End of Chapter One

I’ll keep this post down here in September when I wrote it, for a while. At some point I’ll move it to the proper place in the Blog timeline.

Long-time readers of this blog may notice that I never finish the Tuluksak chapter of the story – this was the part where I was under contract, sort-of, with the State but really with the Association of Alaska School Boards with two bosses that had never asked for me on a super vague mission to understand why, given so much outside assistance, there was so little progress being made there, educationally speaking. You know, that thing I did last semester that started this blog in the first place.

The 2019 graduating class of Tuluksak High

First off, when I finished my work and left Tuluksak in May, the day after the end of school, I jumped straight from there in Juneau for what would be the last visit with my kiddo for who-knows-how-long, and then right into the craziness of living with the Executive Director of the Sitka Summer Music Festival. Also, I was trying to drink in as much of that Sitka summer as I possibly could, having a feeling I might be back up here sooner than I would want to be…

And I was closing out my business of four years: Sitka Community Schools. That brought a bit of sadness, and a lot of logistics, like finding a home for hundreds of roller skates, and basketballs, and on and on.

And, I’ll tell you, those last days of my contract were strange ones. I know that whatever final report I wrote would be read by very few people. I kind of know this going in, but it still kind of adds to the steady hum of futility that surrounded this project. For instance, after the end of school, the state was holding a multi-day meeting of school district employees to also answer the same questions – but this was not a thing I was invited to.

A little side note here – I’ll learn that the next school year nothing that came of that meeting was implemented in the District. Another big expenditure of money and time that led to a dead end.

So, yeah, I had some hard feelings leaving that situation, and I had plenty of good things ahead of me, so I did just leave it behind.

And, we gotta close that chapter. So, let me share with you what I wrote as my final report. Keep in mind that I had something like 40 pages of notes, but I know that nobody would want to read the story that would come from that. So what I did was boil everything down to to five bullet points, and fit it into four pages. There’s a lot of things that I could have provided citations to, and plenty of background information that I could have added, but I wrote this for a small audience of folks that I figured were familiar enough with the school and the District that I could cut to the chase. So, with all that ado, here’s the report:

From on high

Getting back on this blog has been weighing on me. I think one of the problems I have is that the “real” story is so big, I don’t feel like I can tell it, right? “But that’s the point of a blog, Matthew, to tell little bits of the story at a time.


Ok, OK.


One thing I’ve been working on is figuring out them drones. I’ve got a plan to work with science teachers in Akiachak and Akiak to do some sort of unit on the Kuskokwim river freezing. This is a big deal – when the river freezes it becomes a highway that makes moving between villages and getting to Bethel much easier. Freeze-up and Break-up (when the river melts – we’ll have fun witnessing that together this spring!) are really the two events that divide the year probably since people first walked this land.


Anyway, my idea is to get the drones to periodically go to three or four different points on the river and take a picture straight down. This way students can observe the freezing progress over time. Then we can explore why different parts of the river freeze before others, etc.
To do that, I have to figure out how to program these drones to go to the same points and take the same pictures. Ugh.

In the meantime, here’s a nice shot that I made:

Here’s some other things that have happened on the past week:

  • Last week two brothers got drunk and one guy shot and killed the other, then tried to shoot himself but only wound up messing up his face really bad. The crime scene had to remain in the house for two days before State Troopers could arrive.
  • The District Office announced that there was barely any money in the budget for sports teams to travel, and that coaches would have to raise their own team travel money. This nearly created a walk-out.
  • The first morning frost firmed up the mud on Monday for my morning commute.
  • I got my electric guitar and an amp up to the village! It feels so good to be able to make a little noise now and then.