‘Diving into the shift’ was how the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD) approached taking on the idea of Remote Learning. The Professional Development team decided to take this situation head-on, and tackled it with gusto. The team knew that the weeks ahead presented unprecedented shifts in practice that teachers would need support for, AND the team knew there was a wealth of knowledge and expertise to pull from.
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.
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.