Happy 2016 Everyone!
I was already thinking of what to bring back when I arrived in Ottawa on the evening of December 20th. I spent several days shopping for school supplies at various stores. I even braved the Boxing Day crowds at a local Best Buy. By the end of my educational shopping spree, I had two boxes full of supplies.
It's no secret that the cost of food is very expensive in Nunavut. To save money, I also used my vacation time to buy perishable and frozen foods that I could bring to Arctic Bay. My family & I bought food that wasn't readily available in the northern community. On the day of my departure, my check in luggage included one perishable food box & one frozen food box. I was able to pay less excess baggage fees because I phoned First Air several days in advance.
I celebrated Christmas with family and New Year's with (old) friends. We watched the Times Square Ball descend down the specially designed flagpole, counting down the last minute of 2015. When the ball came to a stop at the bottom of the pole, all of New York erupted with cheers of "Happy New Year!" We joined in and celebrated the arrival of 2016. My, how time flies fast!
My flight to Arctic Bay was on the morning of January 2. Half of me was sad that the break was already over, but the other half was excited to be heading back to the far north. I managed to take care of all the items on my "to-do" list except for one. I didn't see the newly released film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I know. How could I? What was I thinking? I've committed a "cardinal sin". I'll exonerate myself by being one of the first people to buy the film on DVD.
I was one of the first teachers (from Inuujaq School) to arrive at the departure gate at the Ottawa Airport. The others arrived thereafter. We talked about what we did during the holidays. They were all shocked when I confessed that I didn't watch the latest Star Wars movie. When we landed in Iqaluit, I quickly walked over to Yummy Shawarma for lunch.
Our flight to Arctic Bay flew to Pond Inlet first. All the teachers paid attention when the sun disappeared over the horizon. The high arctic was still in the middle of dark season. When the plane landed in Pond Inlet, we all disembarked and entered the small terminal to stretch our legs & use the restrooms. I was surprised to see some of my students in the terminal. They were surprised to see me as well. It turns out they were coming with us to Arctic Bay. We bombarded each other with questions about our vacation. The flight to Arctic Bay lasted 40 minutes.
We were all greeted with bad news when we landed in the community. The school had been vandalized that day. We were told the damage was quite extensive in some areas. I went into the school on Sunday to see what happened. Thankfully, my classroom wasn't vandalized. I took pictures of the vandalism and submitted them to the principal. It would take several days and a team of specialists to clean up the school. Everyone involved in the clean up did a very good job. This unfortunate incident was covered by CBC News North. (The three pictures may have been submitted by Paul Mooney, but all three were taken by me).
I would like to point out that vandalism is not exclusive to Nunavut. Vandalism happens everywhere. All you can do is recover, move forward, and hope the culprits are brought to justice.
The new semester began despite this setback. I would be teaching four classes this semester: Grade 10 English, Grade 10 Social Studies, Grade 11 Social Studies, and Grade 10 Guitar. Grade 10 English would be my largest class with twenty students. The students for my social studies classes needed to repeat the courses. The content would mostly be the same, but I was already thinking of adding some new material that I have been unable to teach in the past. As for Grade 10 guitar, I have an all-female class this year. Maybe next semester I'll have an all-female drum line?
With the arrival of January, I quickly realized that there is only one & a half months until PD Week in February. PD stands for Professional Development. As the PD Coordinator for Inuujaq School, I have to make sure that teachers properly fill out their applications, submit them on time, correct them if necessary, and let them know if the applications are approved. This year, teachers working in the Qikiqtani area will spend their PD Week in their respective communities. Of course, there are exceptions. Some teachers have applied to complete their PD activities outside of their communities, and even the territory. I only have to worry about the teachers at my school.
Being PD Coordinator is like being in charge of the Christmas Concert Committee, but with a little less stress . . . I think. We shall see in the next few weeks.