Filipinos number more than half of an Alaska school district’s teachers
More than half of the teachers at Kuspuk School District in Alaska – 20 out of 39 — were recruited from the Philippines, according to KYUK public radio report.
In Lower Kuskokwim School District, 10 out of 82 new teachers hired this year are from the Philippines. Both school districts used the same recruitment agency last year called the Alaska Teacher Placement Agency.
Kuspuk School District Superintendent James Anderson said that he was not specifically looking for applicants from the Philippines. It just turned out that “nearly all of the best and most experienced of them” were from Southern Philippines and speak a Bisayan language as their native language.
Reporter Olivia Ebertz spoke to some of the Filipino teachers now working for the district.
Rovan Agad, who arrived in October last year, teaches math and coaches junior varsity basketball at the Aniak high school. He told Ebertz a minor injury delayed his arrival for two months and he had to teach by Zoom from from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m., Philippines time.
Agad applied to teach in Alaska because his former school shut down during the pandemic.
Jay Mojello, a second grade teache, told Ebertz that like other teachers, he came for the salary, which is about 10 times more than in the Philippines. Mojello needed to pay off his debt and send money back to his family.
So did Kaycee Limod, a sixth grade teacher, who made an extra difficult decision to leave her husband and two-year-old child in the Philippines. Limod said that either she’ll join her family back in the Philippines, or she’ll bring them to Alaska.
The teachers said that compared with student in the Philippines, students in Aniak did not always listen to their teachers. At first, Limod said, she would cry after class for feeling ineffective. But she’s now used to the different behavior and takes it in stride.
Limod shares a four-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with Agad, Mojello and another Filipino teacher to help them save on costs.
The teachers have until March 4 to let the school know if they’ll be returning for the 2022-23 school year. They haven’t decided yet whether they’ll stay in Aniak for another school year.
The only thing they dislike is the nearly-hour-long walk to school on cold, dark winter mornings, and the lack of emergency medical care available in the community.
But if they leave they would miss their students and the camaraderie, they told Ebertz.