“We come to school every day to learn, take responsibility for our actions and treat everyone with love, kindness, and respect.”
Denali Elementary was recently named ESEA Distinguished School for 2022-23 and we are so excited about it! We have 300 students preK through 5th grade & are located in Fairbanks, the 2nd largest city in Alaska. Our school is located right in the downtown area so the majority of our students are within a mile and walk to school, even when it’s 25 below zero! Our student population is very diverse. We have 27% of our students who are 2 or more races, 15% Alaskan Native, 30% caucasion, 15% hispanic, 6% african american, 4% asian and 3% pacific islander. About 60% of our students receive free or reduced lunches.
We have a motto here at Denali, “We come to school every day to learn, take responsibility for our actions and treat everyone with love, kindness, and respect”. This motto of spreading love, kindness and respect was given to us from an Alaskan native Artist and carver, Bert Ryan in the late 1990s, who, alongside our students, carved our very own totem pole which stands in our playground today.
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.
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.” (APOA) Stagg 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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.