached to a teacher, only to find out the next year that they didn't come back. It broke my heart this year to hear one little boy calling up to an open window where a favorite teacher had lived the year before..."Mr. O isn't here, Baba." "When is he coming home?" " He moved away. He's not a teacher here anymore." The little guy burst into tears. If you're only coming for one year, please go break hearts elsewhere ...in another state.

Teachers come for all sorts of reasons, and leave for just as many. I do find, in my village, however, that it is most often what they left behind that makes them leave. If you have a close or cohabiting relationship with a BF,GF, or fiancee, think twice about coming here. That is the NUMBER ONE reason teachers leave my school. It is a long way from the lower 48, and travel at Christmas can be difficult due to the weather, so it is possible to be away from each other for 10 months. Skype is possible, if the internet isn't being wonky from the weather, and you can call on your (GCI only) cellphone if you don't mind your calls being dropped 7 or 8 times during your 15 minute call due to the weather.

Good luck, and keep an open mind.
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Re: A Few Questions

Postby sbrady » Sun Oct 25, 2015 2:02 pm

I appreciate the feedback. It's been very helpful.

A little background on me: I am an ex military wife that has lived in many different and interesting places. I have an very stable marriage with four beautiful kids, three who are school aged. We will be coming as a family :) I have been researching Alaska since before I decided to become a teacher, so for about seven years now. Of course, I haven't experienced it first hand but I feel as though I have been very diligent in my research.

My husband and I have a goal to find a working and living situation that will work for at least three years, but hopefully five or more. I wouldn't dream of coming to teach somewhere just to break a child's heart.

I hope that I am not coming off as defensive but I am just trying to reassure that I am not jumping into something blindfolded. This is, and always will be, a decision that I will make with my eyes wide open, committed to the community that I end up working with.

On my original question, I was able to get my PRAXIS test passed and everything squared away for my license to be extended. We will likely go to Anchorage for the job fair. Have a great evening and start to your week!
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Re: A Few Questions

Postby marymatt718 » Sun Oct 25, 2015 6:27 pm

sbrady,
My apologies if I offended you. I just see it so often. In truth, I was speaking to all newbies out there, hoping to dim the luster of the stars in their eyes when they hear the word "Alaska."

For you and your family, I highly recommend you look at AEBSD, especially Sand Point. A friend of mine went there last year and LOVES it. There is teacher housing for family units such as yours, singles and couples have to find alternatives. It is one plane ride from Anchorage, and is on the ferry system as well. You will need a car, as there's about 20 miles of roads on the island, but you can take it with you on the ferry, rather than having to barge it in, though that is also an option.

There are NO LARGE PREDATORS on the island, so you can take your family and explore to your heart's content. He and his wife have sent me photos of Sand Point, and the place us GORGEOUS. His principal is awesome, as he tells it, and supports his staff, but he is demanding...fair but demanding.

Good luck!
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