Story contributed by Mrs. Snow
Mrs. Snow’s third-grade class at the Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary School “traveled” across the United States of America to learn all about our great country. On our “travels” the students wrote and presented individual state reports, made landmark maps and even created their own license plates. Additionally, they wrote business letters to each state’s Office of Tourism asking for information and learned how to address envelopes. Our special tour guide, KLR Teacher Aide Donna Masters, took the students on an adventure to see the polar bears. On our way to Alaska, she invited the students to explore Churchill, a popular spot to see Polar Bears.
The students enjoyed the stories of how her stepdad braved the elements, and the bears, by staying in a small structure on stilts for two weeks in order to observe polar bears in their natural habitat. Once they climbed the ladder to get into the structure, they were not allowed to climb down for a full two weeks, because it would be too dangerous! On a separate trip to Alaska, Ms. Masters shared how her parents came across a family who were stranded on the Alaskan Highway, and how they shared their supplies with that family, who were almost completely out of food, because they were waiting for a part for their camper to arrive. Ms. Masters also told the story of how her mother and father saved a baby girl with an extremely high fever, by putting the little one in an ice bath. The parents of the little girl were so grateful for saving their baby that they gave her mother and father a very tiny, white dog, that looked just like a baby polar bear, as payment. The puppy’s name was “Kluany,” which means “First of Our Adventure.” The pictures are priceless!
The students were amazed as Ms. Masters also shared exciting stories from her childhood with the students! She told them stories of how her parents owned a kennel, that not only took care of 40 cats and 60 dogs, but also took care of wild animals. Ms. Masters showed the children pictures from her childhood, including one where she is holding a pet raccoon that she raised from a baby! Her family also raised an orphaned mink that they fed milk with an eye dropper. When the mink was able to live on its own, they let it go by a pond. The man that owned the pond also owned a bait shop and was puzzled that there were no longer any minnows left in his pond. The man would sell the tiny fish as bait in his shop. Ms. Masters knew why — minnows are one of a mink’s favorite meals! She also told the students how her family raised fawns in their home and carried them around like real babies. One of our favorite stories was when Ms. Masters told us of how her mother smuggled a two-week-old grey wolf under her coat when she was traveling on a plane from California to New York. They named the wolf Amy and raised her in their home as their pet, just like a domesticated dog. Ms. Masters also trained teams of Siberian Huskies for sled dog races. Who knew Ms. Masters had such amazing experiences and was so knowledgeable about domestic and wild animals?
The students loved Ms. Masters’ stories about her parents’ adventures on their Alaska trip, her extraordinary childhood raising wild animals and seeing her incredible pictures. Our travels would not be possible, without the extraordinary help of Teacher Aides Mrs. Anna Tello and Mrs. Holland.