‘Inspiring a Passion for STEM on the Western Edge of Alaska: The GEAR UP Program in BSSD’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative is one of the largest national programs for increasing the college and career readiness of low-income students in the U.S. Focused on middle and high school students, GEAR UP helps empower local partnerships comprised of K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and community organizations to achieve three strategic goals: (1) increasing the postsecondary expectations and readiness of students; (2) improving high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates; and (3) raising the knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation, and financing among students and families.

The Rural Alaska GEAR UP Partnership serves students in Alaska’s two largest rural school districts; Bering Strait (BSSD) and Lower Kuskokwim (LKSD) in western Alaska. The partnership is supported by the Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN). ASDN’s founder Kelly Tonsmeire serves as the Rural Alaska GEAR UP Partnership Project Director.

Bering Strait School District sits on the western edge of Alaska.

The Bering Strait School District (BSSD) serves 15 village communities, the majority of which are only accessible by plane or, in the case of Diomede, by helicopter. The district is geographically one of the largest in the United States, encompassing an area of 80,000 square miles. BSSD’s GEAR UP program serves a cohort of 556 students in grades 6-9 and prides itself that their program is highly responsive the needs and ambitions of its students. Continue reading ‘Inspiring a Passion for STEM on the Western Edge of Alaska: The GEAR UP Program in BSSD’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN

‘Preparing for College And Flying Drones: The Gear Up Program in LKSD’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative is one of the largest national programs focused on increasing the college and career readiness of low-income students in the U.S.

Focused on middle and high school students, GEAR UP helps empower local partnerships comprised of K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and community organizations to achieve three strategic goals:

  • (1) increasing the postsecondary expectations and readiness of students;
  • (2) improving high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates; and
  • (3) raising the knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation, and financing among students and families.

The Rural Alaska GEAR UP Partnership serves students in the state’s two largest rural school districts, Lower Kuskokwim (LKSD) and Bering Strait (BSSD) in western Alaska. The partnership is supported by the Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN). ASDN’s founder Kelly Tonsmeire serves as the Rural Alaska GEAR UP Partnership Project Director. Continue reading ‘Preparing for College And Flying Drones: The Gear Up Program in LKSD’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN

‘Baby Raven Reads Visits Evergreen Elementary School in Wrangell’ by Assistant Principal Jenn Miller-Yancey

Evergreen Elementary School students gather to read ’10 Sitka Herring’

Recently at the Evergreen Elementary School library in Wrangell, Alaska, we had a special guest from the Baby Raven Reads program, Delilah Ramirez. Baby Raven Reads is a reading program through Sealaska Heritage that promotes early literacy, language development and school readiness for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5. Continue reading ‘Baby Raven Reads Visits Evergreen Elementary School in Wrangell’ by Assistant Principal Jenn Miller-Yancey

The Our Alaskan Schools Blog Celebrates Its First Year! by Sam Jordan at ASDN

Highlighting and celebrating public education in Alaska is a privilege. Over the past year, the Our Alaskan Schools blog has hosted over 50 unique education stories from across Alaska, most written by educators themselves. To celebrate our first year, here is a brief recap of our ten most viewed stories about the ‘great things happening in Alaska’s schools’.

Continue reading The Our Alaskan Schools Blog Celebrates Its First Year! by Sam Jordan at ASDN

‘The Importance of K-12 libraries in Alaska’ by Tana Martin, Librarian/Media Specialist at Tanana Middle School

“We love kids. We love books. We love to serve.” This was a recent consensus made by the combined library staff in Fairbanks North Star Borough School District as to why we work in a school library. And that, my friends, is why K-12 school libraries are important. Kids need love. Kids need books. Kids need help. 

Tanana Middle, Fairbanks – Just Dance Fridays during lunch: Lunch in the library is a Tanana staple. The crowd varies daily from 30-70 students. Just Dance Fridays are icing on the cake. It’s a time to get the wiggles out, and be comfortable in their own skin. (Photo courtesy of Tana Martin @runnergirlT)

Continue reading ‘The Importance of K-12 libraries in Alaska’ by Tana Martin, Librarian/Media Specialist at Tanana Middle School

DVR’s ‘Health Career Connections’ for Students with Disabilities by Jim Kreatschman

This past December, high school students from Petersburg, the MatSu valley, Shaktoolik and Kotzebue attended ‘Health Career Connections’ in Juneau. Health Career Connections is designed to give students who experience disabilities an opportunity to explore all facets of the healthcare industry to determine if a career in healthcare is in line with their personal interests, skills and abilities. This program is part of the Alaska State Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s (DOLWD) investment in supporting school age students through its Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) Transition Program.

Students learned health care skills at the Health Career Connections program in Juneau.

Continue reading DVR’s ‘Health Career Connections’ for Students with Disabilities by Jim Kreatschman

The Alaska Professional Learning Network (AkPLN) by Tammy Morris at ASDN

The sheer size of Alaska is daunting:

  • 663,300 square miles
  • 1420 miles, north to south, and 2500 miles, east to west
  • 640 square miles of land for every mile of paved road
  • 1 person per square mile

For educators across the state, many of whom who live off the road system, the need for online connection and collaboration is critical for their continued development as K-12 professionals. The the Alaska Professional Learning Network (AkPLN) is meeting that need for many of Alaska’s educators.

The AkPLN is in its 4th year of service, and continues to grow in resources and membership. The goal of AkPLN is to provide Alaskan educators valuable professional development by offering resources like curated video content and focused learning plans with an online platform to network and support each other. AkPLN currently has 2200+ members and 60+ open learning plans. Continue reading The Alaska Professional Learning Network (AkPLN) by Tammy Morris at ASDN

Akiak School Strives to Support Culture! by Middle School Teacher Alberta Demantle

Akiak is a predominately Yupik village located on the west bank of the Kuskokwim River. It is rich in culture with a heavy reliance on subsistence.

Highbush cranberries are picked by the gallons in August to make delicious jams.

Students at the Akiak School in the Yupiit School District are involved in many subsistence activities that take place in a particular season. Students learn at home what is “in” season, how to care for food, and about respecting nature: animals, plants and the environment. The Akiak School supports the culture by preparing subsistence foods to share with elders and families, experiencing the hard work involved in subsistence, and the value of hard work. Continue reading Akiak School Strives to Support Culture! by Middle School Teacher Alberta Demantle

The ‘Love Alaska’ Project by Sarah Petersen and Lisa Longlet at Bowman Elementary School

We are an energetic group of fifty 3rd and 4th graders at Bowman Elementary School in the Anchorage School District who make up S & L’s (Sarah and Lisa’s) family group. Our ‘Alaska Love’ project is an activity for elders (grade 4 students) that allows them to share one of their special Alaskan experiences with our family group. While youngers (3rd graders) don’t present, they look forward to being an elder the following year and having their chance to share their special family memory. The academic focus of the project is writing a personal narratives, public speaking, and Alaska geography.  Continue reading The ‘Love Alaska’ Project by Sarah Petersen and Lisa Longlet at Bowman Elementary School

‘Alaskan Schools Prepare for Next Week’s Hour of Code’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN

 

Each December schools around Alaska and around the world set aside time for an activity called the ‘Hour of Code‘ that helps to demystify what it means to write computer code and to show that anybody can learn the basics of computer science. The 2019 Hour of Code runs December 9th – 15th. The theme for this year’s Hour of Code is #CSforGood, recognizing that computer coding can help solve many critical problems in the world. Continue reading ‘Alaskan Schools Prepare for Next Week’s Hour of Code’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN