By Martha Dobson, Target® Iditarod Teacher on the Trail and Educational Consultant
Julie, as she introduced herself to me last March during my time in Anvik for the Iditarod, was the teacher-principal for the Blackwell School in Anvik. Julie and I had time to talk while we waited for the first musher to reach Anvik, and I will always be impressed by her dedication to becoming a teacher. She told me of her journey over years taking classes from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a journey serving as a timeline of technological advances available in the village. At the beginning of her studies, she mailed her coursework back to her professors, progressed to using the telephone to talk with them, and, finally, to sending electronic communications via the Internet to finish her coursework. What dedication!
I also remember enjoying Julie’s excitement and anticipation while we awaited DeeDee Jonrowe’s arrival in Anvik. Watching Julie visit with DeeDee, pleasure was evident on her face while they visited. It was a race highlight for Julie.
Saturday, August 13, 2011, Julia Walker of Anvik, Alaska died in a plane crash while returning from McGrath for teacher inservice training prior to the start of the new school year.
The opening of school in the Iditarod School District’s seven schools has been delayed while the communities deal with this tragedy. Also on board the same flight were the new teachers for grades 4 through 8, Don Evans, Jr. and Rosemarie Evans, a husband and wife who were to share that teaching position, and their two children. At this writing, all four are in the hospital in Anchorage. The pilot, Ernest Chase, did not survive the crash.
We teachers know how our schools and staffs are our second families, providing friendship and support in all situations. Let us support the village of Anvik, its families, students, and staff with thought and prayer.
As well, look for upcoming information regarding other efforts to support this school and staff. To provide assistance for the Evans family, please see this link.