My Profile

My name is Greg Melvin. I am a teacher under contrat with the Brevig Mission School in Alaska. From a small town called Keefeton, OK, I undertand a little about small community outdoor life, but not as nearly as much of what I will experience in Alaska. Both of my parents teach, and I have two brothers currently attending college at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK.

Responses

  1. Hi Greg! I am currently looking into becoming an elementary teacher with the BSSD. I have applied and have been entered into the candidate pool. Of course, I understand that living in the Alaskan bush is a huge adventure. I was wondering if you could tell me a little more about it. I really enjoy the outdoors and live in a “cold” part of New York, although I cannot imagine the cold that far north. Are there any things you can tell me that might not be easy to find on the web? Also, any tips you have for the interviews, etc would be great. I have been looking into the Alaskan bush for several months now and am hoping to get a job this fall. Thanks for any tips you might have!

    • Hi Angela,

      For myself, the “huge adventure” in your post is an understatement. It’s a way of life, a way of living unlike anything I’ve experienced before, nor even thought possible. I came from small town Oklahoma – literally an “Okie from Muskogee.” Long story short, obviously noted from my out-dated blog, I made my way up here. Unless you might not have read, I am the special ed teacher up in Brevig Mission – about an hour’s flight from Nome. Now coming to your question, it is hard to answer without any specifics. If you would like more focused answers than that which I have listed below, post another blog or e-mail me at gmelvin@kts.bssd.org.

      First huge ordeal I learned was food supply. I highly recommend (should you get hired via BSSD) to attend the Welcome Wagon. While not exactly a formal introduction to the school district, there are quite a few seasoned teachers that will help you pick out the right food supplies, along with other housing essentials. You can obviously note that from my Sam’s buggy, at least each one. For myself and my roommate, we spent around $1,000 total for food and supplies (shipping included). We then went to the post office, where we spent an hour or two tubbing the items we bought. Once you get to the village, you will likely buy your food via online. Grocery stores are expensive, and are not extensive. Fred Meyers, Sam’s Club, Costco, and several specialty meat and food websites are often used. Plan ahead – for I made the mistake that it took a week or two for my food from Anchorage to get to my village – Brevig Mission. Luckily, on my way through Nome or somewhere, I picked up some small food items and had something to eat. Frozen food costs additional freight, milk is rarely fresh (unless you get the square carton type), and eggs/bread run out very fast in the local store. In addition, it feels like my village is particularly addicted in a way to pop.

      I got my winter gear in October just before the snow came in – and yes, I have about five foot outside my trailer right now. As a matter of fact, we’ve just been going through several moderate blizzards lately. Yesterday, I could have sworn the snow drift outside one part of my trailer in the morning was one foot shorter than it had when I got lunch. Cabella’s and Bass Pro Shops are the stores I’ve bought from – and you usually get them within several weeks.

      Check with your village – research it – for some villages have no roads (like mine), and some villages have no running water directly to the trailer. We have teacher housing. Some are nicer, and you can hear a variety of likes/dislikes from people when you ask them about a certain village. Brevig Mission, personally, I think is the best (don’t tell that to the other sites lol). I have quite a few reasons. One, we have free roam outside the village – no charge, several small mountains out back, and mountain ranges on both the east and west.

      As for tips with interviews, I honestly thought my first few were terrible. I was a fresh college graduate, did one in Seattle, and several phone interviews. However, coming down here I found out it really wasn’t that bad. Actually – quite the opposite, and I still don’t understand why. But that’s me… So, I would not be the best. My only suggestion, speak what you truly feel like and want in the bush teaching. Don’t attempt to gain the interviewer’s interest by overstating what you like in Alaska. I did not do that myself. I just don’t want you to come and then say to yourself, “This is not for me.” This place is not for everyone, but I guarantee there is nothing else like it in the world. It does seem like a third-world country, and you have a whole new set of problems that you WILL NOT find in the states. I did not get culture shock coming into bush Alaska. I got it when I went back home for Christmas.

      Feel free to ask more, and I hope you find what you want. By the way, I checked out your blog – are you in South Korea now or New York…kinda confused.

      Anyways, hope this helps,

      Greg Melvin

  2. Greg, just got back to South Florida from our tour of the Yukon and Alaska, It was nice meeting you on the flight to Anchorage. Hope your cat was alright !
    Hugh and Diane

    • Thanks – He made the trip well. A bit shaken, but doing alright. I’m glad you got to make it up this way!

  3. Hey there! This post could not be wrritten any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my oold room
    mate! He always kept talking about this. I wil forward this artticle to
    him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanmks for sharing!

    • Thank you for sharing!!

  4. Hi there! I have really enjoyed reading your blog! OK, I am curious about one thing…since you have that 40lb limit, so what do you buy regularly at the “local” village store, and what do buy specially when you’re out and about at the BIG store in Unalakleet or Nome or whatever?? Just wondering! Best of luck to you and yours!!

    • Hi Tom,

      At our village store, I sometimes buy a loaf of bread (as you would from any other store) simply for taste preferences. I also get eggs, as the store can easily run out of them for long periods. I finally look for any unique items that don’t usually arrive in the store, or for any item on sale. At the larger stores, I’ll grab frozen meat products, sometimes pressurized can items, fruit, and anything else that’s likely cheaper than my village store

      • wow that sounds a little tough…thanks for your reply..what a challenging life you have chosen…as the comic book guy on the Simpsons says….best… blog… ever..!


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