AU Students Visit Alaskan Schools

Wed, 2008-09-10 12:03 -- univcomm
September 10, 2008

Five Anderson University School of Education Juniors spent 10 days this summer teaching in Kodiak, Alaska. The students were participants in a program sponsored by AU School of Education, the Tri-S Office, and alum Marilyn Davidson, Director of Curriculum and Instruction in the Kodiak School system. Accompanied by AU Professor Rebekah Baker, and Ryan Weiss the students planned and taught lessons as well as collaborated on projects for students in two of the Kodiak schools.

Dr. Diana Ross, Dean of AU’s School of Education, says the purpose of the program is to give future teachers the experience of teaching in a highly-rated school with a large population of second language learners. Kodiak student ethnic groups include 24% Asian, 23% Native American and 7% Hispanic. “The high population of those from the Philippines is always a surprise to our participants,” Ross said.

“The students report that even though they are teaching in an American school, it seems they are in a foreign country,” says Ross, who led a group of students to Kodiak in May 2007. “An experience such as this is an excellent way to learn more about the cultural diversity growing in US schools.”

Recently, the students reflected on their experiences in Kodiak.

“My eyes have been opened to the challenges and benefits of cultural diversity,” said Brittany Curtis. “As a teacher, I have the opportunity to appreciate each student’s background and experiences. My goal is to broaden my future students’ respect and understanding of diverse cultures.”

All of the participants agreed that the most pleasant surprise was their experience at Camp Woody. The students accompanied the entire 5th grade on a small nearby island for three days of outdoor education. Events included tide pooling and survival training, and in-class lessons included a focus on the Island’s rich World War II history. The AUSOE students chaperoned each night, an experience they feel gave them stronger connections with the 5th graders.

Kodiak Island, located approximately 252 miles southwest of Anchorage, is the second largest island in the United States, second only to the island of Hawaii. Two-thirds of the island consists of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, home to 3,000 giant Kodiak brown bears and other wildlife.

“I have seen mountains and oceans, but I have never been where I could see them in the same view,” wrote Jessie Rigby in her journal. “I think the group may have gotten sick of my constant remarks like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is gorgeous!’ and ‘Can you believe we’re in Alaska? This is incredible!’

“I simply could not believe my eyes. My breath was taken away.”

Other AU students traveling to Alaska were Jacqueline Farrow, Alie Campbell and Autumn Steiner. The participating students will be presenting a workshop this Fall Semester chronicling their experience.

The teaching program is part of the Tri-S program of intercultural education projects seeking to introduce students to other cultures. Visit the Tri-S office in Decker Hall for more information about joining the May 2009 group.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.