Mr. Pader hates blood.
He also didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life either.
In fact, most teachers at Kayhi didn’t intend on majoring in education.
“When I was in high school I swore I would never be a teacher,” said English and Journalism teacher Jeff Lund.
Lund got a degree in journalism and PE but realized he didn’t want to write articles for a newspaper. Integrated science and physics teacher Dominic Pader went to college wanting to be a doctor because “that’s what smart kids do” soon he realized he couldn’t stand the blood or guts involved in the medical field. Technology and entrepreneurship teacher Allegra Machado went college for a business degree in finance and economics but also found her way to teaching.
The story of a teacher is often overlooked. It wasn’t until junior and senior year that I started to make personal connections with my teachers. Senior year has been a pivotal time in my life and hearing how the adults that I look up to are so happy and successful gives me a sense of relief when it comes to make big decisions in my life.
So why do teachers decide to make this their career?
Pader jokes that he became a teacher out of spite when girlfriend at the time said “You could never handle a classroom full of kids by yourself”
It was this and, his friend who was a teacher, that convinced Pader to start substitute teaching. Pader didn’t think this would determine his career path but found himself loving to teach.
“I just really enjoyed being in the classroom,” Pader said. “at that point I still wasn’t willing to be a teacher, I wasn’t willing to give up a high paying career, but soon it came down to what would make me happiest”
Lund also found his way to teaching through a substituting job. Lund said he wanted to work for a university in the sport information department but colleges wanted him to intern first and he needed a real job. He decided to go to California with a friend where he could substitute teach for a while and find a job at one of the many colleges in the area. But fate took a hold of his future when a position opened for an English and PE teacher.
“I started teaching English even though I only had a journalism degree,” said Lund. “so my first year I had to take night school while teaching to earn my teaching certification”
Just like the others Machado also substitute taught. It seems that once they get in the classroom they are hooked.
“I enjoyed working with teenage kids in our community,” Machado said. “and decided that that was something I wanted to pursue.”
It seems that no matter what salary or subject they are teaching, teachers in Ketchikan are so happy with their life. Lund said there is something so rewarding about actually seeing the change you are making in kids lives everyday.
No wonder so many people who start as substitutes eventually become teachers– the job creates a very happy and rewarding life.
“I love that it’s different everyday,” Machado said. “It’s not the same job everyday because everyday your talking to different kids about different things, new conversations and assignments, it’s refreshing and I enjoy that”
Alaska is known as a cold and remote state. Even though I love Alaska it is surprising to me that people choose to move here. So how do people end up in Alaska?
Pader came to Alaska for an adventure, with his wife, after finishing college.
“We went to barrow just to say we did, almost like a check off our bucket list,” Pader said. This adventure turned into a longer stay once they made close connections with locals. Pader said it’s all about the people you get to know.
“We ended up liking it enough that we stayed for four years,” said Pader. “If we hadn’t gotten to know people there(in Barrow) we wouldn’t have stayed.”
Lund grew up in Klawock but left Alaska the first chance he got and went to college in Arizona.
Lund came back to take care of his mom then planned on moving back to California but he loved the Alaskan wilderness so when an opportunity to stay came up, at the last minute, he couldn’t resist.
“I was packed ready to leave,” said Lund, “I had my ferry ticket ready and then Sam Nelson called and said they had another English job here at Kayhi, and I decided to take it.”
Lund was set on moving back to California but remembered how much he missed the accessibility to the outdoors and fishing that California didn’t provide.
“Here my life outside of work is fun and in California it took a lot of work to do some of the things I like to do,” Lund said. “I feel like I’m better as a human being up here.”
Machado was born and raised in Ketchikan. She came back to Alaska for her family, like Lund, and didn’t plan on staying. Alaska offered great job opportunities for her and her husband and this benefit outweighs the rainy weather.
“My husband got his dream job with fish and game here so I realized we are probably gonna stay,” Machado said. “I don’t like the rain but It’s a beautiful place to live, you just have to be able to go on vacation multiple times a year”
These teachers didn’t plan on staying but the Alaskan wilderness has some amazing perks from the slow pace of life, to outdoor adventures, and the relative safety of the towns.
“We just loved it. The people, the pace of life, and traffic.” Pader said.
Ketchikan, Alaska is a small town that is not very well known, but when people find this hidden gem they tend to stay. There is something about Ketchikan that makes it feel like a place to settle down and call home.
The people that live in Ketchikan create a friendly environment that makes people feel connected. Pader likes that locals in Ketchikan seem to be more neighborly than most cities.
“People you don’t know will wave and say hi to you,” Pader said. “If you did that in Seattle they would think you’re crazy.”
The nature and beauty of Ketchikan allows people to get out more and do the things they want to do. Lund loves fishing and going outdoors but anyone who lives in Ketchikan can benefit from the abundance of activities available.
“Down south doctors and therapists are recommending that people go outside because it’s medicinal,” said Lund. “if you wanna kayak and if you wanna fish and if you wanna hike and hunt it’s all readily available and that’s really appealing to people.”
Machado loves living close to her family and having them around while her children grow up.
“My family is here and I think that is really important,” Machado said. “I wouldn’t want to have my kids live in another state and have them never see their grandparents”
The relaxing lifestyle of people in Ketchikan appeals to many. When people are worry free they are able to enjoy their everyday life more.
“I just like the way people interact with each other and the lack of stress from a city,” Pader said. “I’m a happier when I’m not stressed”
Everyone who lives here can agree that despite the unforgiving down pours, Ketchikan is beautiful. It’s hard to imagine someone wanting to move to such a small, rainy town but it’s clear Ketchikan has that special something that makes you want to call it home.
“As a teacher I could pretty much go anywhere in the country for sure and most places in the world and this is where I want to be” Pader said.