Through new territories of learning and teaching, we must remember to celebrate all successes, even the little ones. Each community, parents and district’s staff, and students deserve an applause, gratitude, and appreciation, as well as a great big virtual hug. I’ve often said to colleagues (and I have been reminded by many) that the second semester just flies by. This year, with no exception, second semester flew by. This flight had a much different pattern, nonetheless, the end of the school year was still here in a flash.
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.
Graduation Week is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite week of the entire school year, and being the senior advisor is one of my favorite parts of my job. I look forward to the planning, the stress, the excitement, the traditions, the pictures (so many pictures!), the hugs, the handshakes, the smiles, and the tears all year long.
In a matter of a few short weeks public schools around the world have been challenged by COVID-19 virus with an unprecedented task: with little or no time for training, resources or directives, assemble a widespread distance education program that reaches every student, in every grade, in every home.
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.
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.
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.”
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.