Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back to school 2.0

Here we go... heading into our second year of teaching/working at ACC and living in Alaska. We are officially back into the fall swing of things!

Right before the students arrived for the fall semester a group of staff from ACC spent an evening together on a dinner cruise outside of Seward, AK. The school gets an amazing discount with the cruise company so we organized a trip for some great team-building time together. The trip originally was scheduled for the end of July, however a rolled truck on the one-lane highway between Soldotna and Seward caused us to miss the boat! So we tried again, this time on August 7, Steve's and my 10th wedding anniversary. What a fun trip! The weather was terrible- cold, foggy and rainy. It was difficult to see any of the wildlife, and freezing cold, but because of the great group of people that we were with, it was a blast. At one point the captain said "It seems we have a small swell headed our way, you may want to head inside" after which we were blasted with torrential rain and large waves. Praise God for Dramamine! The kids, of course, thought this was a great adventure, and could not imagine watching it through the boat windows. So Steve and a few other gutsy parents braved the storm above deck with an arm around each kiddo. We didn't dry out entirely until the next day, hours after returning home.

This is an old boat ramp that was destroyed after being hit by a massive tidal wave caused by the Good Friday earthquake of 1964.

After spending a few minutes above deck
Our whole group
 Our kids started school the week before our ACC students arrived on campus. Here in AK they don't have "Meet the Teacher Night" where you find out who your teacher is and get to see your classroom until the night before the first day of school. The kiddos were thrilled to learn that they both got the teachers they were hoping for.

Grace with her 3rd grade teacher in the background (she's had great male teachers two years in a row now).

Noah in his new 1st grade classroom
 It has taken us a couple of weeks to adjust to waking up early again for school, but we are finally getting the hang of it. The kids were a bit bleary eyed in their first day of school picture because of the late "Meet the Teacher Night" the night before.

A week ago our students arrived back on campus. This is always such an exciting time, and we are never ready at all until minutes before they arrive. With several staff and office changes there was furniture and office supplies strewn everywhere. I was sure we would not have things pulled together in time, but somehow we managed. :) 

The first weekend the students come, Student Life plans a bunch of orientation events to get them acclimated to our city, and each other. Many of our students have never lived outside of their home towns/villages, so it can be an overwhelming time. The night after they arrived we had a progressive dinner where the students all (or the 60 of them that had arrived at that point) traveled from one staff member's house to the next for each course of their meal. We hosted dessert at our house, which was a really great time to get to meet all of the new students. Fortunately they came in three groups, spaced out over a few hours, so they were all able to fit in our house. We have some new Resident Supervisors this year, and one of them is still learning how to drive our large vans. I received a text from the staff house before ours on the roster that said "Group one on time, group two in a ditch." Fortunately, this is Alaska, so everyone has a truck with a towing hitch attached and they were quickly pulled out. Although the RS who backed it in (and shall remain nameless) may never live the experience down with our students!

Noah talked several of the students into playing some "Hoopskies" (his term for basketball) with him
 The morning after the progressive dinner most of the students and quite a few staff members hiked the Russian River trail. The fish were working hard to make their way up the falls, and the water was so thick with them that students and staff were literally pulling them out with their hands.

About half of the group that hiked the Russian River trail
 The kids love receiving mail! Because it can be hard to find many items here, they have learned that we often have packages waiting with fun (or necessary) things inside. We had a great time after receiving "Flat Stanley" in the mail last week. We showed him around our town, explained things like fireweed and fishing to him, and then sent him on his way back to AZ. If you ever want to send a card or picture or letter, the kids would absolutely love it! Email or message me for our address, we will send you a postcard from AK back. :)

Noah has continued to train hard at hockey. He is trying very hard to get ready for the fall season which begins in October. Our latest training method came from Salvation Army for $6- now we just have to find another pair of rollerblades for Grace. Apparently no store in Kenai or Soldotna carries them, so unless you order them online, drive to Anchorage, or find them at a thrift store, you are out of luck. For now they are sharing this pair, and having a blast. Fairly soon it will be too snowy to skate outside, and we will have to back the cars out of the garage for them to practice.

Steve and I are both loving our jobs this semester. I accepted the position of Director of Learning Resources and Registrar at ACC. This position puts me in charge of the library, which I absolutely love. Working with our students on their information literacy skills has always been a goal of mine, and now it is my job! 

Steve is teaching three math courses at ACC as well as Old Testament. He is also teaching Statistics and Pre-Algebra at Kenai Peninsula College. We have a great group of students this year! I am really looking forward to seeing them learn and develop as college students through this coming semester and year. 

ACC is bursting at the seams, we have over 70 students this year. We are out of space in the dorms and are having to house students in some of the duplex and triplex apartments formally used for staff on campus. We have several classes that are above capacity, and we are running multiple independent studies to accommodate all of our students and their academic needs.  What an exciting time to be involved with what God is doing here- thanks for keeping up with us here in the Great White North!