49 Voices: Rhiana Gay of Anchorage

Rhiana Gay of Anchorage (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

This week we’re hearing from Rhiana Gay in Anchorage. Gay is a kindergarten teacher at Creekside Park Elementary School, and while most Anchorage students started school this week, her batch begins on Monday.

Listen now

GAY: Since the kids are so new to school, have no idea what the classroom setting is, and most spend time at home with grandma, grandpa, or mom and dad, a family member, the school district has implemented something called a kindergarten academy. It’s pretty neat because it’s a transition for the kids. Because most times, parents do it all for them, but now it’s their turn to hang up their coat by themselevs and do everything they need to do to be successful.

This is my seventh year at Creekside and, believe it or not, I went to Creekside as a student. I live on the East side, I went to school on the East side and now I work on the East side. But here at Creekside, there’s about 20 classroom teachers, and about maybe 10 to 12 of them are locals.

I have family in Texas and they want me to teach and come live there. But Alaska is just home to me.

Here with the district, I feel like a name, and if I were to move to Texas — a bigger place — I would feel just like a number. But if I want to talk to my representative, I can call him up witout getting their secretary or waiting for a few months. And with work, my teachers’ union president… if I want to send him a text, I can. And I feel like that wouldn’t happen in a different state.

And right now, the teachers do not have a contract. So, what I like about that is that we’re all on the same, and we’re all just saying yes, we want a contract because X, Y and Z. Yes we want a fair start time, fair wages, fair compensation and we want to be able to control what happens in our classroom. And so, just being all on the same page brings unity throughout the members.

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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