As July drew to a close, I began to feel a sense of unease about returning to Nunap. The past school year had not exactly been easy; I had several students with severe temper issues, and multiple members of the staff, myself included, had issues with other members of the staff. I especially had issues with our principal and our dean of students, often feeling unsupported by them when it came to dealing with the myriad of student concerns I had. On top of that, I felt like I had only just barely adjusted to living in the middle of nowhere, and dreaded returning there after a summer of being able to go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. Add in tension about all of the new teachers and the fact that my own imagination kept running a scenario where I had the same class as last year, and it’s not hard to see that I felt a little anxious as my departure neared.
Thankfully, I can now look back on those worries and laugh. I’m still teaching third grade, and compared to last year’s group this class’s behavior is a walk in the park. (There are five more of them than I anticipated, but that’s another story….) In contrast to last year, I no longer feel unsupported by the school administration; the new principal, Dan, has already impressed me with how he interacts with staff and students alike. For example, he has made a point of reviewing the transcripts of every high school student and meeting with each kid one-on-one to discuss how to make sure they graduate on time. (Given that this year’s senior class includes a seven-year high school student, a six-year, and a fifth-year, you can see why he wants to make this a priority.)
In fact, to date I’ve had only one interaction with one of the new staff that I’d categorize as bad (I wrote about it here). Having so many new people on the staff brings a breath of fresh air to the building; I honestly can’t remember the last time there has been so much laughter during staff meetings, or when the whole bunch of us made such a point of getting together outside of school. Lucas and Andy host pancake brunch every Sunday, and so far most everyone has come each week. Just last night, Mick, New Ted (not our principal from last year but our new middle/high school science teacher), and New Cole (not my former roommate but the new high school English teacher) had everyone over to their house for a potluck. The only people missing were the couple of folks in Anchorage; everyone else brought food and conversation, making for a great evening.
Transitioning back to village living hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I have a new apartment and no roommate, so I can have people over whenever I choose or can just shut the door and have the place to myself. In addition to my standard hobbies of reading, working out, writing, and practicing trombone, I’m also getting more involved in school activities, such as becoming the assistant coach for the cross country team. Between running with the kids during practice and just being back for my second year, I’m greeted by many more people when I’m out and about. Even the thought of leaving my support network back home wasn’t so bad, because I now have a support network here. Lucas, Andy, and Kelly are still great friends, and I’ve even come out to Aly, the new fourth-grade teacher.
Let’s hope that Nunap 2.0 continues to live up to this fantastic start!