Alone Together

My first grade teacher was extraordinary. A kind, older woman, she could transform her classroom into anything. I remember being a whale lost amongst my dolphin peers--trying to find other whales by undulating the weirdest noise we could collectively come up with at the time. Yet every time we played, my whale friends would come find me--or I them.

My first grade class!
The whales and dolphins in my first grade class. I'm in the front row wearing a white t-shirt.

I think she knew I would be drawn to explore the natural world, because that year she got me an Atlas--a book full of amazing places to learn from and explore. But the pages that interested me the most were the [mostly] blank ones: the polar regions. Even then, at such a young age, I knew that that's where I wanted to go.

Atlas of the World
The atlas that inspired everything. I still have it!

And now, I'm finally getting my chance!

I learned about PolarTREC while I was a pre-service teacher and I knew immediately I was going to apply. I gave myself leeway while I was a first year teacher, (and quite honestly, I missed the deadline... oops!) But this year I was determined. And finally, I received the call--I was going to Alaska!

Setting up the MISP tram
Steve Oberbauer and Jeremy May set up the Mobile Instrumented Sensor Platform (MISP) tram. Utqiaġvik, Alaska. Photo by Alejandra Martinez (PolarTREC 2019), Courtesy of ARCUS

Since then, and since COVID-19, it's been a little bit of a whirlwind. In February I was able to attend the ITEX-AON conference to meet my investigators and learn a little about the science I will be doing. Orientation was going to begin not long after: a fun trip to Colorado. But things changed very quickly (darn you Coronavirus!), and our meeting was set to be done online.

I'm still sad I didn't get to travel to Colorado, but orientation has been great so far! I feel very bonded with my cohort through the three computer screens I now have in my face several hours a day; We're all in the same boat of excitement and yet uncertainty. We are, as described by the hashtag I found on instagram yesterday, #alonetogether in this mess. Just as we will be out in the field.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Orientation From Home
My orientation Set Up, including three computers: work computer for her students, personal computer for zoom, and arcus computer for journaling practice.


Erin Towns

Love this! I like the stories of childhood and rocking pics!!!! Great to know you!

Amy Osborne

Hi Liza, I love the stories and photo of your first grade self. Wow, the power of teachers!!! Thanks for sharing.

William Henske

Hope you are hanging in there. Your PolarTrec will be so inspiring for your students.