It is a beautiful sunny afternoon here in Seattle, Washington where I am waiting to board the plane to Anchorage, Alaska. I’m watching plane after plane fall in line to touch down only to get reloaded and take for the skies again. Always on the go… isn’t that how we all are?
After three flights today, I’ll arrive in the thriving metropolis of Kotzebue, Alaska (see my last post on this sleepy arctic town). Each day this week I’ll board a tiny plane and head up- or down-river from Kotzebue to surrounding villages to perform speech-language treatments and assessments in schools. These villages are primarily populated by native Alaskans—think communities of around 500 residents. The schools in this district do not have a full-time speech-language pathologist (SLP), so they contract with my supervisor/coordinator to provide services throughout the year. After seeing each kiddo, I’ll complete a report that details progress and recommendations for the special education teachers to implement until an SLP returns. After finishing a day’s work in the school, I’ll stay there for the night! I’ve packed my Therma-Rest, sleeping bag, and groceries for a week (mostly “just add water” soups, granola bars, and peanut butter). Each morning, I’ll wake up and fly to a new location. I realize that this may sound like torture to many of my friends, but I’m really excited about it:
- working with kids from a completely different lifestyle than I’ve ever experienced,
- using my clinical skills to quickly and accurately determine a child’s gains/needs,
- generating ways in which the teachers can easily target a kid’s speech-language goals in the classroom,
- making myself practice assertiveness (I’m quite shy!),
- observing the Northern Lights,
- the “think on your feet” snafus that are inevitable on such trips (but that really make the adventure),
- and commuting to work each day on a plane…in Alaska.
So, regarding the title of this piece, I’ll have three flights to get to Kotzebue, six flights Monday through Friday, and three flights to get back to Denver. That’s a bunch of flying!