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Major in Elementary Education, Minor in Studio Art
During her time at Knox, Katy was incredibly involved. She was a member of the women's soccer and softball teams and was recognized numerous times for her photography, which appeared in The Knox Student. Now, she teaches at Chief Paul Memorial School, a dual-language school that, according to its website, promotes “instruction in the native Yup'ik language of Yugtun, adherence to traditional Yup'ik values, and prepares students to take their places as leaders of the 21st century.”
How did you find out about this opportunity and decide to take it?
I found this opportunity through Handshake [a career platform available through the Bastian Family Center for Career Success]. I first saw an informational session in October of 2020, so I was able to learn more about the school district. After that, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me. This school district really jumped out to me because of what they were offering: amazing technology in the classroom, lots of professional development, small class sizes, and a welcoming village.
Before I decided to take this job, I had a conversation with the principal about bringing soccer up to Kipnuk, Alaska. They did not have soccer up here, but she suggested and encouraged me to start a soccer program. She said she would get all the necessary equipment for me to start a soccer program. At that point, I knew I wanted to take this job.
Have you ever been to Alaska before? What is it like to live there?
I have never been to Alaska before this year, but I have always wanted to visit. I arrived in Anchorage, Alaska, at the end of July, and it was beautiful weather. It was sunny and 70 degrees. It was a little weird how the sun did not go down until midnight!
After a week in Anchorage, I traveled to my village. Because we are on the tundra here, the whole village is on a boardwalk which is 10 miles in total. The village is bigger than I thought it was going to be. I live in teacher housing, which is a two-bedroom apartment. My commute to school is about 50 feet! The community here is so welcoming. I have been given two salmon and some moose meat from families in the village—one of the salmon I had to fillet all by myself, which was so fun to do. My roommate, who is a second-grade teacher, and I made a moose meatloaf, which was insanely good. I have gone berry picking and made akutaq, which is a delicacy of the native indigenous people of Alaska.
Do you have any advice for current students looking to follow a career path similar to yours?
Learn as much as you can from your instructors and from teachers and students during student teaching. Be patient. Becoming a competent teacher takes time. It’s an exhausting but exhilarating profession. You will become a better person. You will be preparing your students for the future. Be caring and patient even to that very challenging student; often, this is the student who needs you the most. You will love your students, and they will love you.
What has been your favorite part of this experience?
Getting to learn from the people in the village. From my first-graders to the elders, I have been learning so much. From learning new words in Yup’ik to throwing parties to berry picking to learning about the history of the village and the school, it has been so fun learning something new every day.
What would you say has been your biggest takeaway? What have you learned?
My biggest takeaway is having an open mind when learning about the village and its culture. Thanks to Knox, I learned to have an open mind because of the diversity at our school.
Teaching-wise, I have learned that it is so important to lean on my colleagues for help. They have been so helpful with providing ideas I would not have thought of. Being a first-year teacher, I know I still have a lot to learn, but I am excited about this journey.
At Knox, you participated in many extracurricular and athletic activities. How did those—and perhaps other activities—prepare you for what you're doing now?
Being involved at Knox has helped me immensely. At Knox, I learned to balance my extracurricular activities, sports, and being a full-time student. And I am having to do that in the classroom this year. Currently, I am taking nine college credits to get my certification for next year, so I am continuing to balance taking classes and teaching.