The Haines School has two new teachers this year. But neither of them is new to teaching, and both have roots in Alaska.
Jordan Baumgartner is teaching middle school science and a couple math classes in Haines this year. This will be his eleventh year working in education. Baumgartner is originally from Dillingham. Before coming to Haines, he spent three years teaching in Colorado and seven in Anchorage.
But Baumgartner also has ties to Haines.
“My wife is from Haines,” says Baumgartner. “And we’ve been coming to Haines for like 10 years. And every summer we say we want to move here. My wife Keely got a job at the clinic. And I was fortunate enough to get a job here too, so we’re super excited.”
Baumgartner says plans for his science classes include work outside the building.
“My focus for science is to make it as hands on as possible,” says Baumgartner. “And to include the community if possible. And make it more engaging, place-based and fun.”
For a couple classes, that will mean going outside and exploring different plants.
“It’s my lead-up into ecology. And we’ll look at how different plants are used as medicine,” says Baumgartner. “And then we’ll take a couple plants in and I’ll show them how they are used for medicinal purposes. We’ll use devil’s club and we’ll make it into cut salve, or lip balm.”
Baumgartner is looking forward to the small class sizes at the Haines School.
“It’s going to be great. I’ve never had a class size under like 25 in my life,” says Baumgartner. “So having smaller class sizes, it’s going to be a great way to build better relationships with the kids and get to know them a lot better.”
When school’s not in session, Baumgartner says he may be spotted outside, or taking care of his two young kids.
“You’ll probably see me out running,” says Baumgartner. “A lot of sports. Maybe out in our boat. Outdoors, you’ll see me outdoors.”
Baumgartner is entering the district following the resignation of longtime math and science teacher Patty Brown at the end of last school year. Administrators offered resignation incentives to certain teachers as a long-term cost-saving measure. Brown had been with the school 21 years.
There is also a new kindergarten teacher in the building.
“This year I decided to take a job returning home to Southeast,” says Ramie Carlson, who is originally from Juneau. Her dad, Rich Carlson, just stepped in as interim superintendent for the Haines District.
Ramie Carlson spent a year teaching Kindergarten and first grade in Bristol Bay before coming to Haines.
“I have a three-year-old daughter and Bristol Bay did not have child care options,” says Carlson. “So I was seeking somewhere that had more options for her in terms of preschool and child care in general. So that’s kind of what brought me to Haines.”
Carlson says she’s looking forward to being back in Southeast.
“The culture of the community, I’m excited to kind of immerse myself in that. Extracurriculars, hiking, fishing. We didn’t have mountains in Bristol Bay, it’s flat,” says Carlson. “So there wasn’t really any of that. Lots of fishing which was awesome but I missed being surrounded by the mountains.”
She encourages getting families involved in the classroom.
“I’m just excited to have my little class of kindergartners and get to know all of them and their families, that connection,” says Carlson. “I’m really big on the student-family interactions in the classroom.”
Like Baumgartner, she plans to kick the school year off with a plant-related unit.
“I like to start with a berry and then salmon unit,” says Carlson. “I’m hoping to get actual plants in here. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries. And we actually do this little thing where we go picking in the classroom, it’s really fun.”
Outside of the classroom, Carlson says she’s looking forward to exploring the hiking Haines has to offer.