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.

Norm Wooten,
AASB Executive Director

Bob Whicker, CDL Director
& Tammy Van Whye, Superintendent, Copper River
Pete Hoepfner,
AASB Board President

How to Be a Better Board Member? Be at Annual Conference!
We're just days away from the conference. Why do we get excited over an event that takes a year of planning and is totally exhausting? I'll tell you:
What Does Modernization of Education look Like?  
A Vision of Alaska's Education System
What could our education system look like when today's kindergarten students graduate in the year 2030?
Family Engagement and Increasing Student Achievement
Family engagement has a positive impact on student outcomes and school improvement. Strategies most related to student achievement include:
Board Member of Anchorage School District and an accountant who loves numbers.
Elisa Snelling
Each month Commentary will feature 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 Elisa Snelling from Anchorage School District.  
Guest Columns
As with all great treks, each step makes the next one possible
By Dr. Michael Johnson, Commissioner, Department of Education and Early Development 
Dr. Michael Johnson
Denali National Park is one of my favorite spots on Earth. My wife and I have enjoyed camping, hiking, and viewing the wildlife. During one visit, I remember a group of us standing in the Eielson Visitor Center looking down over the valley. From the clarity of our perch, we plotted our trek for the day. Our pathway seemed clear...until we started hiking. Each step took us farther down into the valley and brush, making it harder to see what was ahead and behind us. That's not unlike the experience of over a hundred Alaskans who have led the Alaska Education Challenge. 
We Must Begin to Celebrate Our Teachers 
By James Harris, 2017 Alaska Teacher of the Year, English teacher at Soldotna High School 
James Harris
Being chosen to be the 2017 Alaska Teacher of Year has been an honor, but it has also felt strange, because I am only one of a precious legion of others who dedicate their very best selves to educating the youth of our great state, and it makes little sense to honor one of us when the vast majority in my profession here in Alaska are not only uncelebrated, but woefully undervalued. So along with some outstanding and surreal opportunities this year has offered, it has also presented me with an uncomfortable mandate: to use whatever voice this position has given me to demand that we begin to celebrate our teachers.
"I pledge allegiance to [which?] flag ..."
By John M. Sedor of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC 
John Sedor
Part one of a four part review of the Freedom of Expression in Schools.
You may have experienced this: sitting down to watch an NFL football game and watching a civics lesson break out. Since Colin Kaepernick sat during the National Anthem, the debate as to whether and how to protest in reference to the Anthem or Pledge of Allegiance (the school equivalent to the Anthem) has reached the sports pages as well as the highest levels of our government. It has also reached our schools.  
What's So Important About Employee Documentation? 
By Carleen Mitchell, Administrative Manager, Alaska Public Entity Insurance
Carleen Mitchell
It's the mantra of all human resource managers: document, document, document! In the instance of an EEO complaint or an employment practices liability claim, one of the first things an investigator or attorney will look for is documentation supporting an employer's actions. Ensuring that all personnel actions are appropriately documented can save an employer (and their insurance company!) thousands of dollars in defense fees. 
AASB Events
AASB's Annual Conference is an opportunity for Alaska's education leaders to convene for training opportunities, relationship building, and to experience a variety of dynamic events, talks, and sectionals. This year we look forward to hosting over 300 school board members, students attending the Youth Leadership Institute, speakers and guests in Anchorage. See you there!
Register Now: 2018 School Climate & Connectedness Survey (SCCS) 
Registration is now open for Alaska's 2018 School Climate & Connectedness Survey (SCCS)

Join 30 Alaska school districts to collect and use school climate data to improve and strengthen your schools' environment, relationships, and connections between students & staff. The 2018 SCCS includes:
  • New Interactive Survey platform  
  • New Family Survey option to see student, staff, and family perceptions side-by-side.
  • Training and Support on how to oversee the survey and use the survey platform
  • Support on how to use survey results
For more information, contact Jenni Lefing  
Board Briefs
What? A new service to keep you current?!
Want to keep your policy manual alive and relevant?  Make sure to come see our exclusive partner, Microscribe Publishing, at Snapshots and in CDL's Sunday session to see what we've been cooking up!    
When filling a vacant board slot, what questions should applicants be asked during interviews?
Here are some questions for current board members to ask potential new board members:  
1 Minute Read >
Does your district incorporate Alaska Native language and culture into instruction?   
Is curriculum that includes indigenous traditional customs and values offered in your school(s)?
Take 30 second Poll >
Last Month's Snapshot Poll Results
How does your district retain good teachers?  

Which of these incentives make teachers in your district want to stay?
Film Documents Kodiak Women Fighting to Save Alutiiq Language
By Staff  
Filmed over five years in and around Kodiak, Keep Talking is a documentary about resilience, empowerment and community as told through the stories of four young women fighting to reclaim and revitalize the Alutiiq language, which has less than 40 fluent speakers left. Keep Talking received special mention during its October 3 world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival. It is also an official selection of the Anchorage International Film Festival, and will be screened at the upcoming Hawaii International Film Festival, Wisconsin's Driftless Film Festival, and the American Indian Film Institute Festival.
Barrow Student Confronts Climate Change In Independent Film
By Shady Grove Oliver, Arctic Sounder  
A scene from the film
"Climate Change"
"How can we lose 10,000 years of guardianship of our lands in just 50 years?" That's the question at the heart of an independent short film by Barrow High School senior Eben Hopson, 17. The film is called "Climate Change," and it tells a part of the story locals know well. "It's really affecting the coastal communities of Alaska," said Hopson. "I wanted to let people know that the younger generations are paying attention to what's going on around them and that they are concerned about the future of themselves and the Arctic."
Eagle River High School Students Launch School Newspaper
By Kirsten Swann, Chugiak-Eagle River Star 
Members of the Eagle River High School newspaper club Photo by Kirsten Swann
A pack of Eagle River Wolves are taking the news into their own paws. The newly formed school newspaper - the ERHS Howl - began publishing online this semester, with plans to expand into print later this year. In the weeks since school began, the Howl's young journalists have covered everything from sporting events to school art projects to profiles of students and staff. "We've got a pretty awesome team of students - man, they kind of hit the ground running," said ERHS English teacher Erik Johnson, sitting on a desk in his classroom one Thursday at lunch.
Juneau School Board approves renaming Gastineau School to include Tlingit word 'Sayéik'
By Alex McCarthy, Juneau Empire
Raven totem pole at Gastineau School
One item on the recent Juneau School Board agenda was the name augmentation of Gastineau Community School, adding the Tlingit name "Sayéik" to the school. This word, meaning "Spirit Helper," was the original name of the area, Douglas Indian Association (DIA) Officer Barbara Cadiente-Nelson said. The name augmentation is part of a healing process revolving around racial atrocities in the city's past against Alaska Natives.
Test results point to achievement gaps among Sitka's students
By Robert Woolsey, KCAW, Sitka
Sarah Ferrency explains the district's testing methodology.
Based on the latest test scores, Sitka's school district is performing above the state average - but the numbers are not necessarily something to brag about. Instead, Sitka's educators hope the new test results help them focus their efforts on under-performing populations in the schools. Assistant Superintendent Sarah Ferrency told the Sitka School Board during a work session earlier this month that none of this was unexpected.
Students Learn To Love STEM Education
By Shady Grove Oliver, Arctic Sounder  
Middle school students participate in STEM program
It's afternoon when the shaking starts. The floor rumbles. The walls sway back and forth. Will the support beams hold? The 60 seconds on the clock tick down and the building stays standing. Surviving this earthquake means success for the Northwest Arctic Borough students who've traveled to Anchorage this month for the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program's middle school academy.
Local Culinary Students Get On-the-water Education
By Kirsten Swann, Chugiak-Eagle River Star   
Culinary arts and management students board the MS Amsterdam
On a rainy, overcast Monday morning, two tour busloads of local high school students pulled into the Port of Anchorage to spend the day in a different kind of classroom. The MS Amsterdam, a 1,400-passenger cruise ship operated by Holland America Line, was moored at the port on one of its final Alaska voyages of the season. As cruise-goers disembarked, bound for a day of sightseeing in downtown Anchorage, culinary arts and management students from Chugiak, Eagle River, Service and East High School toured the vessel, ate in the dining room and met with chefs and ship managers.
New Website Designed to Help Teach Alaska Native Language
By David Spindler, KTVF, Fairbanks 
Iñupiat Language
instructional website
A student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has created a website designed to help Alaska Natives learn the Iñupiat language. UAF student Chelsey Zibell created the website called "Inupiat Language" for students at the university, and the public, to learn the basics of the native language. Zibell had been working on this website as part of a summer graduate fellowship program through UAF's e-Learning and Distance Education program.
Native Americans No Closer to Learning Fates of Boarding School Ancestors
By Cecily Hilleary, Voice of America 
Alaska Native children on board a ship to Carlisle Indian Industrial School, 1879
A Native American advocacy group says the U.S. government has failed in its responsibility to account for the fate of hundreds, perhaps thousands of children who died or disappeared into a historic boarding school system designed to "civilize" and Christianize generations of Native American children. Now, the group is hoping to take its case to the United Nations. Beginning in the 1870s, as part of its policy of forced assimilation of tribes, the U.S. government took hundreds of thousands of Native American and Alaska Native children from their families and placed them in off-reservation boarding schools, a practice that continued until the 1970s.
Flag contest helped tough-luck teen become one of Alaska's favorite sons
By Ann Cameron Siegal, The Washington Post  
Benny Benson, age 13, after winning Alaska flag contest
Of 142 entries submitted from territory schools, Benny's design was chosen because of its simplicity. His written description of his design stated: "The blue field is for the Alaska Sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaskan flower. The North Star is for the future of Alaska, the most northerly in the union. The Dipper is for the Great Bear - symbolizing strength."
Hackers are targeting schools, U.S. Department of Education warns  
By Selena Larson, CNN 
U.S. Dept. of Ed warns of cyberthreat targeting school districts across country.
School environments often don't have many technology resources dedicated to security, but do have some of the richest personal information, including social security numbers, birth dates, and, potentially, medical and financial information. Districts with weak data security, or well-known vulnerabilities that enable the attackers to gain access to sensitive data are being targeted.
What's Happening In Your District? 
Include Your News in Commentary! 
Superintendent Vacancies & District Openings
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 >
Superintendent - Nenana City School District

The Nenana City School District is requesting applications for the position of Superintendent. Expected start date July 1, 2018.

Candidates should send a letter of interest, a CV or résumé, and three professional references to:
Susan Kauffman, Secretary to the Superintendent
Nenana City School District
PO Box 10
Nenana, AK 99760
Phone: 907-832-5464

Applications may be submitted via regular mail or e-mail and must be received by 5:00 p.m. Alaska Time on Monday, January 15, 2018.

Superintendent - Valdez City Schools
Valdez, Alaska

Superintendent Opening for 2018-2019
Deadline for application Jan 8, 2018
Please contact Jim Nygaard, Superintendent of Schools
for more information.
Phone: 907-835-4357

Business Manager - Yupiit School District
Akiachak, Alaska

Duties and Responsibilities include:
  • Supervises the management of the financial affairs of the schools.
  • Assumes responsibility for budget development and long-range financial planning.
  • Establishes and supervises a program of accounting adequate to record in detail all money and credit transaction.
  • Supervises all accounting operations.
  • Acts a payroll officer for the district
The Board is willing to offer $115,000 DOE for the right applicant. Alaska school finance experience is paramount, as is the ability to work well with Yup'ik people. 
Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube  View on Instagram  View our photos on flickr