4 March, 2002
The school on Little Diomede is a public school in the Bering Strait Unified School District. It is known throughout Alaska as a "bush" school because it's location is extremely remote, perhaps the most remote of any of the bush schools in the school district. Diomede's location in the Bering Strait makes accessibility an issue. The teachers who work in the school come here knowing that everything from telephone access to the availability of mail and groceries will be very much effected and determined by weather and the arctic conditions. There are no restaurants or hotels, the only store is the Native Store, and the housing options are either living in your classroom or renting half of a two bedroom apartment from the School District.
Living and working in a bush school means assuming an active role in a community with a very different culture, where you are never really off duty. The opportunity to live and teach in such a small community has many wonderful benefits but it definitely requires an adventurous spirit and tremendous commitment. That said, the opportunity to live and work in a small, arctic community draws teachers from across the states, many of whom have had dreams of coming to Alaska for years. This school year, the teaching staff is made up entirely of women, each of whom brings a unique set of interests and life experiences.
Linda Gies came to Little Diomede from Montana to teach Kindergarten and to fulfill a long dream of living and working in Alaska. She is an amazing teacher, who has found a way to balance the curriculum with the unique experiences and interests of her Inupiat students. Linda readily welcomed me into her classroom time and time again and helped begin to create a connection between our two communities and groups of students.
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