Jesse Bjorkman

Assisted by Dylan Hooper

— Nikiski Middle High School, Nikiski —

Jesse Bjorkman knows to never waste food or a good learning opportunity; that’s how he discovered another great use for moose meat — as a teaching aide.

Teachers Jesse and Dylan Hooper both taught an outdoor education class at Nikiski Middle School, which has turned many unusual settings into classrooms, including a garage prepped for butchering a moose harvested days earlier.

On this particular day, students learned some anatomy, some safe knife handling skills and various local and indigenous uses for the meat and other parts of the moose.

In the class, students learn survival skills for the outdoors like orienteering and keeping game meat cool, clean, and dry. Also students learn other survival skills for life, like being a part of a team, building relationships, and the importance of practicing ethics.

Most of the time, he’s teaching history, but even then, the subject matter is only part of it.

“The best way that I feel I can prepare my students for being adult members of our community is by instilling, encouraging and reinforcing Alaskan values,” Jesse says.

"It is my goal to make sure that students know how to be good people and responsible Alaskans. Students must understand the importance of being trustworthy, truthful, and on-time. Students need to know the importance of having a good work ethic and the rewards that hard work and perseverance bring. As an educator, I feel responsible to prepare my students with the right skills to meet real world challenges.”

Jesse teaches what he knows and what he lives. His dedication to his students shapes his union involvement as well. He feels that union membership gives him a voice to advocate for his students.

“It’s pretty easy for a governmental organization to ignore one person who’s raising a concern, but through my teachers’ association, I’m able to elevate that concern and speak through a larger group of professionals to the concerns we see with our students,” Jesse said.

“At the end of the day, NEA-Alaska is listening to us and taking our concerns seriously.  Through the association we are able to support our students and enrich their lives through authentic education with a stronger voice together. That’s why it’s critical to be a part of the team.”

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