Ekwok's William "Sonny" Nelson School has new teacher, principal
Amy Arnold moved to Ekwok in mid-August to fill the role of both teacher and principal for the village's school. Hailing from Florida, she has been an educator for 23 years. Many of those years were spent running The Monarch School, a Florida school she started with her husband for students with autism spectrum disorder.
"I ran that school for seven years until he got very sick. That's when we walked away from that, and I didn't go back to that because you can't go home again," said Arnold.
After her husband passed away last year, she wanted to make a significant change in location and lifestyle. She applied to teaching positions far from Florida, schools overseas and schools in Alaska.
"Alaska just seemed like the most logical choice to stay in country and still have an adventure," Arnold said.
As she gears up for the coming year, there is one plan she is particularly keen to implement. She is excited to bring elders from the community into the classroom regularly to speak with students.
"I want them to understand how special it is to listen to the stories of their elders and to know where they came from because I think that's so important," said Arnold. "There are so few people in the U.S. now that really have a sense of roots and a sense of history connected to where they are."
Arnold hopes to retire in Florida six years from now. Until then, she would like to put down roots in Alaska.
"What I hear from the adults and from the children is they want someone to stay, and I think we all desire that consistency," she said, reflecting on conversations she has had in her short time in the village. "I'm excited, and I'm hoping to be able to stick it out and make it work."
So far Arnold is the only teacher on staff at William "Sonny" Nelson School. However, Southwest Region School District is actively seeking to hire another one. This year, 17 students range from pre-kindergarten to seventh grade are enrolled