Future teachers group chats with Murkowski

Sixteen Future Teachers of Alaska students from the Barrow school system held a teleconference with Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski on April 28.
Fifth-graders from Ipalook Elementary School, eighth-graders from Eben Hopson Middle School, and 11th- and 12th-graders from Barrow High School called in with their advisers and Martha Stackhouse, program director from Ilisagvik College.
The Future Teachers of Alaska program is a cooperative effort between Ilisagvik College and the North Slope Borough School District aimed at growing local teachers within the district. Fifth-grade students receive guidance from FTA advisors both in the classroom and after school, and FTA students from the eighth grade up have the opportunity to travel to attend conferences on education. College students also participate in the program through the Teachers for the Arctic program, also headed by Stackhouse.
Despite some technical difficulties (the event was originally scheduled to be a videoconference), the students whole-heartedly decided to go ahead as planned using working teleconference equipment. Stackhouse assigned the pre-selected questions to students from each age group and hands shot up around the room as almost every student was eager to seize the chance to speak with the senator. Murkowski seemed equally as eager to speak with the students, empathizing with their goals by saying “if I wasn’t in the U.S. Senate, I would do what my grandmother did and be a teacher.”
The students asked a variety of questions, from basic legislative procedures to the effect of alternative energy sources on Alaska state revenue to the economic stimulus bill. Murkowski answered each question with thoughtful consideration and remarked that she “appreciate[d] the wide range of questions: local, national, and international.”
As the conference came to a close, the students asked the senator if there were any internships available for FTA students in the White House. Though not specific to Teachers for Alaska, the news that internships for 20 high school students to work in Murkowski’s office were available each summer seemed to intrigue even the younger students.
“I want to do what I can to encourage our young people, especially Alaska Natives, to become teachers,” Murkowski said.

By:  Kayla Jeffress