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.
Superintendents, educators and support staff around Alaska have responded to this crisis with resolve, creativity, care, and at times, some well needed humor. Our schools have developed meal distribution sites in different locations, assessed needs of students, families and communities across the state and developed systems for delivering instruction, ever mindful of the need to avoid risk of transmitting the virus. Continue reading ‘Inspiring Stories from Alaska’s Schools Emerge Amid the Crisis’ by Seanna O’Sullivan and Sam Jordan at ASDN
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.
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
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’.
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.
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
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