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Getting To Know New UCSD Staff: Teresa Worthy On Embracing Unalaska's Rugged Terrain

Maggie Nelson/KUCB

The Unalaska City School District opened its doors to students once again on Aug. 19. And along with new mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand-washing measures, the district has welcomed six new teachers.


Teresa Worthy, who is teaching fifth grade math, art, and science, moved to the island earlier this summer from Teller—a community of less than 250 people, located about 70 miles Northwest of Nome.

Despite having lived in a remote coastal village before, Worthy said there is an element of adventure mixed with a welcoming community in Unalaska that piqued her interest when she visited the island roughly four years ago. 

"There was also just this allure of the Aleutians in general and how rugged and removed they are and how remote. Even though now, living here there are some struggles with that," said Worthy. "But there is still this appeal that you are in the United States, but you're just so out in the middle of the Bering Sea."

Worthy and her husband Dan Smith, who is also a new teacher with the Unalaska City School District, haven't wasted any time enjoying Unalaska’s rugged landscape. According to Worthy, they've done plenty of hiking through the tundra and biking around town since getting to the island.

"We did some trips where we were packrafting out in Beaver Inlet and hiking," said Worthy. "We did one trip where we went up into the Shaler Mountains and kind of did a big loop. So [we were] just looking at maps and seeing where we could go in the short, nice weather windows that we would have."

Worthy lived in Anchorage before moving to Teller, and is originally from Southern California. She studied art history at Boston University, and while she said she doesn't dwell much on art history content in the classroom, Worthy said her art background definitely shapes her teaching style—for all of her subjects.

"I try and make art nurture their creative side and experiment with it," explained Worthy. "And if it's something that they really like then we can pull in the history. Or in social studies I'll have an art history component. But mostly I like to just get [the students] creating."

When she has free time, which Worthy said is tougher to come by as a newer teacher at the beginning of the school year, she enjoys oil painting and drawing, cooking, baking, and getting outside to hike, run, or bike.

Worthy said people have been welcoming, and that she feels less isolated on the island as she has been able to video chat with friends and family, something that she was unable to do in Teller due to an even poorer internet connection than that found in Unalaska. And, she added, despite making the move during a pandemic, the transition into the community and new school district has been smooth.


Hailing from Southwest Washington, Maggie moved to Unalaska in 2019. She's dabbled in independent print journalism in Oregon and completed her Master of Arts in English Studies at Western Washington University — where she also taught Rhetoric and Composition courses.
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