2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year nominee Kent Fielding

first_imgKent Fielding is a high school English and History teacher from the Skagway School District. He’s one of the finalists for the 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year award. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)Teachers can have life long influence on students. Their work is important and each year, the Alaska department of Education celebrates the profession each year by naming a Teacher of the Year. The winner will be selected in October from a group of four finalists. This week we’re bringing their voices to the air. Skagway high school English and History teacher Kent Fielding started his career in Kentucky before moving to Alaska. Fielding taught at Mt. Edgecumbe before Skagway, where he has taught for the past 12 years. He said technology, especially phones can be a challenge in school but he says in Skagway, it’s crucial.Listen nowFIELDING: Because, all my kids travel for basketball, cross country. They’re involved in almost everything. They’ve gone sometimes a week at a time. But it makes it so much easier for me to communicate to them and teach them actually online, which is sometimes what I’m essentially doing. But I can imagine, having taught in Central Hardin in Kentucky, where I had classes of 39, that it’s probably almost impossible to keep track of all the devices, particularly phones.TOWNSEND: Understanding the relevance of events in education, historical context, is really important. How do you work to help students understand those connections so that they can really learn and engage with why it’s important to know what happened before to inform what will happen in the future?FIELDING: You know, one thing that we talk about in the classes, this idea particularly in our current political context, is the dangers of a single story. A single story is, if the only thing you know about is Mexicans are illegal immigrants, you have a stereotype that is untrue and you can’t really see them as people. So when you start talking about this single story, and I have kids pick out their single stories because they all have single stories about something. You begin to actually be able to connect the past. It’s easy to connect perhaps to some of the things that are going on today with the white supremacy, events in Charlottesville. So the idea of understanding can also help us understand the future, understand the present.TOWNSEND: You said that “For me, getting education to go beyond the clasroom is the whole point of education.” What do you mean by that?FIELDING: Well, I think we wanna create lifelong learners. I think that’s the whole purpose of education. And this past year, we went to the Marshall Islands to study climate change, because the Marshall Islands are atolls that are meters above seawater. And they’re places that are going to be first affected by climate change along with Northern Alaska. I wanted the kids to make the connections. And in October, they’re actually hosting a climate change conference in Skagway. In the Marshall Islands, the things that we did was we’d visit high schools, we’d talk to leaders, we met with the president, Dr. Hilda Heine — the female Marshallese president. We talked to community members. We looked at the erosion of sea walls. So it was like a nonstop learning project, and now they’re promoting this climate conference, which is like their own thing.TOWNSEND: What do you think the future of education will look like? Will it be automated? Will there still be teachers? What do you think it will be and what do you think it should be?FIELDING: (laughs) I think we’re moving more and more to computer-based learning, more online. I don’t think we’ll ever — I hope we don’t ever –get rid of the classroom teacher because I do think the teacher is important, primarily because I think one of the big reasons why students succeed is the relationship that students have with their teachers.(From left to right) Kent Fielding, Eric Rush, Ben Walker and Karen Martin are the finalists for the 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year award. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)last_img

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