When Mark John, Cultural Advisor of Calista Education and Culture (CEC) and Elder from Toksook Bay, talks about his work with CEC, he stresses the importance of engaging youth and documenting knowledge and place names for future generations. Mark John has been working with colleagues at CEC to document Yup’ik place names for decades. The Yup’ik Elders he works with believe that sharing knowledge freely across generations is an important part of Yup’ik culture. Yup’ik Elders are eager to teach young people the rich history and names of places of their homeland, including camp and settlement sites, rivers, sloughs, rocks, and ponds. Place names hold stories and knowledge important for language and cultural retention.
The rugged terrains of Alaska are not only home to natural wonders but have also become a cradle of growth for a different kind of exploration since 2019—one that empowers the youth with critical and computational thinking and digital fluency. The infusion of computer science education in K-12 settings in Alaska has not only reshaped students’ perspectives on technology but has also stimulated a movement of continuous professional development for educators. This journey from 2019 to the present showcases how Alaska is committed to equipping its students with essential skills for the digital age, careers, and holistic academic growth.
Nurturing Educators as Pioneers
In 2019, a transformative partnership between Code.org and the Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN) marked a significant milestone in Alaska’s educational landscape. This collaboration was driven by the shared vision of enhancing K-12 computer science professional development for all students. Recognizing the importance of preparing students for a technology-driven world, Alaska Dept. of Early Childhood Education (DEED) created and approved K-12 Computer Science Standards for our Alaska Students. Continue reading ‘Nurturing Tech-Savvy Minds: Fostering K-12 Computer Science Education and Professional Development in Alaska (2019-Present)’ by Cheryl Bobo
On a fall ride to school in 2022, a 4th grade student from Fronteras Charter School named Solei noticed that many trees were being cut down to make way for new housing. It bothered her, and after lots of discussion about it with her family, she decided to ask her principal if she could raise awareness about deforestation and also raise money to help with planting new trees. Continue reading ‘AK Students’ Passion for Trees Contributes to Rainforest Reforestation’ by ACSA Staff
Each Spring the Lower Kuskokwim School District hosts the annual Festival of Arts and Academics show in Bethel AK. Students from preschool through 12th grade are welcome to join. Continue reading ‘Festival of Arts and Academics Showcases LKSD Student Art’ by Sara Jung
In 2006, former Annette Island School District Superintendent Brett Agenbroad had a vision to offer Metlakatla High School students an opportunity to gain industry experience in diving by providing a scuba program.
Current Superintendent and former CTE Teacher Taw Lindsey said Agenbroad “saw a need to help provide safe training for divers to participate in the local dive harvest industry.” Lindsey shared that there is a significant need for dive harvest of sea cucumber and geoduck clams in the region for the local tribe and state harvests. Continue reading ‘The Metlakatla Master Dive Program: Gaining Skills for the Local Harvest Industry’ by ACSA Staff
Bring Alaska students to the room where it happens!
Starting this summer, the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts (ACPA) and Broadway Alaska are bringing some of Broadway’s biggest hits to an Alaskan audience with runs of four major shows in Anchorage. This first show is the smash-hit HAMILTON.
As a way to create opportunities for youth around Alaska to attend Hamilton and get to know more about Broadway productions, ACPA is partnering with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and HAMILTON on an Alaskan specific, statewide competition for students in rising grades 7-12 to submit a HAMILTON-inspired 2-minute video or 2-page written piece showcasing their original work. Continue reading BroadwayBoundAK: ACPA Creates Competition to Bring Alaskan Youth to Broadway’s Hamilton by ACSA Staff
In November 2018, a Palmer High School (PHS) student, Zoe Nelles, was struck by a realization that her peers may not have weekend food security. Zoe took the initiative and reached out to a PHS teacher for help, and from there the PHS Sandwich Project began. In the beginning stages of the project, Zoe would make PBJ sandwiches in her home and used donated non-perishable food items to fill the bags. The first week 7 food bags were delivered to students on a Friday afternoon. Zoe continued to spear head the program for 2 years, through the spring of 2020, when she graduated.
Through generous grants from the Mat-Su Health Foundation, The Food Bank of Alaska, and The Palmer Community Foundation, an affiliate of The Alaska Community Foundation, the project continues to grow each year. This grant money was used to buy not only food items, but also to buy structural supplies to sustain the program, such as shelving and bins to properly store items as well as a freezer and refrigerator for perishable items. Continue reading ‘Sandwich Project Brings Together Community Around Student Food Security’ by Carmen Pell
Uvlaalluataq! (Good morning in Iñupiaq)
Maayong Buntag! (Good morning in Bisaya)
Hi! My name is Juvy Magsanay Pamunag, a J1 teacher from the Philippines. I am from Mindanao region, and I speak Cebuano colloquially known as “Bisaya”. This is my 2nd year teaching in the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, and I teach ELA and Social Studies to grades 6 to 12 learners in Shungnak School. Continue reading ‘Cultural Exchange at the Heart of Teaching Success’ by Juvy Pamunag
Special thanks to BSSD teachers Luzviminda Dinglasan and Lya Duncan for their contributions to this blog post.
Five students from Bering Strait School District advanced from their school science fairs to the Alaska Science & Engineering Fair in Anchorage Alaska. The students represented Gambell and Wales, two rural Alaskan villages with populations of 630 people and 160 people respectively. With the support of the Rural Alaska GEAR UP Partnership, the competitors and their teachers flew 735 miles from their remote villages to Anchorage to participate in the statewide competition. Continue reading ‘BSSD Students Win Honors at the Alaska Science & Engineering Fair’ by ASDN Staff
This spring, a cohort of educators from four partner school districts participated in an online professional learning class focused on the implementation of Visible Learning practices in their classrooms. This class was formed as part of a multiyear effort to deepen the use of researched-based practices in classroom instruction through the Increasing Performance and Retention in Alaska’s Rural Schools (IPRARS) initiative, a federal grant managed by the Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA). Continue reading ‘A Focus On Visible Learning Practice: Two Teacher Perspectives from Shungnak School’ by Sam Jordan