Education Bulletin
Mission: Leadership, Unity and Advocacy for Public Education
December | 2020
Wishing you a safe and joyous holiday as we all look forward to a fresh new year!
Messages From Our Leaders
Leading with Empathy, Self-Care, and Connection
Robin Jones
Outgoing President, Alaska Council of School Administrators
President, Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals

Alaska Region 7 Principal of the Year 2020

Principal, Chief Ivan Blunka School
Southwest Region School District

As an educational leader, it is vitally important to model best practice for your staff. I am especially reminded of the value in demonstrating the same level of empathy, self-care, and connection you want to see on your team when leading in these unprecedented times.

Your team needs to see you lead with empathy…
A Crisis Can Produce Real Change

Kerry Boyd
Incoming President, Alaska Council of School Administrators
President, Alaska Superintendents Association

Superintendent, Yukon Koyukuk School District

As President of both ACSA and ASA, I look forward to working with educators throughout the upcoming school year with an assurance that I will endeavor to foster a spirit of collaboration, keep us all working together towards a unified vision, and forge a powerful Alaskan team!

Our diversity and unique differences are an asset that forms the foundational core of our strength. I am proud to be working alongside such a diverse and experienced group of leaders.
Tireless Leaders

Dr. Lisa S. Parady
Executive Director,
Alaska Council of School Administrators

Happy New Year!

And what a year it has been. Since last spring educational leaders have carried the weight of their student’s success on their shoulders. Schools have not only worked to deliver education through paper packets, jump drives, chrome books and in some cases windowpanes, but also provide basic nutrition in the form of daily breakfast and lunches for the many Alaskan students who would otherwise go hungry.

Mitigation and testing, monitoring of symptoms, contact tracing, and quarantine protocols have become a top focus for education leaders as they work to distribute the best research-based instruction possible to every student.
A Case for The Humble Phone Call

Frank Hauser
President-Elect, Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals

Principal, Robert Service High School
Anchorage School District
At the beginning of the school year, I got an email from a parent new to Service High School. She had some questions about scheduling for her freshman, and I decided to call her back, rather than email, in case she had anything else to ask me. Freshman year comes with many questions, for students and families alike.

“Hello, this is Principal Hauser from Service High School,” I said when the student’s mom answered the phone. There was a long, awkward pause. “Hello?” I said again. “Is anyone there?”
We Are Better Together

Jennifer Rinaldi
President, Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals

Principal, Willow Elementary School
Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District

As I sit down to write this article, the view in front of my desk is a shelf full of books and articles written by educational experts. Here one can access a plethora of information from best practices on making blended learning work in schools, to transforming the culture of a school and leading with authenticity.

It isn’t lost on me that absent from that shelf is a book titled, “School Leadership in the time of a Pandemic”, although it is fairly certain that we could all be contributing authors to that forthcoming text. Day in and day out, we are navigating something that each day presents new challenges we didn’t know were possible.
Waiting to Exhale

Jennifer Schmitz
Executive Director, Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals
I open my email, news, or social media accounts and find myself holding my breath in anticipation of the continued deluge of negative or challenging news. 

Most recently, via a Facebook page for principals, was the question; “What do you think is the single most challenge facing education today?” My immediate thought was COVID-19. Although COVID-19 was mentioned numerous times, the other very real, and popular answer, was lack of equity.
A message from Alaska 2020 School Business Official of the Year
Listening with Our Ears and Hearts

Karen Morrison
Outgoing President, Alaska Association of School Business Officials (ALASBO)

Alaska 2020 School Business Official of the Year

Finance Director, Petersburg School District

It has been a professional highlight to participate on the ACSA board for the last two years, especially with all of the challenges faced in 2020. I know we are all tired of talking about COVID but there are valuable lessons that I have gained from this pandemic.

First, the 2020 ACSA theme of “Creating Meaningful Connections Through Unity in Leadership” has been achieved despite the connections happening virtually. The professional organizations that serve under the ACSA umbrella have collaborated regularly through meetings with Commissioner Johnson and education leaders across the state, exchanging effective strategies for operating during the pandemic, and working on the ACSA Joint Position Statements. 
A message from our Alaska Superintendent of the Year
Collaboration, not Consolidation

Ty Mase

Superintendent, Lake and Peninsula Borough School District

A strong example of “Unity in Leadership” can be found in a remote rural area of SW Alaska where a team of superintendents, A.K.A. “the Beach Gang,” resides.

This partnership started more than a decade ago when the Bristol Bay Borough School District (BBBSD) and the Lake & Peninsula School District (LPSD) held a joint in-service to cut costs, share professional development opportunities, and build collegiality and collaboration. This was the first time in recent memory the two school districts had come together in anything other than the competitive sports arena – in years prior, each district worked in isolation, despite being close neighbors.
A message from our Alaska Principal of the Year
Why Membership Matters

Robyn Taylor

Hutchison High School
Fairbanks North Star Borough School District

When I joined AASSP, I joined both the elementary and secondary associations as I was a K-12 principal. Networking with other administrators across the state and being involved with the Alaska Statewide Mentor Project were invaluable, and now I'm a mentor through the Alaska School Leadership Academy (ASLA) administered through ACSA! I still reach out to administrators in my cohort for guidance when I have questions unique to my situation that they would understand.

AASSP has definitely kept me at the heart of the most important advocacy for Alaska's public education students. Serving on the NAESP Resolutions Committee also really allowed me to understand what was occurring at the state and national levels, what was coming (No Child Left Behind,) and what the potential impacts were. This experience set the groundwork for how I advocate for secondary schools now. 

As a member of AASSP I attended my first ACSA Legislative Fly-In in Juneau while serving as Fairbanks Principals' Association president-elect and then as president. WOW!!! Our legislators need to hear our stories and the impact of the legislation they are considering. Alaska is so unique that it’s critical that we get a voice at the proverbial table and share our stories, both rural and urban. What works in the lower 48 looks completely different in our Alaskan communities. 

The Alaska Principals' Conference is absolutely amazing. At the conferences, I’m able to network with other Alaskan educators, and it reaffirms the value of our chosen profession. Singleton principals (single site in a community) get a chance to meet with others, share stories, offer guidance, and NETWORK!! 
Growing Our Own

Sean Dusek

Superintendent Support Services Coordinator
Alaska Superintendents Association

Developed with practical information and insight from experienced superintendents, the Aspiring Superintendent Program has proven success in bringing together cohorts of education leaders, empowering them with effective leadership skills, and connect them with seasoned superintendents who know the needs of Alaskan districts and what it takes to succeed.
Alaska Staff Development Network
The abrupt transition from in-person to remote learning environments that completely changed the educational landscape continues to push educators in a way that no other challenge has before. Nearly 40 years of trusted online programming allowed ASDN to respond immediately in preparing educators for remote teaching. And time and again educators are tirelessly rising to the occasion.

March through April ASDN was first to offer 56 customized online workshops to more than 3,800 Alaskan educators in response to the pandemic.

Teachers launched the summer season by participating in Alaska’s first virtual statewide education conference on May 27-29 with record participation during the Alaska School Leadership Institute (ASLI) 2020 “Preparing for the Fall Forecast.” It focused on the biggest question on the minds of educators at the time: “How should we plan for opening school next fall, and where do students begin?” 
In August ASDN added 16 no-cost support sessions for live remote teaching and during July through August professional development sessions aimed at back-to-school learning in person, remote and hybrid settings quickly filled up. As part of this effort, ASDN also partnered with the Coalition for Education Equity (CEE) for sessions on strategies for teaching reading and math in communities without internet access. 

Fall webinars with proven methods for distance learning and a focus on educator and student resilience continued along with expanding support to parents and families to increase engagement and a total of 150 webinars have been provided as resources for educators continuing to adapt their skills for an ever-changing educational environment.

And as we head into the end of 2020 educators are continuing to pursue professional development opportunities with strong enrollment in the 2021 Effective Instruction Virtual Conference Jan 22-24th. So far about 1,000 educators have registered for the event already, proving that their dedication to providing the highest quality learning environments for Alaska's students has not waned, even in this first-ever large-scale virtual conference.

Learning from the conference will extend with five webinar series this spring led by experts like Doug Fisher, Anita Archer, Linda Chamberlain, and Dave Nagel. And ASDN is continuing partnerships with eight school districts through grant projects that provide more intensive and targeted PD.

As partners in education dedicated to improving student achievement, ASDN is committed to continued service in 2021 through:

Offering more than 80 online professional learning classes for educators next semester.
Providing 500-level university credit through our webinar series and conferences, facilitating nearly 4,000 university credit registrations per year, which can be used for teacher recertification.
Partnering with school districts through grant projects to provide more intensive and targeted professional development. 
Hosting webinars customized for Alaskan educators to build on the 150 already offered in 2020.
A Special THANK YOU and Congratulations
to our Award-Winning Educators!
"This award for me just solidifies the promise that I made to my grandparents, who were unable to receive a formal education due to the color of their skin and circumstances beyond their control, that education does matter and education is the one thing that no one can ever take from you,"

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) is pleased to continue to support the work of current and aspiring superintendents and district leadership teams in leading all aspects of digital learning transformations.

School district leaders face many challenges leading schools and driving school improvement. Collaboration with peers is one of the most effective ways to learn about effective ideas and practices. CoSN, AASA, and are co-hosting an online professional learning community and edWebinar series to help superintendents connect and collaborate to help each other in this endeavor. You can attend the edWebinars live to connect with peers in real time, or view the recordings. Join the Super-Connected community on edWeb for online discussions and resources.

“The Empowered Superintendent webinar series allows us to leverage technology to engage in conversations each month with district leaders who are leading the way in meeting the learning needs of all students, and providing a valuable guide for others to follow,” said Ann McMullan, Project Director, CoSN Empowered Superintendents Program.

Effective Technology Professional Development: The Secret Sauce for Successful Classroom Transformation

The CoSN EmpowerED Superintendents web page presents a series of “ one-pagers” to guide and empower superintendents and their leadership teams in leading digital transformations. CoSN’s one-page document on Effective Technology Professional Development identifies three critical guidelines for professional learning that are essential to improving classroom practice. Also defined are the factors school leaders must consider when planning for and evaluating professional learning opportunities for all educators.

If your school or district would like more information about joining CoSN or getting more involved with CoSN, please contact Brian Calvary, CAE, CoSN Director of Membership and Chapters, at 
GCI supports local projects and organizations that strive to reduce the rates of suicide in Alaska by promoting mental wellness through strengthened community and personal connections.

Thanks to a grant provided by GCI, ACSA invited Alaskan high school students to an online dialogue with Eskimo Ninja Nick Hanson to discuss issues that matter most to them and to provide an outlet during the isolating time of the pandemic. Fifteen schools were awarded grants to host their own dialogue. Recordings and resources for students can be found on the website ACSA dedicated to the program.

Improve your video calls

2020, what a year. We’re living and working through truly remarkable times.
As leaders, we’re now tasked with leading our teams from afar. While remote work can be challenging, there are some simple things leaders can do to create connections with their teams.

The shiny newness of video meetings has worn off. But it’s hard to create meaningful connections if your team can’t see you. Your body language, eye contact and tone of voice go a long way in connecting via technology.
When Every Second Counts

Between 2000 and 2013, active shooter incidents occurred in 40 states and the District of Columbia, in urban and rural areas, in both small and large towns. Casualties included young and old, male and female, and encompassed all races, cultures and religions. Nearly 25% took place in educational settings, and educational facilities account for some of the higher casualty counts in the study.
A grateful thank you to the following
Champions for Children Sponsors:
Good News from Alaska Schools
Upcoming 2020 Events
Upcoming ACSA Affiliated Events                    

January 2021
January 6: Virtual ASA Aspiring Superintendent Cohort Meeting
January 8: ASA Virtual District Officer Leaders Cohort Meeting
January 15: ACSA Statewide Education Leaders Collaboration Meeting with DEED Commissioner Johnson and Dr. Anne Zink
January 19: Alaska Legislature Convenes
January 22-24: Virtual Alaska School Leadership Academy (ASLA) Meeting
January 22-24: Virtual ASDN Annual RTI/MTSS Effective Instruction Conference
January 23: Virtual ASA Aspiring Superintendent Academy
January 26-27: State Board of Education Special Meeting Legislative & Budget Report
January 29: ACSA Statewide Education Leaders Collaboration Meeting with DEED Commissioner Johnson and Dr. Anne Zink

ACSA Education Bulletin Deadline – January 

ACSA Meeting during the legislative session – TBD

February 2021
February 18-19: AASA National Conference on Education, Virtual
February 24: Virtual ASA Aspiring Superintendent Cohort Meeting, Virtual
February 24: State Board of Education Work Session Commissioner’s Report, Virtual

March 2021
***ACSA Virtual Legislative Fly-In Details TBA***
March 16-17: State Board of Education Regular Meeting (TBD Juneau or Virtual)
March 24 Virtual: ASA Aspiring Superintendent Cohort Meeting
– TBD: ASA New & Incoming Superintendent Support Program
– TBD: ASA District Office Leaders Cohort Meeting
– TBD: ACSA Legislative Fly-In
– TBD: Alaska’s Heart Through Student Art Exhibit and Legislative Reception

ACSA Education Bulletin Deadline – March 

April 2021
– TBD: ACSA Quarterly Meeting
April 18: Alaska Legislature Adjourns
April 21: ASA Aspiring Superintendent Cohort Meeting
April 21, State Board of Education Work Session Commissioner’s Report, Virtual

May 2021
May TBD: Alaska School Leadership Academy (ASLA) Meeting, Anchorage or Virtual
May TBD: ASDN Alaska School Leadership Institute (ASLI), Anchorage or Virtual

June 2021
June 9-10: State Board of Education Regular Quarterly Meeting, Virtual

July 2021:
July 14-17: NASSP National Conference, Denver, CO
July 8-10: NAESP National Conference, Chicago, IL
July 9-11: ALASBO Summer Leadership, TBD
July 24: ASA New & Incoming Superintendent Support Program, Juneau
July 25-26*: ASA/DEED Summer Meeting, Juneau
ACSA Board of Directors & Staff
Board Members

Kerry Boyd, ACSA President
ASA President
Yukon-Koyukuk School District

Robin Jones, ACSA Past-President &
AASSP President
Chief Ivan Blunka School

Shawn Arnold, ASA Past-President
Valdez City School District

Dr. Bobby Bolen, ASA President-Elect
Bering Strait School District

Frank Hauser, AASSP President-Elect
Robert Service High School
Brendan Wilson, NASSP Alaska State Coordinator
Begich Middle School
Eric Pederson, AAESP Past-President
Paul Banks Elementary School

Jennifer Rinaldi, AAESP President
Willow Elementary School
Karen Morrison, ALASBO Past -President
Petersburg School District

Jimmy Love, ALASBO President
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

Dr. Lisa S. Parady
Executive Director,
Heather Johnson-Smith
Development & Membership Services
Manager, ACSA
Kathy Blanc
ASDN Administrator

Kelly Tonsmeire
Grants Director, ASDN

Sam Jordan
Outreach & Grants Director,

Noelle Derse
Grants Administrator
Ceann Murphy
Office Manager, ACSA
Program Coordinator, ASDN

Seanna O'Sullivan
Public Information Officer, ACSA/ASDN

Jennifer Schmitz
AAESP Executive Director

Darcy Carter
ALASBO Executive Director