Twenty-five years ago Karla Kaestner graduated from Paonia High School. This past Monday Karla Kaestner Moxley returned as a math teacher in the same classroom where long ago as a student she learned typewriting from Don Hinson.
Karla Moxley grew up in Paonia, graduating from Paonia High School in 1988. She went to Mesa State and then Capella State in Minneapolis. "I did my master's online and I did all my administrative hours in Barrow, Alaska," she said.
Karla started going to Alaska when she was in college. On summer breaks she worked in Alaska as a housekeeper for a fly-in fishing lodge and later worked at a fish plant.
"When I graduated from college, I went up there for good." She taught for a few years and then was a stay-at-home-mom for a while. Sadly, her first marriage ended in divorce.
When she remarried, her husband, Kyle Moxley, was in the military. He was stationed in Fairbanks at Ft. Wainwright. Later he was restationed at Ft. Riley in Kansas. He served in Iraq from Decemaber 2003 until late March of 2004. At that time, an IED explosion sent shrapnel through his right arm, severing his artery and nerves. Miraculously, his arm was saved. Kyle also suffered a moderate brain trauma injury.
Today as a disabled vet, Kyle and Karla are giving other vets the thrilling experience of hunting in Alaska. Karla and Kyle have lived in Barrow, Alaska, for the last five years.
"When we moved back to Alaska there wasn't a whole lot of things for veterans to do as outreach," Karla said. "So my husband and I and a friend of ours decided to pursue developing a non-profit organization for veterans."
For the first year, they did all the necessary paperwork and named their organization "Helping American Veterans Experience Alaska." Through fundraising and a grant from Wounded Warriors, the trio brought 10 disabled veterans to Alaska to hunt black and brown bears.
"It was the first year it was legal for people wheelchair-bound or similarly disabled to hunt brown bears over a bait station," she explained. Two of the vets were able to take two very large brown bears that year.
"Both veterans were double leg amputees and we were able to set them up in ground blinds; that way they could go hunting. All the other guys got their black bears. Since then, we've been able to take vets fishing, sightseeing and flightseeing. Two summers ago I took a group of caregivers, wives of disabled vets, on a halibut fishing trip out of Seward. It was absolutely amazing," Karla said.
Karla and Kyle plan to continue fundraising for their outreach to vets while in Paonia.
One of the reasons they returned to Paonia was because of their children. They have two seniors, one freshman, an eighth grader, a third grader and a baby. Neither of their older kids wanted to go to college in Alaska. So moving back to the lower 48 states made sense.
The move back means that Karla and her family will be close to her mother and stepfather who live in Crawford.
While Karla's bachelor's and master's degrees are in science, she'll be teaching students in ninth through 12th grades algebra 2, college algebra, pre-calculus, pre-college algebra and trigonometry.
"When I went to college, I didn't anticipate being a teacher. I went to college to be a computer programmer," she said. But around her junior year Karla discovered she really wanted to teach. She only had one year left and didn't feel she could change her major. When she graduated she taught at a private Christian school for three years. Then she went back to earn her teaching degree through Wichita State when her husband was restationed in Kansas.
"While he was deployed, I started getting my teaching degree through an alternate certification program through Wichita State."
Now she has come full circle back to Paonia High School, where her largest class will have 20 students. She is co-sponsor of the freshman class. She won't be coaching this year. She has previously coached volleyball, basketball, tennis and track.
"I've always taught high schoolers with a few eighth graders mixed in if they were ready for higher math," Karla said. She looks at her class rosters and sees some last names that are very familiar.
Her teaching in Barrow, Alaska, gave her some unique experiences. "We had 30 days with no sunlight. In the spring we had early release times for whaling ... it's part of their culture and heritage. They would go whaling for bowhead whales and it's a big deal. It's an amazing thing to experience."
Karla enjoys hunting moose, bear and caribou. She's caught a lot of fish in Alaska.
Since finishing her master's, she gets to read books she wants to read now. In the last year she read historical novels on Henry VIII. She credits her high school English teacher, Sharon Ziegler, for instilling a love of the era. "She made that type of history so intriguing, it always stuck with me."
No doubt this year, Karla Moxley wants to make algebra and trigonometry as intriguing and satisfying to her students.blog comments powered by Disqus