Aloha Hawaii, aloha Illinois


Photo by Photo used with permission of Jordan Addison

Jordan Addison, new English teacher, stands with his students in Alaska. His students wear their school spirit in form of t-shirts and hoodies as he supports the team.

If you could go anywhere in the U.S. to pursue your job, where would you go? Probably not a small town in Illinos; most likely it would be a more intriguing place. Jordan Addison, a new English teacher, taught in Alaska and in Hawaii, but after experiencing those vastly different climates and cultures, he chose to move to Illinois.

“My first teaching job was on a really small Native Alaskan village and remote area. There were no roads or stores, or anything. We had to fly into the village and then we were kind of just stuck there until a plane could come to get us again,” Addison said.

Despite being “stuck there” Alaska was a place Addison came to love, but he chose to/wanted to experience a different place.

“It was wonderful [to teach in Alaska]. I loved my job. [However,] there [were] only two teachers for the entire High School, so I taught basically everything except science and math. I was also in charge of student government and all the dances, so it was a lot of work. After two years of living where it’s minus 55, and there’s no one around and doing all that work, I just decided it was all too much. My time was up,” Addison said.

Addison decided to go to Hawaii next, where he would not be as overwhelmed.

“You know, there were roads and like 2 million people in Hawaii, so it was the complete opposite of where I’d been teaching before,” Addison said. “ [But] It was super hot all the time, very, very crowded, and expensive.

For these reasons, he decided to move on to a new place after about a year. Both places had their benefits to Addison, but “Alaska has been [my] favorite” place to teach, according to Addison.

“In Alaska, the whole community was involved in the school. So we were always together, [creating] a sense of community that was missing for me in Hawaii,” Addison said.

From Alaska and Hawaii, Addison gained experience and learned a lot of things that you can’t learn from just reading books. So, not only was Addison teaching, but he was being taught.

“It’s been a challenge [teaching in such different places] because I have had to learn about the cultures that I was with so that I didn’t do anything offensive, or to make sure that I wasn’t expecting my students to assimilate to my culture [in order] to be respectful of the way that they were raised and the way they lived,” Addison said. “There’s a lot of learning involved. It was a challenge, but it was worth it.”

All of his experiences led Addison to decide to find somewhere in the Midwest to live and teach kids English. He chose Illinois from other teachers’ recommendations, deciding it was the perfect place for him.

“I’m going to stay here for a while. I’m really tired of moving. I always like to stay in one place for a while and I think a lot of the educators at Lake Zurich are people I can learn from and better myself (my teaching practice) and go further with my career,” Addison said.

Addison has now put his wild teaching adventures behind him and therefore decided on a small town in Illinois where he can use all his wisdom from Hawaii and Alaska to impact his new students.

“I think the biggest thing that I learned from being in Alaska is that it is really difficult to do [things successfully] alone. You always need to rely on other people and do things together,” Addison said. “The biggest thing I learned from Hawaii would probably be to meet students where they are, and then support them to get them to where you want them to be. [Also] I’ve already been talking with Miss Wagner about new stuff we can do in World Lit since I’ve been all these places.”