The Unalaska City School District opened its doors to students once again last month. And along with new mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand-washing measures, the district has welcomed six new teachers.
When I spoke with Bill Carroll, Unalaska's new junior high and high school resource teacher, the word "fishing" was the most frequently used word in our conversation, surfacing a total of 24 times.
And after just a couple of minutes, it was clear that if Carroll wasn't thinking or talking about fishing, he had teaching on his mind.
"I built a fishing lesson into [a class] on the scientific method today," said Carroll, when I spoke to him on Thursday, about a week into the start of the new school year. "[I] drew a picture of how we'd use one bait on one side of the boat and a different bait on the other side of the boat, and [then] do an experiment."
Carroll said he arrived in Unalaska in mid-July, but he'd been in Alaska since June 1, slowly fishing his way over and up from Milwaukee.
He said Alaska has always intrigued him. And while it may be a far cry from Wisconsin or Costa Rica—where he lived and managed a bed and breakfast with his family for seven years—Alaska seems to fit Carroll's enthusiasm for adventure—and of course fishing—incredibly well.
Now that his son and daughter are independent and "on their merry ways," said Carroll, he felt ready to find somewhere new to explore—and Unalaska repeatedly captivated his attention.
"I started doing some research and had a list of places," explained Carroll. "I had a latitude that I was kind of keeping things in and just kept scrolling my map over to Unalaska, and going, 'Hmm—that one looks interesting.' I just kept coming back to it and started researching. And so I reached out, and that kind of started the whole love affair with this place."
Carroll went to school at Arizona State University in Phoenix. After graduating, he said he worked at the University of Phoenix as a policy administrator and faculty member for sixteen years, before moving to Costa Rica.
According to Carroll, teaching wasn't always his first choice in terms of careers. It was something he'd grown up around, but when he returned to the United States, he said, teaching just seemed like a fitting choice.
"I came back and got into the family business, which is teaching," said Carroll. "My mom was a teacher for 30 years [for] fifth grade and fourth grade. My sister's still a teacher, in her like 30th year in Milwaukee, [in] special education."
Now that the school year has begun, Carroll said his number one focus is teaching, but he still plans to make time for fishing. And while he'll spend more time indoors now that summer vacation is over, his adventurous drive hasn't been deflated, but simply rerouted into the classroom.
"It's the job that's never done," he said. "And that's what makes it exciting, you know, just trying new things."