Warren Wilson College News

For schoolteacher Ben Seymour, it’s south to Alaska

By: Ben Anderson
Ben Seymour ’02 has headed south this fall, “south” clearly being a relative term in this case. After three years of teaching elementary-school students on Alaska’s Little Diomede Island, Seymour has moved to another assignment in the Bering Strait School District: to the village of Golovin, in the southern part of the Seward Peninsula jutting into the Bering Sea.


Although it’s not exactly the tropics, Ben reports that the village does have some willows and is surrounded by trees, in contrast to Little Diomede and its Bering Strait location near Russia and the International Date Line. Hills, lakes and lagoons can be found near Golovin and the spit of land on which it lies. The village also lies on the famous Iditarod Trail between two checkpoints. And even though most residents are of either Inupiat or Yupik Eskimo ancestry who have lived in the area for many generations, Ben says the village isn’t as traditional as Little Diomede.


But there are similarities between the villages too, such as the fact that each has fewer than 200 residents and their schools are about the same size. Ben began teaching this fall at Martin L. Olson School, home of the Lynx, which serves more than 50 students in preschool through 12th grade. He writes, “I’m excited about this new placement.” He is teaching about 10 students from grades two through four.


Ben, who was profiled in the national publication Teacher Magazine in 2003, had some of his most memorable experiences shortly before leaving Little Diomede this past spring. An elementary-school ski meet that he organized on the island made The Associated Press distribution network, and the story was picked up by papers in the lower 48 and even by CBS. Just three days later, Diomede hunters caught a 32-foot bowhead whale, the first one in six years. “That was fun to help with,” Ben reports.


No doubt, more fun and hard work lie ahead for Ben Seymour as he works farther “south.”



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