Last week the UAF Kuskokwim Campus had a workshop with Jerry Lipka and Dora Andrew-Ihrke from UAF’s Math in a Cultural Context program. We talked about the Yup’ik ideas of math as measuring, halving, and measuring in two dimensions. I made this video to help demonstrate that these two shapes, and isosceles right triangle and a rectangle, constructed by folding from a square, have the same area.
My name is Nicholas Kwiek. Most people call me Nick; some call me Kwiek. (My last name sounds like Nestlé chocolate milk mix.) On Facebook I tag myself as “a stay-at-home dad who happens to teach Alaskan adults algebra, among other things.” My son was born last March. When my wife, a high school Physics teacher, went back to school in August, I changed my work schedule to stay home with him. Next week I have to go back to the day shift, since my wife will be home during the day for the summer to watch him—I am not looking forward to it.
I have, more or less, tumbled into this life. They speak of doors closing and opening, and that is exactly how I ended up here. I think my life stopped going as planned some time in college. I went from being an A student in high school to being a C student in college. I got in a car accident my senior year that, along with my disorganized life, pushed back my graduation by a semester. (But I got to be there to watch my classmates walk and hear the original delivery of “This is water.”) I had transitioned from being a Math major, to a Math and History double-major, to an History major. I think the college was happy to see me go. My plan of going on to graduate school for Math evaporated. I went home and worked in a sandwich shoppe for a few years, and studied Theology at the local Dominican college, because it interested me.
The doors started swinging and slamming louder when I left the sandwich shoppe and became a substitute teacher. It wasn’t my first gig in education, but it was decidedly a five-year series of gigs, not a job. I taught everything, and I loved it. (My second week teaching, a sixth grader asked me, “Mr. Kwiek, how are you good at Spanish and Art?” I replied with irony no one else in the room understood, “I’m a history major.”) I took other jobs—working as a youth minister, an outdoor educator, a coordinator at a small non-profit, and a high school religion teacher—all of which promised to be more stable and rewarding than substitute teaching, but something always went wrong and I ended up back there. On one such occasion, I left my job as an outdoor educator to become a long-term sub in a high school science classroom. The next week, I met my future wife, another new teacher in the science department.
A few months later, the next fall, she and I went on a weekend camping road trip (catching a bluegrass concert, stopping at a few breweries, and visiting a couple state parks) for our first date. We talked about moving to Alaska. We both wanted to, but we were both in jobs we liked. Of course, we were relieved of those jobs the following spring, so off we went. I applied for a teaching-while-training program so that I could become a high school math teacher, but before the application deadline, I was informed the my program was canceled. The regional adult basic education program scooped me up, and soon I was working as a career guide, flying to villages to teach driver’s education and teaching weeklong GED math workshops.
When my job was threatened by an ending grant, I applied for a staff position at the local UAF campus. When my job was secured, I withdrew my application, but got a phone call asking me if I would be interested in teaching a math class. And so I came to work for UAF. In 2014, during the day I taught math, mostly algebra, to students preparing for the GED tests, and in the evening I taught pre-algebra at the college. That arrangement changed in 2015, and I started teaching distance classes for UAF, so I was privileged to participate in the iTeach workshop last May. It was after that workshop that I discovered the Online Innovation and Design program and realized that it would be right for me.
This fall, I will be leaving my full-time job, not entirely by choice, to be a full-time stay-at-home dad. I will still be teaching at the college, and I love spending my days with my son. A door in my career closed; but just today, I heard another pop open down the hall.
My son is named for the patron saint of brewers, theologians, printers, and sore eyes. That might say a little about my hobbies and interests. My wife and I bonded over craft beer and we brew our own. Getting a license to sell it has been discussed. I used to study and teach Catholic theology—the kind that is often mistaken for socialism. You might find me agitating for any number of causes: human rights (especially refugees, of late), the environment, education, responsible energy and economic policies, social justice of all kinds, and of course PEACE. I hope to use this website as a platform for sharing my ideas, perhaps when I finish using it as a platform for sharing my school work.
I don’t have a private web presence. You can see me everywhere—or at least see that I am there.
A list of the breweries that my wife and I have visited since 2011
Dates given are first visits. We have been back to a few.
Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, March 2011 HopCat, Grand Rapids, March 2011 North Peak, Traverse City, October 2011 Shorts, Bellaire, October 2011 Tahquamenon Brewery, Tahquamenon Falls, October 2011 New Holland Brewing Company, Holland, October 2011 Michigan Brewing Company, Lansing, October 2011 Harpers, East Lansing, November 2011 Schmoz, Grand Rapids, November 2011 Hideout Brewing, Grand Rapids, November 2011 Jamesport Brewery, Ludington, December 2011 Blackrocks Brewing, Marquette, Decemer 2011 The Library, Houghton, December 2011 Keweenaw Brewing Company, Houghton, December 2011 Red Jacket Brewing Company (Michigan House), Calumet, Dec. 2011 Jasper Ridge Brewery, Ishpeming, December 2011 Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City, January 2012 Mackinaw Brewing Company, Traverse City, January 2012 Harmony Brewing, Grand Rapids, February 2012 Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids, March 2012 Old Boys Brewery, Spring Lake, March 2012 Rochester Mills Beer Company, Troy, April 2012 Odd Sides Ales, Grand Haven, May 2012 The BOB, Grand Rapids, July 2012 Stone Cellar, Appleton, August 2012 [Goose Island, O’Hare, August 2012] Glacier Brewhouse, Anchorage, August 2012 Midnight Sun, Anchorage, August 2012 Broken Tooth Brewing Co. (Moose’s Tooth), Anchorage, Dec. 2012 Sleeping Lady Brewing Co. (Snow Goose), Anchorage, December 2012 King Street, Anchorage, February 2013 Saint Elias, Soldotna, June 2013 Kenai River Brewing Company, Kenai, June 2013 Kassik’s Brewing Company, Nikiski, June 2013 Seward Brewing Company, Seward, June 2013 Silver Gulch Brewing Company, Fox, July 2013 Hoo Doo, Fairbanks, July 2013 Homer Brewing Company, Homer July 2013 Last Frontier Brewing Company, Wasilla, July 2013 Denali Brewing Company, Talkeetna, July 2013 49th State Brewing Company, Healy, August 2013 Goose Island, Wrigleyville, August 2013 Perrin Brewing Company, Comstock Park, September 2013 Arkose, Palmer, October 2013 Brickside Brewery, Copper Harbor, June 2014 Mickey Finn’s Brewery, Libertyville, June 2014 *Drank Galway Hooker in various pubs in Galway and Dooliner in pubs in Doolin, June 2014 Guinness, St. James Gate, Dublin July 2014 Sweetwater, Dublin, July 2014 Porterhouse, Dublin, July 2014 Franciscan Well, Cork, July 2014 *Drank Founders in Dublin, July 2014 Anchorage Brewing Company, Anchorage, August 2015 Resolution Brewing Company, Anchorage, August 2015 Going to Kodiak next week!
A list of inputs: things I read and listen to
Truthout National Catholic Reporter Mother Jones The New York Times (when I can get it free)
NPR, Alaska Public Media, and KYUK NPR Politics Podcast On Being The Writer’s Almanac
Ask Me Another
A list of the apps on my iPhone home screen, in their order
Google Calendar Contacts Google Maps Weather NPR News NPR One Videos (The only video is “Mahna Mahna.”) Music Facebook [Google] Drive [Google] Classroom [Blackboard] Mobile Learn [Facebook] Messenger Google+ [Google] Hangouts Twitter Alaska [Airlines] Alaska USA App Store Settings