Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Two new teachers for Haines, Klukwan schools


The Haines Borough School District and the Chatham School District each have hired two new teachers for the 2016-17 school year.

Alex Van Wyhe is the new English teacher at Haines High School. It’s his first teaching job.

Van Wyhe graduated in May from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a master’s degree in secondary education. He received his bachelor’s degree in English and history from the same school. He spent a year student-teaching at West Valley High School in Fairbanks, but is excited for his first job after graduation.

Van Wyhe is originally from Kenny Lake, and moved to Haines just before the Southeast Alaska State Fair. He said he likes small towns and the opportunities available there.

“Teaching gives you meaningful work wherever you go,” Van Wyhe said.

Van Wyhe said he knows it’s going to be a big growth year for him and his new students. He is excited to get to know students in his English classes, involve students with the Haines community and bring the community into the classroom.

“Learning doesn’t just take place within four walls,” Van Wyhe added.

Outside of school he enjoys writing, reading, gardening and canoeing and generally loves the outdoors.

Sarah Vosz, new kindergarten teacher at Haines School, has spent the last several years teaching in rural Alaska.

Vosz moved to Haines with her husband about a month ago and is originally from western New York state near Buffalo. She has family who live in Fairbanks and Wrangell, and was encouraged to move to Alaska after hearing about great opportunities for teaching in the state.

After graduating from the State University of New York at Fredonia with a degree in early childhood education, Vosz taught kindergarten in Koyuk for one year, Akiachak for one year, Nuiqsut for one year and St. Mary’s for the last five years.

She is especially excited for the opportunity for outdoor education in Haines. Vosz said she enjoys outdoor activities including fishing, hiking and biking.

Vosz said she likes kindergarten because the students are at such a fun age and they still like school and their teachers. Sometimes students start the school year barely knowing the alphabet and leave with the ability to write sentences and speak more clearly, she said.

“It’s great to see how much they progress,” Vosz said.

Experience as an environmental educator and naturalist at Glacier Bay National Park led Jessica Tipkemper, new middle school and high school teacher at Klukwan School, to pursue a degree in education 15 years ago.

After her time at Glacier Bay, Tipkemper received a master’s degree in education from Antioch University Midwest in Ohio, focusing on math and science with a reading endorsement. She transitioned into a teaching position at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio and taught college-level communications classes including public speaking, media literacy, small group communication and more.

Tipkemper earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in communications at the University of Cincinnati.

After teaching at the college level, she came back to Alaska and taught for several years at Gustavus School, also within the Chatham School District. Tipkemper said she enjoyed the small school, tight-knit community and the multi-aged classrooms and was excited that the position in Klukwan was available.

Tipkemper said she is just getting to know community members and staff, but she’s excited to participate in activities like the eulachon run, Tlingit language and dance, and science and cultural projects.

“I’m looking forward to understanding the community and what drives people in this area,” Tipkemper said.

She’s teaching grades 6 through 12, but she understands there will be a lot of partnering with other teachers and working with all the students depending on their needs.

Outside of school, Tipkemper has a 7-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter who will attend school in Haines. She enjoys kayaking, hiking and exploring and is also a classically trained trumpet player.

Frances Daly, a new elementary school teacher at Klukwan School, is excited to start her second year of teaching.

Daly spent her first year of teaching last year in Salcha near Fairbanks with a kindergarten and first-grade class.

She graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks last year with a degree in elementary education, but originally went to elementary school in Cooper Landing and graduated from Haines High School in 2009.

“I just really enjoy teaching, so I’m excited to work with new students out here,” Daly said.

Daly is responsible for K-5 classes. She said language arts is her favorite subject to teach and she’s is looking forward to working with new students on reading and writing stories.

In her free time, Daly enjoys reading, skiing, canoeing and spending time outside.


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