Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy met with local Filipino teachers from different Alaska school districts in honor of Filipino History Month. Alaska is home to more than 30,000 Filipino Americans – who are one of the largest Asian American groups in the state. In 2009, U.S. Congress recognized October as Filipino American History Month in the United States.
When Alaska was faced with the national teacher shortage due to the pandemic, many school districts in Alaska were scrambling to fill the gaps in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 100 Filipino teachers arrived in Alaska to fill those roles in our state’s school district.
“We appreciate you all coming over here to teach,” said Governor Dunleavy to the group. “Teaching has its challenges, even in the Philippines, but then you come to America and there’s a new set of challenges with some different cultural aspects. For some of you who are teaching in rural Alaska, you are faced with an entirely different culture from your own. We recognize that this was not an easy decision to make, but we thank you for coming here and teaching Alaska’s youth.”
The meet and greet took place at the Atwood Building in Anchorage where Governor Dunleavy thanked the teachers for their dedication and sacrifice in leaving their hometowns to teach in Alaska. There were teachers from Tudor Elementary, Ptarmigan Elementary School, Willard L Bowman Elementary, Lower Yukon School District, Lake Otis Elementary School and the Kake City school district. Also in attendance was the Philippine Honorary Consul Rebecca Carrillo and Deputy Commissioner Nelson San Juan from the Department of Labor.
Before being elected, Governor Dunleavy spent nearly two decades in northwest Arctic communities working as a teacher, principal and superintendent. After commending the group for their work, he posed a question to the group about why they wanted to teach in Alaska. Cely Labadan, a teacher from the Kake City School District in Southeast Alaska, said that “teaching is a matter of passion and something that you do in your heart. No matter where you go, it’s a passion.”