‘Timing, Timing, Timing’ – Virtual EdCamp in Fairbanks, Alaska by Christina Hum, Richard Hum & Tana Martin

Timing, both in comedy and education, is everything! After helping to organize Alaska Interior EdCamp for March 24th, 2020, we couldn’t agree more. EdCamp is a grassroot version of unconference. An opportunity for educators to come together & make connections by learning from others. There are no planned sessions. EdCamp is free & open to everyone. When participants arrive, they communicate the topics about which they hope to learn & share. Organizers use that information to quickly build the schedule board of sessions. Click here to learn more about EdCamp

One of the small group breakout sessions in the virtual EdCamp… excited educators!

Continue reading ‘Timing, Timing, Timing’ – Virtual EdCamp in Fairbanks, Alaska by Christina Hum, Richard Hum & Tana Martin

‘We Breathe!’ The Power of Calm Classroom by Linda Hulen at Bowman Elementary

What do we do in this new reality of quarantines, hunker downs, alternate work sites, and social distancing? When the numbers of sick and dying are exponentially increasing, alongside more and more friends and family losing their jobs as businesses close? How do we deal with the unprecedented changes that COVID-19 and Coronavirus cause in our daily lives? When stress, anxiety, and fear loom constantly, and normal as we’ve known it no longer exists.

We breathe. We breathe without thinking. Automatically we breathe, unless we are one of the unfortunate souls caught in the worst of Coronavirus.

Continue reading ‘We Breathe!’ The Power of Calm Classroom by Linda Hulen at Bowman Elementary

‘Preludes Program Brings Huge Benefits to the Paul Banks School’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN

For the past three years, students at the Paul Banks K-2nd Elementary School in Homer, Alaska have been spending part of their school week learning to play violin. The ‘Paul Banks Preludes’ program was inspired by the JAMM music program in Juneau, which itself was inspired by the El Sistema music program in Venezuela. Kindergarten and 1st grade students have violin sessions three times per week, while 2nd graders have optional after school sessions twice per week. The program is open to every student, including those with special needs.

Continue reading ‘Preludes Program Brings Huge Benefits to the Paul Banks School’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN

‘Celebrating Black History Month at Clark Middle School’ by Teacher Mary Wells-Brown

We celebrated Black History Month at Clark Middle School in Anchorage this year by creating a walk-through museum. The museum told the story from the days of picking cotton and sharecropping to Katheryn Johnson, the great mathematician whose life was portrayed in the recent movie, “Hidden Figures.”

Continue reading ‘Celebrating Black History Month at Clark Middle School’ by Teacher Mary Wells-Brown

A View From The Window: Our Alaskan Schools in Winter by Sam Jordan at ASDN

Alaska’s winter season is something special. Extreme. Beautiful. Unpredictable. Long. To get to and from school, many students and staff stoically suit up with the necessary hats, gloves, jackets, snow pants and boots, often traversing formidable snow berms and ice encrusted roadways. They also sometimes brave temperatures that can reach down to -65 below zero. The moving thing about Alaska’s school communities is that they embrace these realities with a special brand of Alaskan hardiness and inspired appreciation.

The Our Alaskan Schools Blog is pleased to offer ‘A View from the Window’, a showcase of visual snapshots from seven different schools across the state that highlight what students and staff are experiencing during this unique season in The Last Frontier.        

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‘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