Voices of Alaska Education      
Newsletter of the Association of Alaska School Boards
Our Mission: To advocate for children and youth by assisting school boards in providing
quality public education, focused on student achievement, through effective local governance.

A New Framework Focuses on Transforming School Practices to Address the Impacts of Trauma
By Lori Grassgreen, Director of Alaska ICE 
In an effort to dramatically improve academic outcomes, school climate and the well-being of Alaskan students, schools in Alaska are looking to build trauma awareness, and trauma engaged practices. While we may not always know which students have experienced trauma, we know that two out of three Alaskan children have been exposed to traumatic experiences. These experiences impact Alaskans across racial, social, economic, and geographic lines, and can lead to higher dropout rates, lower academic performance, lower employment rates, and lower health outcomes. The good news is, there are policies, practices, and understandings that can create a true shift in how school staff, students, and families work together to support student learning.
Transforming Schools: A Framework for Trauma Engaged Practice in Alaska offers an understanding of trauma and a framework for transforming practices that place relationship building at the center of all instructional practices and interactions with students.
5 Minute Read > 
Timi Tullis, AASB Associate Executive Director
Lisa X'unyeil Worl, STEPS Partnership Coordinator
Emily Ferry, STEPS Coordinator
Strategic Plan: A Roadmap to Success!
Most Alaskans travel! Each time we get on a plane, in a boat, or on a snow machine, we set out on an adventure. To make the most of these adventures we need a plan. Where are we going? How will we get to our desired location? How long will it take us? The questions school districts must ask themselves are similar:
Advocacy at the Capitol
Advocating for our schools is essential because it provides insight and puts the data in perspective for our policymakers. While the legislators are provided plenty of reports and data, testimony from the community, parents, students, superintendents, and board members can help them understand what is behind those numbers.
How do we improve reading and math scores? By focusing on more than just reading and math.
School board members, administrators, teachers, and parents often want to know how to best boost students' reading and math scores. A number of recent studies have identified some unexpected pieces to the puzzle.
Q: What is a board member's role on a standing committee of the board?

A. First and foremost all committee meetings are subject to the Open Meeting act and not only should be posted but should be held in public for anyone to attend. Now that does not mean for anyone to participate, but it does mean...
Former AASB Board Member Andi Story Joins Legislative Ranks 
Andi Story and other freshman legislators are sworn in.
Photo: GavelAlaska
Longtime Juneau school board and AASB board member Andi Story took the oath of office as the newly elected Representative for Alaska's House District 34. Shortly after becoming an official member of the House on the first day of the 31st Legislative session, she wrote in a Facebook post, "This is an incredible honor, and I'm looking forward to representing everyone from the district and all Alaskans. We have a community of involved, diverse, and amazing people, and I look forward to working for all of you. If you have ideas of how to make our state better or if you need assistance, please contact us! My email is Representative.Andi.Story@akleg.gov.  
Swing by the Capitol and visit us in room 24 as well; I hope to hear from you soon."
Board Member Profile
Starr Marsett 
President, Anchorage School District 
Starr Marsett
Each month Commentary features a different board member's story, as told in their own words. Many dedicated Alaskans from all walks of life have chosen to support their communities and youth by serving on a local school board. There is inspiration and fellowship in learning how a person's culture, life events, personal philosophies, influential teachers, or career choices have motivated them to serve. This month we profile Starr Marsett of Anchorage School District.
Are you an Alaska school board member who would like to share your story in a future issue of Commentary? Complete our short survey >  
Partner Spotlight

Photo: Michael Penn,  
Juneau Empire
Early Learning Symposium
February 22-23 in Juneau
Join the AEYC-SEA for their annual early learning symposium. The theme this year is, "Hands On, Minds On! Arts in Early Education." Note that there is a pre-symposium seminar , The Art of Advocacy, that requires a separate registration from the bulk of the symposium. This can be done by contacting seminar host, Hannah Weed.

Primary Prevention Summit
March 6-8 in Anchorage
Opportunity for community prevention team or group to attend the 2019 Primary Prevention Summit-Finding Common Ground: Working Together to End Violence.  There is limited capacity and scholarship funding for the Summit so please register your community teams ASAP. Online applications must be received by February 7, 2019 to be considered. Applications to attend the Summit are intended to be completed and submitted as a group (multiple agencies or community members).

Juneau's first-ever Tlingit language immersion preschool to open
Haa Yoo X'atángi Kúdi is Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska's new "language nest," an immersive program intended to help revitalize the Tlingit language of Lingít.
After four years of development, the program is close to getting off the ground, with the goal of immersing Juneau students between the ages of 3 and 5 in the Tlingit language.

Guest Columns
AASB Model Policy Updates for 2019
By Michael Caulfield, Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens, P.C.
Michael Caulfield
The laws addressing schools and educational performance are constantly changing. Assessments evolve, best practices are improved, and new administrations bring new direction and priorities. This is why, each year, the Association of Alaska School Boards and Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens partner together to update and improve the model school board policies available to any subscribing school district. The policy updates reflect yearly changes to state and federal laws and regulations, ensuring currency and accuracy. The AASB model policies provide clear and digestible bylaws for district employees, students, and school boards.
When Should You Interrupt a Speaker?
By Ann Macfarlane, Professional Registered Parliamentarian, Jurassic Parliament  
We see so many instances of rude behavior in public life today that it is not easy to keep our bearings about civility. Polite people who have been well brought up sometimes feel stymied when public discourse disintegrates. Thus, it might be helpful to review some circumstances in which people should be interrupted during a meeting. Sometimes we have to interrupt a speaker in order to preserve politeness and fairness for all. 
Crisis Management: The Case of the Ominous Essay
By Lea Filippi of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
Lea Filippi
Part five of a series on Interacting with the Outside World - School District Style.
A student turns in a writing assignment that describes a household in turmoil including children being subjected to relatively severe discipline for relatively minor mistakes. Although the assignment doesn't include any familiar names, the physical description of the characters makes them bear a strong resemblance to the family of one of the student's peers. What, if anything, should the teacher do?
 3 Minute Read >     
Do You Have A Philosopher On Staff?
By Bob Thompson, Education Consultant, Expect Educational Excellence
Bob Thompson
Educators are aware of the importance of developing critical thinking skills in students, but an overview of efforts reveals a substantial lack of knowledge as to exactly what the skills are that comprise critical thinking. Teacher efforts include asking students to use higher level thinking according to Bloom's Taxonomy or the Depth of Knowledge matrix. Many textbooks dutifully include critical thinking tasks in lesson activities. However, asking students to use these higher-level thinking skills, does not teach students the process or the skills necessary to actually accomplish the task.
Improving Student Achievement with Educator Excellence
By Jacob Bera, Eagle River High Art teacher, Cross Country Coach, Alternate 2019 Alaska Teacher of the Year  
Jacob Bera
Alaska's public schools are filled with shining examples of excellence, as well as areas we can improve upon. As an educator and parent, I care deeply about our ability to provide a well-rounded public education in these tough economic times. I'm also invested heavily in closing the achievement gaps that exist between student groups and increasing attendance rates. As we look for answers to the challenges above, research has continually shown that the single most influential factor in improving student achievement is ensuring every student is taught by an effective and inspiring educator. During my career, I've spent countless hours outside of the classroom working with school leaders and legislators to answer the following question: "How do we attract and retain the most effective educators?"

AASB 28th Annual June Nelson  
Scholarship Competition

The Association of Alaska School Boards is proud to announce its 28th Annual Scholarship Award Competition.

This 2018-2019 school year, AASB will award fifteen $1,500 scholarships to apply toward post-secondary education. Thirteen of these scholarships are available for graduating seniors, and two may be awarded to returning college sophomores. The scholarship may be applied toward the student's choice of a business, trade, or a college institution.

Attention High School Seniors:
Don't Wait! Apply Now!

Application Deadline:
Midnight, March 25, 2019

Winners Announced:
Saturday, April 6, 2019
There's still time to register 
for AASB's first 2019
Leadership & Legislative Fly In
and Youth Advocacy Institute!

Join us February 9- 12 in Juneau to show that the unity of Alaska's School Boards can lead positive change by:
  • Building Boardsmanship Skills- learn about open meetings act, holding effective school board meetings, superintendent evaluations.
  • Discussing key legislative issues influencing education in 2019
  • Meeting with legislators and other decision makers
Register students to attend 2019 Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI):
  • Youth registrations are filling up fast!
  • Please register your students now for this amazing experience to see our legislative process in action. 
2019 AIAN Luminous Eagle Award
Deadline Extended 
Please submit your application by
Midnight Eastern Time,
Thursday, Jan 31, 2019

Sponsored by McGraw Hill,
Strategic Equity Partner

One school board will be selected for its excellence in establishing and executing policies, practices and strategies that promote and enhance equitable conditions, increased access to quality instruction and improving academic outcomes and career readiness for American Indian and Alaska Native students.

Award Criteria
and Information
The Luminous Eagle Award is open to any school district in good standing with their state school boards association. To apply for the Luminous Eagle Award, your school board must complete an online application which will be judged by the AI/AN Board of Directors.
SERRC is excited to offer
a free webinar series: Creating a Culturally Responsive Classroom

Our Professional Learning team will present five one-hour sessions over the next few months on the Question Formulation Technique, Culturally Responsive Instruction, and Intellectual Preparation.

It's a great introduction for educators at all levels.

The webinar sessions are from 4:00-5:00 pm on these dates:
  • February 4
  • February 20
  • March 4
  • April 3
  • April 17
All sessions will be recorded for those who are unable to sign in live.

Email Gerry Briscoe and Martha Gould-Lehe
or call 907-349-0651

Distinguished Special Education Administrator of the Year Award Nominations Now Open!

The Alaska Council of Administrators of Special Education (AKCASE) is excited to announce the first Distinguished Special Education Administrator of the Year award. We are looking for an outstanding Special Education Administrator to be recognized at the State Special Education Director's Meeting on February 22 and 23. The selection committee accepts nominations from school board members, superintendents, teachers, parents, colleagues, community members and/or anyone who has personal knowledge of an Alaska Special Education Administrator's performance and qualifications.

Send questions or the completed nomination form and a letter containing no more than 2 pages, detailing the Special Education Administrator's strengths to Tracy Culbert by February 15, 2019.

Alaska School Newsletters

We think what's going on in schools is worth sharing!

Each month Commentary will highlight school and district newsletters from across Alaska.
The Inside Scoop seeks to honor student achievements, help promote local events and activities, and recognize the contributions and accomplishments of youth in your district.

We're excited to help spread your good news!

School District Newsletters

Denali Borough School District

Kashunamiut School District

Lower Kuskokwim School District

Southeast Island School District

Student/Education Focused Newsletters

Alaska School Activities Association

Sitka Sound Science Center

Browse The Inside Scoop Newsletter Collection >
Include your school or district newsletter in The Inside Scoop!    
Dunleavy wants to spend $131 million on Alaska earthquake reconstruction; suggests cutting $20 million for schools
By James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News 
Governor Dunleavy
Gov. Mike Dunleavy has proposed spending $131 million, mostly from the federal government, for rebuilding after the Nov. 30 Southcentral Alaska earthquake. The figure was revealed Monday in a draft supplemental budget introduced in the Alaska Senate. It's believed to represent a basement: Additional surveys and the arrival of spring are expected to reveal additional earthquake damage. "It is anticipated that as spring comes, more and more roads will be identified with damage," said Lacey Sanders, budget director in the Office of Management and Budget.

In a separate but related move, the governor is proposing the elimination of a planned $20 million one-time boost to K-12 public schools. Last year, lawmakers approved the boost   as part of a budget compromise  at the end of the legislative session. It isn't clear whether there will be support in the Legislature for reversing that compromise. "I was under no intention of doing that," said Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
Anchorage School Board passes resolution adding $4 million to bond proposal to help schools repair quake damage
By Derek Minelayer, KTUU Channel 2
Photo: KTUU Channel 2
A proposal to increase funding by millions of dollars for earthquake-related school repairs is headed to the Anchorage Assembly, and the question on some Anchorage School Board minds is: Who will pay for the increase?
The proposal would add $4 million to the 2019 Bond Proposal; money going directly to Eagle River Elementary and Gruening Middle Schools. The 2019 proposal passed Nov. 2018, designating just over $55 million for citywide improvements. Board member Dave Donley proposed an amendment to the new bond proposition, changing the language to designate emergency federal or state reimbursements for the additional bond debt be used to cover the difference. His primary intent, he said, was to shift the added burden away from taxpayers.
Anchorage School Board member Dave Donley appointed to Dunleavy administration, remains on board
By Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media
Dave Donley
Photo: Anchorage School District
Anchorage School Board member Dave Donley has been appointed by Governor Dunleavy to serve in the Department of Administration. A spokesman for the governor says that since January 2nd, Donley has been deputy commissioner of the department. In his duties, he will help oversee state administrative services such as finance, labor relations and mail distribution. Donley is a former lawmaker - serving in the state House from 1987 to 1992 and the state Senate from 1993 to 2003.
Ketchikan schools superintendent resigns
By Leila Kheiry, KRBD 
Robert Boyle
Photo: KRBD
Following a contentious year, Ketchikan School District Superintendent Robert Boyle has resigned, effective Monday. The announcement was made early Monday morning. Ketchikan School Board President Matt Eisenhower said the board is grateful for Boyle's service to the district over the past 11 years. "As many people know, there have been a lot of things that have happened," he said. "With this resignation, the school board is looking forward to a new leader and CEO of our school district."
Superintendent Sean Dusek announces retirement
By Victoria Petersen, Peninsula Clarion
Sean Dusek
Photo: Victoria Petersen
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District superintendent Sean Dusek announced his retirement on Monday.
Dusek will be leaving the district at the end of the school year, effective June 30. "I'm resigning for retirement purposes," Dusek said during Monday's Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education work session.
There is no one lined up to replace Dusek. On Monday, the school board discussed plans to create a committee that would begin the process of finding a new superintendent.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy names three to Alaska Board of Education
By James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News 
Gov. Mike Dunleavy has filled three spots on Alaska's state board of education. In an email Friday afternoon, the governor's press secretary confirmed that Sally Stockhausen of Ketchikan and Bob Griffin of Anchorage were named to fill two spots on the State of Alaska Board of Education and Early Development. Tiffany Scott of Kotzebue was reappointed to another five-year term on the nine-member board that regulates the state education system .
New school accountability system flags more schools for improvement
By Renee Gross, KBBI
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development is assessing schools in a new way. The department rolled out it's new accountability system in late October, which they call the System for School Success. 
Schools flagged by the program as low performing can now obtain more funding but some say the system is not an accurate measure of their success. The System for School Success has two parts. The first part gives the school an overall value, based on data such as test scores, student growth and chronic absenteeism. The second part determines whether schools need additional support.
Amid accreditation loss, state will temporarily recognize UAA teaching license recommendations
By Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media
Photo: Dinker022089
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development announced Tuesday that it will continue to recognize teaching license recommendations from the University of Alaska Anchorage School of Education. The decision comes just days after the university's education department  lost its national accreditation. The state says it will recognize the students who meet licensure requirements during the 2019 spring and summer semesters. State Director of Educator and School Excellence Tamara Van Wyhe said the decision was made quickly to support students who were blindsided by the loss of national accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation, or CAEP.
Anchorage teacher one of 4 finalists for National Teacher of the Year
By Tegan Hanlon, Anchorage Daily News 
Danielle Riha, center, was named 2019 Alaska Teacher of the Year. Photo: Mark Lester, ADN
An Anchorage teacher is one of four finalists for this year's prestigious National Teacher of the Year award. Danielle Riha, 51, teaches seventh- and eighth-grade students at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School in the Anchorage School District. She was named the 2019 Alaska Teacher of the Year in October. That put her in the running for this year's National Teacher of the Year award as Alaska's official nominee. Riha was named one of four finalists in the national competition on Wednesday. A committee selected her from a nationwide group of 57 nominated teachers. It's the first time an Alaska teacher was picked as a finalist for National Teacher of the Year since 1995.
Permanent Fund lottery and youth vaping ban among Alaska laws taking effect with the new year
By James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News 
Kids are banned from possessing e-cigarettes and adults can gamble under a new statewide raffle as 2019 begins in Alaska. Seventeen new laws become partially or wholly effective with the start of the new year, according to a count provided by the nonpartisan legal services division of the Alaska Legislature. Among the most significant is Senate Bill 15, which bans Alaskans under 19 from possessing e-cigarettes and vaporizers. The bill also prohibits retailers from selling those products to youths. Previously, teens were banned only from buying them if they contained nicotine. Now, that ban extends across all types of devices. "It'll be illegal for someone under 19 to possess, which will be a great tool for the schools," said Joe Darnell, chief investigator for tobacco enforcement and youth education in the state division of behavioral health.
School district sees increase in OCS referrals, suicide risk assessments
By Victoria Petersen, Peninsula Clarion 
Photo by Victoria Petersen
The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has so far this year seen an increased number of suicide risk assessments and referrals to the Office of Children's Services compared to the previous year. As of last week, the district has conducted 110 suicide risk assessments on students this year, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction John O'Brien told the school board during a work session on Monday. Last year, the school district reached a record high of 140 suicide risk assessments for the full year. Suicide risk assessments are done on students who have exhibited suicidal ideation. In recent years, the district has been working to get more counselors and psychologists in schools to help alleviate growing issues with students' mental health.
Final Rule On School Food Values Choice Over Children's Health
By Ariel Knoebel, Forbes
Marybeth Whalen, Foodservice Director for the Lower Kuskokwim School District in Bethel, Alaska, is in the business of feeding children. Her district of approximately 4300 students falls under the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which means enough families in the district qualify for free breakfast and lunch that they offer universal free feeding at each of her 28 school sites spread out over a geographical area roughly the size of West Virginia, many of which are accessible only by boat or plane for much of the year. She has the challenging job of figuring out how to get food to these schools that the highest percentage of kids will like while maintaining federal nutrition guidelines.
Ready Player One? Anchorage students compete in E-sports this school year
By Shawn Wilson, KTUU Channel 2
Photo: KTUU Channel 2
Students in the Anchorage School District started competing in E-sports this school year. A competitive gaming club started up at Dimond High School and has grown in the spring semester. Dimond High E-sports president Noah Marrs says the competition helps to bring the gaming community across the state together. "For league members, it's a good tournament style. Lots of competition," Marrs said. "There's state (competition) between Alaska and all the teams in Alaska. And another state Connecticut, I think to play against." Dimond High School recently won medals in an Alaska finals competition.
Juneau high school incorporates Alaska Native name 
By Mollie Barnes, Juneau Empire
Photo: Michael Penn,
Juneau Empire
Students learn about themselves and shape their identities in high school. But in this case, it's the school itself that is embracing a new identity. After a yearlong student-led effort and hearing many emotional public testimonies, the school board voted unanimously to adopt a gifted name addition for Juneau-Douglas High School. Its new name is the same of the mountain that towers above it: Yadaa.at Kalé, meaning "beautifully adorned face" in the Tlingit language. The official name Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kalé High School honors past and present occupancy of the tribes in the school area.
It's official: Anchorage School District teachers have a new contract
By Tegan Hanlon, Anchorage Daily News 
Photo: Tegan Hanlon, ADN
It's official: The roughly 3,300 members of the Anchorage Education Association teachers union have a new three-year contract . The Anchorage School Board sealed the deal at its meeting Monday night, marking the end of months of contentious contract negotiations . The board approved the contract in a 4-2 vote, but not before expressing several concerns. Board members Dave Donley and Mark Foster voted against the contract. Board member Elisa Snelling was absent.
Superintendent Vacancies & District Openings

Yupiit School District 
The Yupiit Board of Education desires a superintendent that understands, appreciates and will be involved in our local Yup'ik culture. The Board seeks a superintendent that will work to build trusting, positive relationships with employees, regional board members, local advisory board members, and all stakeholders in the three villages of the district (Akiachak, Akiak, and Tuluksak).
The applicant will recognize and have experience with the uniquely important role of village school principals and their associated local advisory boards and work to support their success in effectively educating Yupiit students who are connected to their local culture and traditions. The Board is seeking an individual that has demonstrated experience with effective and uniquely appropriate ways of measuring student growth and proficiency that recognizes the learning styles and cultural qualities of indigenous people.
The ideal candidate will be adept and experienced in working with federal, state and local agencies including our tribal governments in a collaborative fashion that promotes meeting the needs of Yupiit student success and academic achievement.
The Board is willing to offer a competitive salary in the $120,000 - $130,000 range (DOE) for a 260-day contract. A comprehensive benefits package with 30 days of paid vacation, family medical insurance, life insurance, and a relocation package are available.

The Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) is facilitating the search.   
Search Timetable:
  • Application deadline: January 28, 2019
  • Selection of Finalists: February 8, 2019
  • Interviews in Akiachak: Feb 18 - 20, 2019
  • Employment begins: July 1, 2019 
Application Materials should be sent to:
Association of Alaska School Boards
1111 W. 9th St., Juneau, Alaska 99801
Phone: (907) 463-1660  
Email:   khultengren@aasb.org 
More Information: 
Please visit the Association's website at aasb.org for additional information about this search and required application materials.
Lon Garrison ( lgarrison@aasb.org  ) and Timi Tullis ( ttullis@aasb.org  ) will serve as the AASB consultants for the Yupiit School District superintendent search.

Delta/Greely School District 
The Board of Education of the Delta/Greely  School District is conducting a search for a Superintendent. The successful candidate will be community oriented and willing to become an active and integral part of the Delta/Greely communities. S/he will keep the success of all students in the forefront of all decisions. The successful individual will have a strong background in fiscal management as well as familiarity of special educational best practices.  Candidates with demonstrated ability to lead a veteran team and board are highly desirable.   
The Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) is facilitating the search.   

Projected Search Timetable  
All applications will be acknowledged. The Board will review all applications and select a limited number of candidates to interview onsite. 
  • Closing date for all application material: January 31, 2019.  
  • Interviews for finalists conducted in the district: Week of March 4, 2019 
  • New superintendent begins work: July 1, 2019. 
The following items must accompany all applications:
  • Confidential placement file including academic transcripts
  • Confidential AASB reference forms (available online)
  • Cover letter 
  • Current resume
  • Copy of Alaska Type B Certificate with a superintendent endorsement OR verification that the candidate has the necessary credentials to obtain such certification
Application Materials should be sent to:
Association of Alaska School Boards
1111 W. 9th St., Juneau, Alaska 99801
Phone: (907) 463-1660  
Email:   khultengren@aasb.org 
More Information:
Looking for a New Superintendent?
The Association of Alaska School Boards has been conducting superintendent searches for over 20 years.
Learn about our Search Services >

If you would like AASB to conduct a superintendent search for your district, or have questions, Contact Us >
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