Alaska Adventure with Early Childhood Teachers

Bethel, Alaska

It has been a busy fall traveling around the country from Bowling Green, KY to Jonesboro, AR and El Paso, TX.  In each place, I’ve had the opportunity to work with wonderful early childhood teachers who share my passion for creating the best possible environments for young children.

I have just returned from an amazing trip to Bethel, Alaska which is 400 miles west of Anchorage. In this frozen tundra, there are people who have devised a variety of creative ways not only to survive but to thrive.  In this region, there are Yupik villages where young children have the opportunity to be in early childhood programs led by dedicated teachers. These teachers understand their culture and way of learning. They are motivated by an outstanding project director and early childhood specialist.  As educational leaders, they travel to the villages by air and sometimes by dog sled in weather that can be 50 degrees below zero.  Truly a sign of a dedicated early childhood professional!


Playing Dress-up in handmade Parka

Playing Dress-up in handmade Parka


During my time here, we concentrated on ways to nurture language development in young children.  The teachers were delightful as they sang, listened to stories, and participated in the language enriching activities.  As with many cultures, they have a strong connection to storytelling which was the focus of our last session together.  Storytelling is tied to our heritage, and is a powerful tool as it extends our understanding for language enrichment.

It is reassuring to see what wonderful work these early childhood teachers are doing! I am so blessed to have been able to visit this very special place, and be inspired by their work with young children. Thank you!


Teachers in Bethel, Alaska

Director and teachers who work in Lower Kuskokwim District, AK


2 replies
  1. Brenda Little
    Brenda Little says:

    Dr. Isbell: Your adventure sounds fascinating! This reminds me of my time on the Navajo Indian Reservation when I worked for Project TIES. We can learn so much from other cultures. Their ability to overcome challenges related to weather and distance should inspire us everyday!

  2. Rebecca Isbell
    Rebecca Isbell says:

    It is so nice to hear from you—and for you to make the connection to your time with Navajo Indians. I hope your fall is getting off to a great start.

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