49 Voices: Karen Paul of Kwigillingok

This week we’re hearing from Karen Paul in Kwigillingok. Paul is a dual language teacher who teaches in English and Yupik.

Listen now

PAUL: I went to college and started working here. And she was my colleague, the same teacher who taught me when I was a second or third grader. It felt so great. She inspired me. She was still teaching like a all-star. I enjoyed school so much. I would come every day. I loved that. When I taught them, knowing they learned something. That made me happy.

When we first started dual-language, some parents were not sure about because they heard half and half Yupik is being taught. Half a day.  The other half was English. Some parents thought their child would lose the Yupik language. We had all Yupik teachers and we taught them all in Yupik. Reading, writing, social studies, science and math.

Even though there’s hardships and ups and downs, I try my best. I do my best. I love my job. I wanna inspire the kids. So teaching is not something; it’s not a simple job. There’s not a word to describe it to me, what being a teacher is. Some people are comfortable with it. They know they want to teach it’s easy. But at the same time you have to do it the right way.

We try to remember to talk to the students in Yupik. And the principal, she tries but… she does her best.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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