Sunday, December 12, 2010

Broomball!


Nearly every morning after rowing formal each year, friends of mine would wake up at a ridiculous hour (getting up alone is ridiculous hung over after rowing formal) and play broomball. I thought they were crazy, and quite contently slept in on those cold mornings in February. I was invited to play the game for the first time at the arena here in Kash, and it's awesome! We're able to borrow all equiptment we need, including helmets, sticks, jerseys, knee pads and foam shoes (that allow both sprinting and sliding!). This weekend was a broomball tournement - our team consisting of elementary and high school staff is called "Creenglish", and so far we've lost one game, tied two, and headed to the arena once more this evening for the quarter finals. Wish us luck! It's been so nice to have something to do, to be apart of something outside of the school yard, and to be (very) physically active and competitive. Sometimes, a yoga mat just doesn't cut it.
In other news: 4.5 days until I fly home! Excited beyond words to see fiancee, family and friends. The plan? Flying to Timmins (fingers crossed!) and driving through the night to Toronto with 5 other teachers. After a short visit in Peterborough Scott and I will head to Lanark to celebrate Scott's sister's birthday and an early Christmas. On Christmas Eve Day, Scott and I will take the train to London to spend 4 or 5 wonderful days with my family (and Ozzy!). We'll head back up to Peterborough for New Years. Throughout I plan on eating out, seeing many movies, getting a massage or two (health coverage rules!) shopping for myself and for my kids - and hopefully relaxing as much as possible (although with all the faces I want to see, I doubt that will happen!)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas season in Kash


Its nearly December and I'm noticing drastic changes in student behavior. Maybe its all the snow we've gotten. Perhaps my kids are actually listening to something I say (but probably not). Maybe I'm not as easily shocked anymore (probably so). Whatever the reason, my job has been getting somewhat easier over the past few weeks. Students are again easing into routines after the week off in October (yes, its taken THIS long to relearn them). I look forward to our mornings together. I make sure I have a smile on my face when students come in. A "special student of the day" writes out the morning message while I read with a student or ask about their weekend. Some students brush their teeth. After announcements, we've been doing daily morning exercise (just 30 seconds of push ups or jumping jacks or crunches), it gets a smile on their face and wakes a few of 'em up. I'm hoping to eventually make this more of our day, the kids really enjoy it and I think its worth the time spent. After we regain our breathe, groups of students race to the carpet and the morning message is read and edited, all led by the special student. We do a "morning boogie" in a circle as a class, and then the special person leads the whole class in reading our words of the week, and students orally put them into sentences. By this time, breakfast has usually arrived and the special person washes their hands, and hands out the snack. Students eat apples with peanut butter or banana muffins while I tell them where they will begin their center activities. If its Monday, we brainstorm and then vote on a "Fun Friday" activity that they earn with good behavior and good work over the week.

Being consistent has not only really helped the kids, its helping me TONS with my planning. In September and October I'd be up late, writing and rewriting every lesson - most of which I wouldn't get through because I didn't have consistent routines and expectations in place, and well, because sometimes my kids are .... "hyper." While they certainly aren't angels yet, things are on an upswing as of late. Aunt Barb, if you're reading this, you gave me the best advice on an earlier blog when you told me to stick to routines. I was originally afraid to bore the kids, but they really are thriving on structure.

The other best piece of advice I've gotten is from a high school teacher up here, a friend and mentor of mine. He said, "Love and forgive. Love and forgive. Over. And over. And over." I've caught myself saying this sometimes once a day, sometimes every 5 minutes. It really is the best advice that has really saved my sanity, not to mention my voice box.

As the Christmas season approaches I look forward not only to my 2 weeks off (yea!) but my class is singing a song and doing some drama for the St. Andrew's Christmas Concert. We begin practicing tomorrow! I'll be playing the guitar for the first time in a few years. I've chosen "Nutt'n for Christmas"... because it suits my kids ;)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Movember


Its been a few weeks since I've last posted - a lot happens everyday (every minute in the classroom) but its getting harder to think of things to write about. My theory is that the peculiar of Kash is now becoming the everyday and its taking more and more to shock me these days - a good thing for my classroom management, a bad thing for writer's block.

Scott visited last weekend for six amazing days! We didn't get up to too much - there isn't much to do in Kash with the Northern Store as the lone destination point, and not many sights to see (its so flat you scan the horizon and see it all in one go) however we watched many movies, made pancakes and omlettes, played scrabble, walked around the dike and the town every day, began to plan an all inclusive vacation with Jill and Zach for April (eeee!), relaxed, and even began to sort out some "wedding stuff." He met my class, helped out with some language work and centers, played tag with them during recess. As predicted they fell instantly in love with him (as I did). They've been asking about him ever since.

Since he's left I've been more homesick than ever - November is proving to be an extra stressful month - on top of regular nightly planning, students' Individual Education Plans (IEPs) were due, first report cards go out in two weeks and parent-teacher interviews are scheduled for the end of the month. And, oh yeah, I'm turning 26. Yikes. However with 5 weeks until Christmas break and my plane tickets booked, I know I'll be south and home again soon.

The school year continues and I'm still learning more and more every day. My students continue to keep me on my toes, continue to challenge me in countless ways. While my students drive me absolutely crazy some days, I'm falling in love with each one of them. Getting to know these kids will I think be one of the more invaluable experiences I will take away from Kash - they are each uniquley absoluetly brilliant.


The greatest grafetti written on my portable door - hard to read since someone's attempted to wipe it off, but it still faintly reads:
"A+ for Scott loves Geni."
Like I said, brilliant!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mom's request: I blog again


I've noticed time has been going by much quicker these past few weeks. September crawled, October has been flying by.

Two weeks ago was Goose Break as previously mentioned. My roommate and I mostly worked on our long range plans - wrapping my mind around the next year within a few days was difficult. We did however manage to get out a bit. A friend we've made offered to take us up to James Bay on a "Kash canoe" (motorized). Kashechewan sits just below the tree line, as we headed north east towards the Bay the trees became smaller and smaller, until nothing remained but the flat horizon. Can see a single large rock a mile away. A few had brought guns and took turns practicing their aim at small birds while I aimed my camera. (My camera cord is probably sitting idle at the post office in the Northern store... meanwhile, all of these photos are on loan from Olena.)

We were also invited last Saturday to participate in a sweat lodge ceremony. One of the spiritual leaders of the community invited us, so 4 teachers and 4 nurses and one reporter jumped into the back of a pickup with towels in hand. For those who aren't familiar, a sweat lodge (or, at least the one we used) is a small man made cove of sorts, a circular dome made of woven and entwined sticks, then covered with heavy black felt and dark blankets. The dome itself was in a small shack or cottage, protecting it from the elements so that it can be used in the winter. We helped clean out the shack, pulled fresh grasses to cover the floor with and watched as a large fire was built a dozen feet from the cottage door. Large rocks were placed in the middle of the fire, and as the fire died down the rocks were red hot, through and through. Our guide explained to us the significance of the prayers and stories and the origin of the sweat lodge ( I won't repeat here for fear of getting something wrong), then we stripped down to skirts and t-shirts, took off our rings and watches and crawled into the lodge. In the middle of the dome is a pit. The red rocks are placed in the middle, prayers and various ceremonial rituals take place, and then the felt is closed over the small opening that serves as a door.

I've never been in such darkness in my life. About 5 minutes into the ceremony I was forgetting whether my eyes were open or closed, and made myself blink to remember which. Every few minutes, a mixture of water and sweet grass "medicine water" was splashed onto the hot rocks in the center and the lodge would instantly fill with heat. Our leader told several stories and prayers in Cree, praying for the people (especially the children) of Kashechewan and also for us. Every so often sacred eagle feathers would be waved just above our heads - I kept jumping, thinking a bird had miraculously found its way into the dome and was dive bombing us. Usually a sweat lodge ceremony is broken down into four 15 minute periods, however we did two longer, "double" sessions. In between the door flap was opened and the steam escaped and we cooled down some. The second session was much hotter than the first, and I think I allowed myself to relax a little more and my eyes played tricks on me. While I don't think I experienced anything that might remotely resemble a vision, the beating drums, the songs and the heat defiantly put me into a zone I'd never been in before. We came out of the lodge feeling detoxed and relaxed - really neat, great experience I would have missed out on were I home for the holiday.

Any relaxation I experienced last weekend quickly disappeared come Monday. Just one week out of school and I'm back at the drawing board, reteaching routines and procedures, reminding students of what they were easing into so nicely before the break. Sigh. Students tired easily this week of work, meanwhile work has tired me out as well. I've heard that students typically bounce back more quickly in October than in September and I hope that is the case!

Some great news on the horizon: a high school teacher is going to be helping me out by bringing the students healthy breakfast in the mornings. I know that for atleast a half dozen of my kids this will be a great help (to me, too!) And of course, Scott comes in less than 2 weeks to visit!

It's begun to snow! We woke up 3 or 4 times this week to find a dusting of white covering the ground. I think Kashechewan will look great, all dressed up for winter, especially for sunsets and on clear nights when the starts are out.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Moose and Goose Break

I have a week off of school this week - "Goose Break" for Kashechewanians. Entire families are on the Bay fishing and hunting = no school = a much needed break for teachers.

I thought really hard about going home for the holiday, weighed the pros and cons. Initially, before coming to Kash, I assumed I would be staying here to save money - "and besides," I thought, "I will have only been on the reserve for a month and a bit." Can't lie - more than anything I'd love to be with those I love and miss right now. In true-blue Geni fashion, I changed my mind too late and couldn't get a cheap flight out and back. Its for the best, I'm telling myself - I'll save quite a bit of money and get my long range plans done, which will put me in a better position come November and December. Perhaps I won't be up so late with planning on a nightly basis as I was in September. Sigh.

So here I am for a quiet week in Kashechewan. Four of us teachers and a nurse went for a really nice 5km walk around the dike on Friday night as the sun was setting. About 15 minutes in, we were beckoned off the dike by some kids. We poked our heads into a shack in someone's backyard - and there layed two huge piles of... umm... moose. In the back of a pickup parked in the driveway, legs and hooves stuck straight up from the back of the truck, three or four kids climbed over 2 other dead moose. I've seen dead animals in Ghana, but nothing compares to the sheer size of these HUMONGOUS animals. While it wasn't the prettiest sight, I'd much rather see these animals dead than alive! I won't be eating moose meat for a while - not while that memory remains fresh in my mind. I wasn't going to post the bloody photos that Olena was able to take (my camera cord is in the mail) as a favor to those with sensitive stomachs.... but what the hell.



































Sunday, October 3, 2010

Much Needed Hunt/Hike




I've had a... ahem... difficult past week. Monday was a rough day and my energy level never did recover, in addition I was on the Terry Fox Run committee, and that ran (smoothly and successfully) on Thursday despite some drizzle (I can't wait to find my camera cord, so many photos of cute kids to share!) Have never been so exhausted as I was this past Thursday and Friday, feeling pretty sluggish and down trodden to say the least. However, a new friend and coworker came to my aid - gave me some great advice and I was able to end the week on a high note. I am learning so much day-to-day about what it means to be a teacher, what type of teacher I want to be, how much of myself I have to give these kids while also learning my own limitations. Friday's school day really showed me the difference between being angry and being strict. I got a lot further on Friday with the latter.

This weekend has been really great, despite some terrible homesickness (I missed Head of the Trent, again!). Did some yoga and went for a nice run around the dike, started a new book (100 Shades of Grey) and watched a few movies (if you haven't seen ZombieLand, do it!) I just got back from what was supposed to be a hunt, but turned into more of a really really nice 4 hour hike with five of us girls. It must be one of the most beautiful days since coming here and it landed on a Sunday - couldn't be more perfect. We took a path - what will eventually be the "Winter Road" - upstream towards the Albany, cameras, guns and granola bars at the ready. Reminded me of the Otonabee and the Mill Pond in the fall. This is by far my most favorite time of year. The colours are beautiful, the air is cool, its not too cold or hot. I love wearing jeans and sweaters. The wind here is strong but smells so fresh.

I've never shot a real gun before! One of the girls brought along a few shot guns, and while we didn't come across too many animals to shoot - our laughing could probably be heard for miles - that didn't stop us from firing a few rounds into the sea and sky! The volume and kickback on the gun was insane - I'm sure there will be a few videos on facebook within the next few hours starring me, attempting to control the freaking firearm. So while we didn't hit much (err.. or anything...) we do look pretty badass, anyway.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New Teacher Initiation

Only in Kash could teachers be "initiated" into the school community as we were this past Wednesday. 11 of us new teachers walked into the highschool gymansium a few nights ago for a "Meet the New Teachers" night. I was exhasted from a hard afternoon with the kiddies and honestly feeling a little intimidated by the whole idea of the evening. I wondered why the benches were set up in such a peculiar way - about 100 community members and parents were sitting against one wall, directly facing our own chairs on the other far side of the gym. "Very stage like," I thought. After a quick introduction from our principal, we were chauffered out of the gym and (actually) locked in the school kitchen for about 10 minutes, wondering "What (TF) is going on???"

We were called into the gym one by one (I volunteered to go second). When I entered the gym again I not only saw a lot more people had made their way into the gym to watch, but that in the middle of the gym where was a long table set up, cloaked in a paper table cloth with several overturned boxes lined up on top. The simple rules of the "game" were explained and I should have taken a big hint, it was too simple but being the feirce competitor that I am, I thought only of getting the fastest time. The whole game was to start at one end of the table, lift the box and yell out the name of the object underneath the box as fast as you could, before moving onto the next. Betsy stood at the far end of the table with a stopwatch, clipboard and pen at the ready.

Who knows if this link will work... but the video says it all.

For the record, I totally would have had the fastest time.

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=480340865796&ref=mf

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Change what can be changed, accept what cannot be changed and learn to know the difference between the two.

The past week or so has been testing, to say the very least. I didn't come here with unrealistic expectations for myself or my students, nor do I believe I romanticized what this experience would be like - nevertheless, sometimes I think that nothing could have prepared me for what I've been through so far, or what is yet to come. I remind myself on a daily basis that my students' daily struggles are much more complex and trying than my own, and that many of them have yet to build coping mechanisms or behaviors to help them deal.

A few of my students are being shuffled into other classes - clashing personalities and behaviors made learning (and teaching) difficult, and thankfully the support staff here identified this need. Meanwhile, I'm constantly trying to find a balance in my own teaching and planning - I want to be liked by my students, for them to enjoy learning, I want my students to enjoy coming to school - especially with a high drop out rate (yes, even at grade 3). Meanwhile, however, I need to set clear expectations for their behavior and instill a certain work ethic in my students. These students will have to work much harder to get wherever they might aspire to go - convincing them that everything I do for them is in their best interest, I think, will be the hardest part of this job.

I am now into my fourth week as a teacher and getting more and more comfortable in my own classroom. Since discovering my inner goof, I have aspirations to become a great story teller (currently studying one of the all time greats - Robert Munsch) and can successful get 20 students to sit STILL for a whole 5 minutes on the carpet while I read. I've got 4 literacy centers going in the mornings, and now that I think students are easing into the routines well, I'll be starting guided reading groups this week (*fingers crossed*). I'm quite proud of my students in the morning - they settle in well, and hopefully students "run" our morning routine by November, all by themselves. We're beginning a letter-writing unit tomorrow that will go for the next two weeks, and after learning that Robert Munsch writes back to all classes that write him, I'm planning to have students write Bob for the grand finale of the unit. We just completed a study of soil in science - the kids love bringing in worms after rainy days to add to our classroom compost - not to mention watch the food scraps as they collect fuzz and rot. The thing I am most excited about, however, is our independent reading time - which has improved by leaps and bounds this past week alone. Since I've "amped up" my read-alouds, covered "what a good reader looks like (and doesn't look like)", and provided a few small incentives, my kids are actually reading, or even just picking up books - which is sooo exciting and satisfying. Many are using reading strategies we've covered... On Thursday, they read quietly for 25 minutes. I almost cried of happiness - not even kidding.

Some days, most days, I am so thankful for for my supportive and loving family - I had an amazing childhood. I am thankful for the network of teachers here, and for a very supportive administration. I am thankful for yoga and hot tea. Most of all, thank you to friends, family, and family-to-be who call, send me long emails of home and care-packages (even if they have yet to arrive!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Starry Starry Night


Just returned from another trip in the back of a pick up, this time for a bonfire - who knows where. I still smell/stink (subjective to individual tastes) of campfire. I personally love it. The stars here, are, without a doubt, one of those most a.maz.ing sights I've ever beheld in my life time. My neck hurts from having it craned for 4 hours. The milky way is crystal clear - its hard to see the black for all the white. The stars start thick at the horizon.

I saw shooting star after shooting star. I saw one cross the entire sky, leaving a thin streak of light for a few seconds after the light had passed beyond the trees, and gasped. I thought I had seen it all. Not five seconds later, (my fingers have been hovering over the keys for the past minute because I am having trouble describing what I saw...) the most beautiful, big, bold star streaked across the sky. All 10 of us dropped our jaws, pointed up. It went from direct north to south, its tail was thick, as thick as if you reached out your arm and put up a finger to the sky, it was as thick as that finger... midway through its path, it seemed to explode slightly, suddenly, its trail expanded at that point before continuing on its way, and so white, the trail remained for at least 6 or 7 seconds. I thought, I could get used to this.

In other news, Olena and I have really begun to paint the place... pictures soon to follow!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Everybody's Working for the Weekend




Yesterday, Olena and I did (pretty much) absolutely nothing. A strong westward wind and heavy rain kept us indoors, while an exhausting Friday school day drained me of any energy to do anything except watch a few movies - and every bonus feature. We've begun painting and "tiling" the walls with sketchbook paper, reading shitty paperbacks and cleaning every square inch of our place, busying ourselves and avoiding planning on this long holiday weekend.

Our food from Timmins came in - including a box of chocolate chip cookies, Tetley Tea, milk, COFFEE... I woke up yesterday to Olena making us crepes with sliced red delicious apples and natural peanut butter. Spaghetti and veggies for dinner.

We went for a walk in the rain earlier this afternoon, to get out of the apartment and to take a few pictures before the snow comes (the temperature has dropped severely in the past few days, and I doubt it will be long before everything is white). A friendly white faced husky welcomed us outside our doorstep, and walked with us around the dike and through the town. We saw quite a few packs of dogs today, the most I've seen yet. Luckily, they are all friendly or indifferent to us. Saw many dogs curled up under porches and abandoned trucks, sheltering themselves from the wind and rain. I so badly want to take care of them - the poor things look so miserable. I know, however, that if I feed one, I'll be fighting my way through packs of puppies when the weather gets cold.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pictures!

I've forgotten an essential camera cord at home in London... so in the meantime, I've stolen some photos from Olena.




Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rice, Rice, more Rice, and a Seal

Just came in from a run. There is a dike built that surrounds the whole community that is 5 km around that I've been trying to run every day since I've been here - some days I am successful, sometimes not so much. Every morning this week a kid or two has come into class, "I saw you running! I saw you running!" Kids are hilarious that way - they think I don't actually live and breath in this community, I exist only in the portable, or fly in daily. Whenever I've seen a student of mine on the road they point, mouths dropped... I love kids for that.

Tonights dinner? Rice. Its been rice for 10 days now. You'd only eat rice, too, if you saw the prices here. When 6 oranges cost 12 dollars... it is little wonder my students eat junk during lunch and then fall asleep in math class. We (Olena and I) have ordered food from Timmins, a place/service called Zudel's which is a god-send. Simply email them a detailed list with your credit card information, and save probably at least a hundred bucks. I was wondering "what if" I had taken that job in Vietnam - would I be eating as much rice as I am now? Or more? ... oh, the thoughts that cross your mind here...

I saw a seal! (If you haven't already heard) and it was awesome. I was running around the dike, and it popped its big head from the water and I followed it upstream.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Second Day of School

There are so many resources - books, DVDs, websites - that prepare you for the first day of school.A full day of teachers college is dedicated to it. You can fill the first day with icebreakers, get-to-know you games, your own introduction, how-to procedures, and arts and crafts. I had my name on the door, a name tag on every student, a welcome sign on my board, my kid's notebooks and text books neatly placed on their desks and their first assignment ready to go the minute they set foot in the class. What they don't prepare you for, is the second. It was the second day of school that really hit me: holy shit, I'm a teacher. I've got a lot of work to do and have no real idea where to start. Up until the wee hours of Friday morning, overwhelmed with the task before me, I managed to plan a days worth of work for my students, thanking god that it was Friday and I had the weekend ahead of me to 1) sleep 2) run 3) work.

The other teachers here and the administration have been so helpful and supportive. My principal, acknowledging the fact that I have a difficult class with a wide range of abilities, has already come to my aid on a number of issues. Three other teachers have also been kind enough to supply me with resources that I was without.

What's happened in Kash is this: in 2006 there was a very dire water crisis, and mid-way through the school year the entire town was evacuated until the problem was resolved. As a result, all students missed a half year of school. It was decided that ALL students would be held back a year. This created a double cohort of students (now affecting the grade 3). Last year there was 3 or 4 grade two classes, this year there are 2 more grade 3 classes that in years previous, one of which I am teaching. My classroom used to house grade 2s. When I entered my classroom before school began, there were no grade 3 resources, books, etc, and they hadn't ordered anymore. Teachers at the end of the year purchase resources and supplies for those filling their shoes the following September - and since I wasn't replacing anyone in a new grade 3 class, I haven't had any supplies ordered yet for my classroom.

However, like I said, a few teachers have been extremely helpful and us grade 3 (and a grade 4 teacher) teachers have agreed on a open-classroom policy of sorts - so now I have math text books and am sharing social studies, science and literacy texts with another grade 3 teacher across the hall from me. Since art is my stronger suit, I've agreed to help her (Kris) out with that, meanwhile, she's going to teach me all she knows about running literacy centers (which I have no experience with) so I can begin to tackle the mixed abilities and interests so prevalent in my students.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Day of School

Wow... what a day.

School started in the high school gymnasium, with children and their family members pooling around the gym enterance. The atmosphere was chaotic - students standing with their friends talking, smaller children chasing each other around - meanwhile the new principal attempts to give a heartfelt welcome. Slowly classes were called, and more than an hour later I went to the front of the gym, microphone in hand, and called my class to whoever was listening in the crowd. Then we walked to our portable.

I had about a 3 minute honey moon.

Then the roller coaster of a day began. I can't and won't give out details of my kids (as it would not only jeopardize my job, but it is also very disrespectful to the kids and the community as a whole. What I will say is that, holy sh*t, do kids ever have energy.) All i can speak to is my role, my job done. I survived, at least! Exhausted, so utterly exhausted, but I survived. My pacing needs work (I rush when I'm nervous!), I must learn to fully demonstrate anything I expect students to complete. Model behavior. Model expectations.
I'm too tired to write, much less plan for tomorrow... I fill "you all" in soon, perhaps this weekend after a nap. Or two.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In Kash

Where to begin! How about in London... while saying good bye to Ozzy I was swallowing tears... when it came time to say goodbye to Dad and Jill... not to mention Scott... I wasn't able to remain so composed. I was still a little upset as I left London for Toronto, but by then I was alright, and thinking positively. I had no problems getting through security (except in London, they checked my carry-on for at least 5 minutes, emptying every pocket, convinced I had some dangerous fluid inside...perhaps it was because my eyes were a little red from the tears... turns out it was my travel coffee mug made a funny image on the x-ray...) On the flight from Toronto to Timmins, little did I know that I was sitting across from Olena, my future roomie. She also stayed in the airport that night with me in Timmins - she was going to get a hotel, but when she saw me settling in for the night, and is as cheap as I am, we both tried to get as much shut-eye before leaving the next day. Olena was flying Aircreebec, while I was on Thunder-Air. Thunder-air actually has its own little hanger about 10 minute walk from the airport. It was a tiny airplane ( I took pictures), only a nine seater. There were only four of us on the flight, and 3 well-behaved chihuahuas. We landed in Moosonee first to refuel (I took more pictures), and I met a really nice girl, my age, also engaged, also her first year teaching, heading to Fort Albany for the year. After dropping her off, another 5 minutes later we were in Kash where the rest of us departed. Rosy (Director of Education) met me at the airport, and first stop was the Education office where I signed contracts and benefit papers.

How to describe Kash... its DUSTY! My hair loves it. Its collecting so much of it already. Its been pretty hot. There are no trees in the community (except a few by the grave yard, Rosy pointed them out as "the only trees in Kash") but if you look over the dike there's lots of pines. It is really flat here, all dirt roads. Every drives around in a truck or in the bed of a truck. Or on a four wheeler. Most kids I've seen on one four wheeler is 4, however I've only been here for 3 days. There's quite a few husky dogs around - however not too many strays yet. I've been looking hard for puppies under porches- my new favorite past time when there's not much else to do. I hear they hang around the teacher's portables because we are nice to them. I guess the peope are scared of dogs here, and throw a lot of stones. Some are tied up to porches though, and a few teachers have dogs as pets, too. A lot of small portable-like houses, a lot of broken windows and smashed up cars on front "lawns." People for the most part have been friendly or ignore my hello. The kids are very curious, always asking if I am a teacher and what grade I will be teaching. I haven't met any grade 3s yet though. Olena and I went to the Northern Store - holy shit, is it ever expensive. Natural peanut butter was 10 bucks. A tin of Nabob's grind in 17. Kellogg's cereal is 9. So we sucked it up and bought a few things, but CAN'T WAIT to get food shipped in from Timmins. I hear it's easy and will save us tonnes.

Our apartment: was a great surprise! I'll send pictures soon, but its big and clean and everything is brand new. Olena and I had a great time opening up all our new utensils and pots and pans, mops and pillows.... everything... I was feeling pretty spoiled yesterday. Only thing I can think I'd like is a toaster, but I hear we can easily and cheaply order from Sears. Which reminds me - all of my boxes came in the day I arrived! So I have all of my text books, all of my clothes and supplies. The last of my boxes (which we sent on Tuesday before I left) is at the high school waiting to be picked up tomorrow. We got the internet a few hours ago, and should be getting a phone connection tomorrow asap.

Olena is great. She's also engaged, is from Toronto - and is (is it possible?) cheaper than I. We are getting along really well so far, which is great, because there's only one set of keys...

Earlier today we hopped into the back of a pick up and drove to the Albany River ("the beach") for a dip. It was pretty rocky and there's quite a current, but we stood waist high in the river and met a few new faces. One of the teacher's boyfriends is a cop here, and he set up a paint ball field not far from the community, so hopefully I'll get to try my hand at that before the snow comes....

We just got back from a little get-together with a lot of the teaching staff. Everyone is extremely friendly and welcoming and giving a lot of positive energy. I'm thinking that I couldn't really ask for a better place to begin as a teacher - EVERYONE who teaches here had their first year teaching here, so everyone will know what I will be going through and can give advice/resources. I'm hearing that the new principal, Judy, has been in Kash for years (and for the last 2 or 3 years ran the high school magnificently) and is married to a local, runs a very professional show and is extremely supportive and positive with lots of feedback to give...

The only downer I've heard so far that has me a little worried, is that my classroom might be a little empty when I go in tomorrow. It seems as though no teacher last year did an order for my classroom this year, so I'll be without supplies (ie: notebooks, art supples) for maybe a few weeks. I'm hoping a rush order can be made... but I'll find out tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm sure I can borrow from other teachers... again, we'll see. In the meantime, I'm optimistic.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

To Kashechewan

I got a job - a grade 3 teaching position in a small (read: small) northern community called Kashechewan, aka "Kash". I'm excited; I'm terrified. It will be an adventure - am I in over my head?

Any one who is close to me will know how much I've struggled this past 1/2 year with this path before me. This time two years ago, applying to teacher's college was such a natural choice - the right path - and it was. I excelled in my classes and in my placements, found my "artistic license" and although I had no social life what.so.ever. with prep for school, work at the restaurant and coaching rowing in the early months/early mornings, its been the most fantastic year. A big one for me. I turned 25, am now engaged (smile), have a "real" job, might even get a dog!... Whoa.

After such a great year - with Scott and I on the same continent, and seeing more of my family than I have in the past 6 or 7 years - this is a hard move to make. I want to teach, though.

For family and friends (for my mom mainly!) I plan to use this blog to update those interested about my adventures in Grade 3. I also hope that it may service other young first-year teachers who are considering teaching in Northern Ontario - because I've found nothing yet on the topic.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pink Blossoms for Spring

Flowers for yet another Thank You card. I have lots to be thankful for!

Friday, May 21, 2010




Some thank-you cards I made this morning. I like painting sunflowers - probably do more.
A thank-you card for a kitten lover. Also the beginnings of my water painting summer project (to teach myself how to paint using water colors). Its a slow (and slightly expensive!) process, but I'm enjoying it so far.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

This is the beginning of Ralph, a know-it-all kid with weak language skills but has a passion and natural curiosity for discovery and "science." Created with Grade 1 Science curriculum in mind.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010






















Meet Ralph.
Ralph is a Jr. Scientist, coming to life in a picture book... eventually.


Franks and Beans and a silly family joke.