These profiles of new Unalaska City School District teachers were written by high school students in Rainier Marquez's photojournalism class. They have not been edited by KUCB staff.
Reise Wayner is the new shop teacher for Unalaska City School District. He teaches a variety of shop classes ranging from auto maintenance, welding, to woods. Mr. Wayner is no new face to Unalaska City School, as he was once a student here and now has become the teacher. He has been a lifelong resident here in Alaska, living in Southwest to Southeast and everywhere in between. His journey begins in the rural town of Naknek Bristol Bay, where both of his parents grew up and later fell in love. Mr. Wayner spent his first four years living there in Naknek Bristol Bay and later migrated to other parts of Alaska.
His father was a committed pilot to Penn Air for 25 years. His piloting skills later moved the Wayner family to Anchorage where Mr. Wayner’s father flew the Saab 240, and eventually flew the Grumman Goose, directing them here to Unalaska when Mr. Wayner was 11. He spent the next few years here in Unalaska until his 8th-grade year when he moved back to Anchorage and finished high school at Grace Christian High. At Grace Christian High, Mr. Wayner played basketball, ran cross country, and went on biking adventures on trails with his father and friends.
After high school, Mr. Wayner attended college for a couple of years. For his first year, he attended Colorado State and then moved onto Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado for another year. He started out majoring in mechanical engineering thinking it would be more “hands-on stuff” but would later find out that it was more of “all kinds of computer work.” Mr. Wayner then began switching around majors from forestry to environmental studies, which he enjoyed. “I was doing engineering classes so it wasn’t my forte per se, but it turned out alright,” explained Mr. Wayner. College was not something Mr. Wayner believed he was benefited from. He explains, “Every time I try to do something, there’s a little amount of failure involved. You can never do something perfectly right the first time, and that was probably the biggest lesson that I’ve learned. You might make a couple of mistakes, that’s fine, but you just keep on moving forward, keep on pressing on. That’s how you grow is by trying new things and failing.”
Following his college experience, Mr. Wayner decided to attend dive school from always being interested in the ocean and explains, “I didn’t know what the heck I was going to do with college.” There he got in touch with George Vernon who owns Harbor Welding since he had lived across the street from him during his time in Unalaska. That one phone call turned into another, and another, and another, which would later lead to George Vernon saying, “Okay, come on up, come on up. We got a place for you to live. You got a job.” Nine years later, Mr. Wayner finally returned to Unalaska beginning another new chapter of his life here.
Within the first year of working in Unalaska, Mr. Wayner met his wife, Finn Palmer-Wayner, who was a teacher here at Unalaska City School District. His greatest accomplishment was courting and marrying her. Following his success with his wife, they had their first son, Maliki Wayner, who is described as a “good boy” and is presently one year old. After, they moved to Juneau for a year where he worked for the university and studied in their construction tech program. He also assisted the welding professor during his time there; however, Mr. Wayner said if there was ever a job opening up here in Unalaska, he and his wife will be back in a “jiffy.” Little did they know it would be so quick. Later in March, job positions opened up and here they are!
Currently, Mr. Wayner teaches all shop classes for both junior high and high school at Unalaska City School District. His current favorite class he teaches is auto maintenance because “I’m probably learning the most with that as well.” He also teaches wood classes and welding which he believes are fun too from the different projects they are able to do. For him, junior high is great to teach as well because they are “really enthusiastic and ready to do stuff.” Mr. Wayner’s shop classes are always filled with a balance of laughter, sweat, and hard work.
Mr. Wayner has always been drawn to Unalaska from his first brush in the 5th grade. In a single word, he would describe the community as “thriving.” Unalaska has always been his home and what he believes about it is that “There’s always something going on. I enjoy that about it. It’s easy to get a little bit too busy here. So, you do get to kind of draw the line and spend time with family and it’s just a balance, you got to find them. Sometimes it goes one way, sometimes it goes the other way. And you can get more involved in the balance. It’s a great place for kids to live. Beautiful.”