‘US News & World Report Recognizes Alaskan Middle Schools’ by the Staff at ACSA

Annually U.S News and World Report releases rankings for the best high schools in the country. This past October, the publication released its first rankings of public middle schools in each state, with 62 Alaska middle schools receiving recognition.

Unlike the high school list, there aren’t national rankings for middle school. The rankings for this list are done by state, based on academic performance in math, reading, and language arts state assessments. Continue reading ‘US News & World Report Recognizes Alaskan Middle Schools’ by the Staff at ACSA

‘Students Prepare to Take Flight in Private Pilot Ground School Elective’ by Nicole Stellon O’Donnell

Travis Stagg, a physics teacher at West Valley High School in Fairbanks, became inspired to offer students the chance to become pilots by his own love of aviation. After taking a “discovery flight” as a gift from his wife, he went on to become a pilot and certified flight instructor himself. 

Fairbanks International Airport

During his aviation journey, he kept hearing about the need to engage more young learners in training for aviation careers. According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, “763,000 new pilots will be needed in the world by 2039, based on Boeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook.” Ironically, the number of pilot certificates issued by the Federal Aviation Administration has decreased more than 60 percent since 1980.” (APOAStagg elaborates, “Report after report can be found online about the important role aviation plays in our state’s economy and that there is an increasing demand for qualified people to keep that industry healthy.”  Continue reading ‘Students Prepare to Take Flight in Private Pilot Ground School Elective’ by Nicole Stellon O’Donnell

‘Growing Everyday Leaders at Colony Middle School’ by Lindsay Jack and the CMS Leadership Classes

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” -Nelson Mandela

This quote was chosen by a Colony Middle School Leadership student to begin their final speech and perfectly sums up the goal of leadership. Leadership class is not a new idea in schools, but it is a new addition at Colony Middle School this year and students reaped the benefits. In this class, students learned how to be the best version of themselves in order to be everyday leaders in their school and community.

Continue reading ‘Growing Everyday Leaders at Colony Middle School’ by Lindsay Jack and the CMS Leadership Classes

‘Cooking Up Life Experience in Southwest Alaskan Schools’ by ASDN Staff

When more than 20 students joined Lower Kuskokwim School District’s new after school food sciences club this fall, expectations were low. The students, at school sites in Goodnews Bay, Tuntutuliak, and Kipnuk [currently on hold while in “red” Covid-19 status], expected to do a little cooking and a lot of listening to lectures about nutrition and kitchen safety. Instead, what they got was “an exploratory adventure going through cuisine” and so much more, according to Gear Up grant coordinator Alex Bernard.

“Students learn about everything from chemistry and nutrition to time management and cultural traditions.”

Continue reading ‘Cooking Up Life Experience in Southwest Alaskan Schools’ by ASDN Staff

‘Young Scientists in BSSD Gain Lifelong Skills Through Virtual Science Fairs’ by Noelle Dersé at ASDN

In a school year when many districts are struggling to cover the basics, Bering Strait School District has been busy building young scientists. For more than 20 years, BSSD has held a districtwide science fair, come snow or sleet or global pandemic. This year, amid closures all over the state, BSSD decided the show must go on – on line – with a virtual district fair that allowed student-scientists to present to judges remotely from their own schools.

Mharianne Xhylhreine Sapigao from Wales, using her engineered bubble maker

Continue reading ‘Young Scientists in BSSD Gain Lifelong Skills Through Virtual Science Fairs’ by Noelle Dersé at ASDN

‘Six Alaska Teens Honored for Community Service as Local Heroes’ By Heather Marron, Alaska Communications

Collage photo identification – Top row, left to right: Asya Gipson, Zoe Nelles, Ted (Emily) Tedrick – Bottom row, left to right: Trevor Morgan, Joy Martin, Rosalie Cortes

Alaska youth are doing remarkable work to improve lives in our local communities.

Through the Summer of Heroes Program, Alaska Communications is proud to celebrate six youth for their outstanding community service across Alaska. Five youth heroes at large and one youth hero from the company’s employee program will be awarded a $1,500 scholarship for their efforts. Additionally, as part of the program, Alaska Communications will donate $15,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska to further support youth development in the state. Continue reading ‘Six Alaska Teens Honored for Community Service as Local Heroes’ By Heather Marron, Alaska Communications

‘Alaska’s 2020 AASSP Principal of the Year: Robyn Taylor’ by Seanna O’Sullivan at ACSA

 

“Be resilient, be responsive, and find what works.” – Robyn Taylor

Principal Robyn Taylor’s last semester started with a very broken foot in traction, a pandemic that turned school upside down while she was homebound, and a transition to homeschooling her 17-year-old daughter. So when she got the phone call that she was named Principal othe Year by the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals, she had to tell her wide-eyed daughter that the tears in her eyes were happy tears of gratitude. As a self-proclaimed optimist, Principal Taylor lives every day finding and shining light on the positive things even in this time of extreme upheavals. Continue reading ‘Alaska’s 2020 AASSP Principal of the Year: Robyn Taylor’ by Seanna O’Sullivan at ACSA

‘The Power of Public Speaking’ by Laura Davies in Wrangell

At the beginning of each school year, I inform fifth-grade students that by the end of the year, they will all write a persuasive speech and say it aloud to their friends and family. Most students are already aware of this ten-year tradition, but many still give me a look of shock and disbelief. During the year, students work on speaking in front of their peers during daily student-run morning meetings and throughout the day when they share their ideas, knowledge, and questions with their peers. Using a microphone they learn to stand up, speak aloud to their peers, and over time develop confidence with this skill.

Students have numerous opportunities throughout the school year, like this Mystery Skype session, to practice public speaking skills and gain confidence in their public speaking abilities.

Continue reading ‘The Power of Public Speaking’ by Laura Davies in Wrangell

‘Advancing College Success with Upward Bound in Alaska’ by Adam Low at UAF

The University of Alaska Fairbanks campus has been home to Alaska’s Upward Bound (UB) program for over 52 years. The federally grant-funded Upward Bound project reaches across the state to assist first-generation-to-college students in small, rural high schools. The program strives to increase the number of high school graduates who continue on to enter universities and colleges.

Continue reading ‘Advancing College Success with Upward Bound in Alaska’ by Adam Low at UAF

‘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