Thursday, August 16, 2012
McConnell Elementary School fourth-grade science/math teacher Tammy Johnson and language arts/social studies teacher Kristy Kimball are taking their students on Alaskan adventures.
Having recently returned from a 14-day cruise through the Last Frontier as part of an educational trek made possible through a Fund for Teachers Grant, their students will view tribal dances, totem poles, glaciers and whales through firsthand video accounts made this summer.
The pair said they chose to venture to Alaska because it has the best of both worlds of social studies and science.
“For me, learning about the Native American tribes and putting on their regalia and doing dances was the most memorable time,” said Kimball. “Learning about their history and way of life was fun. They still hunt, fish and dance. The hospitality of the Native Americans is very refreshing. They want you to see their totem poles.”
Johnson said experiencing all the wonders of science firsthand captivated her. The two got to see seals and icebergs, humpback whales with their offspring, otters with their babies and the salmon streams.
“Most of the time you see animals in a zoo, but to see them in their natural habitat, it’s amazing,” said Kimball. “When you travel to Alaska it’s a whole new world.”
“Most of the places we went were hard to get to,” said Johnson. “You have to take a ferry or fly in because of no road systems. It’s very remote. A cruise ship is the best way to see Alaska.”
While there they visited Ketchikan, Tracey Arm Glacier, Hubbard Glacier, Juno, Icy Strait Point, Anchorage, Homer, Kodiak, Sitka, Victoria, British Columbia in Canada and Seattle, Wash.
“We went around the southern tip of Alaska,” said Kimb all. “We did not go into the Arctic part.”
Johnson said the magnitude of Alaskan glaciers amazed her. Kimball said it sounded like thunder booming as pieces of the glacier fell.
She added that she hopes their trip to Alaska will inspire other teachers to apply for a Fund for Teachers Grant.
“Would I do it again? Absolutely,” said Kimball. “We received hands-on training in Alaska.”
Johnson said she hopes the Alaskan educational trip will teach students that teachers can work together to learn something too.