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Watch: In Napaskiak, three generations of teachers uplift Yup’ik language and culture in the classroom

In her nearly 40 years teaching kindergarten and first grade at Napaskiak’s Z.J. Williams Memorial School, Irene Wassillie has emphasized the importance of the Yugtun language in her classroom. Now, as she prepares to retire, her legacy lives on just down the hall, where her daughter and grandson, Julia and John Sipary, teach fourth and sixth grade.

At a remote school like the Z.J. Williams Memorial School, high rates of teacher turnover can have deep impacts on the quality of a student’s education. But this “dynasty” of homegrown teachers is inspiring the next generation of Napaskiak’s youth and exemplifying commitment to community and culture.

MaryCait Dolan (she/her) is a Multimedia Producer at KYUK.