Traveling for a school-sponsored event is a big deal for teachers out in the bush. We load up in a small plane and hope we can make it there without crashing. Maybe the last part is just my interpretation of what happens when we get on. Not many airlines have their pilots estimate the weight of each passenger and then arrange them to make sure the weight is distributed correctly. The pilot picks the heaviest first, and then checks down in order by weight, politely pointing to which of the four seats we’ll be sitting in. I’m pretty sure the pilot picked me to sit in the co-pilot’s seat because he liked me, not because he needed some weight up front. Plus, in case of an emergency I could assist him in panicking the rest of the passengers.
We had our teacher’s in-service in Hooper Bay, the district’s largest school with about 400 students. The school is much larger than ours is, which serves about 65 students, K-12. The school is about 5 years old. It was built when their old school burned down, along with most of the teacher’s housing. The town has a grocery store, which mine does not, so I was able to get some groceries. I didn’t have much room in my bag, so I only bought a few items. Here is the list:
1 jar of Ragu: $6.50
2 20oz bottles of Coke: $5.50
2 lbs of onions: $4.50
5 lbs of potatoes: $6
18 carton of eggs: $5.50
2 sausage ropes: $16
One of the reasons I didn’t have a lot of room was because we had to pack our sleeping bags and air mattresses. That almost filled my duffel bag, so I went ahead and threw in some clean clothes for the two days. We slept in classrooms, rooming with people who didn’t know us. Or didn’t know that I snore. Two teachers from my school and I were sharing a room with another guy who we didn’t know. He did not seem to be interested in knowing us either, since he resisted any attempt at small talk from each of us. The most he spoke was when he was leaving the room at 2am, mumbling something about not being able to sleep in this racket. My two other roommates pointed out that the racket he was referring to was my snoring. I can add that guy to the list of many others who do not enjoy hearing from me. I also drove out a co-teacher last spring in our cabin during science camp, citing the need to sleep for his reason. Monica must be getting some good sleeping right now.
We sat through seminars both days, each one about different strategies on teaching reading skills to students. District wide, our reading scores on the state assessment have been low, so that’s where the concentration is right now. It was good to learn about new tools to use in the classroom. It was also good to hear from other teachers, many new just like me, talk about what struggles each of us are going through. It is true that misery loves company, because there seemed to be a lot of misery. But, that is why we have these gatherings, and I think I learned some ideas to try in my room.
The plane ride home had us facing a strong head wind, so it took us about a half-hour longer than the flight there. The view was great, with no clouds at all. I did feel a bit apprehensive once when I saw a flock of geese that looked very close beneath us. I glanced at Sully but he seemed unconcerned, so I guess it was ok. I was a big help in the co-pilot seat, with the fact we didn’t crash as being the evidence. I understand that correlation does not equate to causation, but in this case, I’ll let it slide. Plus, he picked me first.