‘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

An Old Game Meets New Tech: Creating Connections During Remote Schooling by TJ O’Donnell, Pearl Creek School

In Fall 2020, faced with the challenge of conducting Pearl Creek Elementary’ s Extended Learning Program remotely, I turned to chess to help students connect with each other. As a longtime school chess club sponsor, I knew how much fun students had playing against each other, so I just needed to figure out a way for them to play online. I invited students to play using a copy of a shared google drawings template during Zoom sessions with ELP students enrolled in Fairbanks North Star Borough School District’s e-learning and BEST homeschool programs. I was happy to find that, even remotely, I was able to hop from game to game and give advice or settle disputes as they arose. 

A screenshot of chess game being played in Google Draw. Google Draw.
Pearl Creek Elementary students learned to play chess online with each other remote learning.

It worked! Students liked it so much that games sometimes extended beyond the ELP session. Students would often have more than one game active with different classmates. Some even started their own games by copying the template and sharing it with willing friends. Continue reading An Old Game Meets New Tech: Creating Connections During Remote Schooling by TJ O’Donnell, Pearl Creek School

‘What Works: Tanana Middle Built Upon Its Strengths When The Learning Landscape Changed!’ by Tana Martin

Tanana Middle School in Fairbanks, Alaska has a 40+ year history of excellence. Tanana serves about 350 students in grades 7 & 8. About one third of our students are part of families with a member serving at Fort Wainwright, a US Army post adjacent to the school. 

When COVID hit in March of 2020, school immediately shifted to remote learning. Our captain, Principal Carla Marquand, called on Tanana staff to rise to the challenge.  She knew her crew was capable.  We had to stretch a bit farther outside our comfort zones. We took a deep breath, adjusted, & built upon our strengths.  We didn’t reinvent the helm…we simply changed direction of the ship. Collaboration, Chromebooks, & communication were assets our Tanana crew already possessed.  When everything about “doing school” changed on a dime, Tanana was prepared to succeed. Continue reading ‘What Works: Tanana Middle Built Upon Its Strengths When The Learning Landscape Changed!’ by Tana Martin

Alaska’s Heart through Student Art Expands Its Reach in 2020

Alaska’s Heart through Student Art is an annual celebration of student expression that brings legislators, statewide educational leaders, students, teachers and artists together to celebrate the beauty, inspiration, and creativity of student artists across the state. The event is launched annually in the capital city of Juneau as statewide leaders gather for the legislative session.

More than 100 pieces of student art were meticulously packaged and shipped to the Alaska Council of School Administrators last winter and transported to the Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Museum. Carefully arranged and labeled in this beautifully appointed open gallery space in preparation for the March 2020 event that, as with so many other life events, became upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continue reading Alaska’s Heart through Student Art Expands Its Reach in 2020

‘What Works: Relating To and Respecting Parents’ by Nikki Fisher

Teacher Nikki Fisher’s remote teaching set up

I teach 4th and 5th grade in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, all subjects, and math for 4th through 8th grade. I am finding that being in daily contact with parents and being completely transparent with them about my own life is what is working for me. Continue reading ‘What Works: Relating To and Respecting Parents’ by Nikki Fisher

‘Online Writing Conferences Key to Virtual Learning Success’ by Kayla “Ashton” Morrison

About a year ago, I started rethinking how I teach.

Not because someone told me to, or a mandate of any sort. But I felt a pressing on my heart to switch some things around and find some more joy. This planning and idea mulling turned out to be a blessing during remote learning. 

None of us were prepared for spring, and this fall has been filled with lots of struggles, questions, and tech issues. But there is joy where you look for it, even if it is different than ever before.  Continue reading ‘Online Writing Conferences Key to Virtual Learning Success’ by Kayla “Ashton” Morrison

‘The Importance of an Origin Story for our School’s Community’ by Arctic Light Elementary Principal Thad Keener

Arctic Light Elementary School is a K-8 public school in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. It is unique in that it is the only public school located on the Fort Wainwright Army U.S. Base. The school mascot is the Arctic Fox.

This year we are sharing our school mascot’s origin story. Arty the Arctic Fox is our mascot and, “Do Good Work, Be a Friend, Every Day” is our motto. With our students we have expanded these words and we were ready for this book to extend the learning. Continue reading ‘The Importance of an Origin Story for our School’s Community’ by Arctic Light Elementary Principal Thad Keener

‘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

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.        

Continue reading A View From The Window: Our Alaskan Schools in Winter 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