Alaska Council of
School Administrators

Education Bulletin
Volume 23 Number 3, November 2017
 Leadership, Unity and Advocacy for Public Education
Alaska Superintendents Association
Alaska Staff Development Network
Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals
Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals
Alaska Association of School Business Officials
Alaska Council of School Administrators
Time to Reflect - and to Rise!
Dr. Lisa Skiles Parady, ACSA/ASA/AASSP Executive Director

As we move towards mid-winter and the holidays, it is a time to reflect on the past year and the challenges before us as we turn the calendar.

Any reasonable assessment of the past three years in Juneau would conclude that the inaction and inability to compromise has put public education at serious risk. From failing to raise revenue to sweeping away forward funding to the pretense of transforming education, not much has been accomplished.

Leadership Presence
Mary McMahon, ACSA & AASSP Past-President

Everyday intentional actions make a big difference when it comes to transforming our schools.

Are you ready? To accept the challenge? To face the truth?

I ask these questions to get to the heart of who you are as a leader. I have found that transformative leaders take consistent, intentional action, every single day. They show up. They focus. They are present. Regardless of the resources, they focus on what they can do and spend their energy doing it. They find solutions and they act.

Alaska Superintendents Association
Sharing Early Attempts is Key to Districtwide Momentum Toward Personalized Learning 
Dr. Karen Gaborik, ASA President
As Fairbanks advances through our district-wide implementation of personalized learning, it has been exciting to see elementary teachers lead the way in the design and application of instructional models that will more effectively meet students’ needs. These educators are fully engaged in the process of internalizing their training, using design-thinking to create student-centered classrooms, developing dynamic scaffolds to support student learning, and leveraging technology to more accurately assess student learning and target instruction.

Embracing an Attitude of Continuous Improvement

Sean Dusek, ASA Past-President

“Transforming education is not easy, but the price of failure is more than we can afford, while the benefits of success are more than we can imagine.” This quote by Ken Robinson resonates in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Over the first quarter of this school year, I have had the opportunity to visit many of our schools and speak with many different organizations. What I have found is that there is widespread support for our schools and many student successes to celebrate. But, even though there is solid support and we are seeing positive results, there is also much work to do.

Dynamic Stability : A Model for Transformative Leadership
John Conwell, 2018 Superintendent of the Year, Unalaska City School District

With the launch of Alaska’s Education Challenge nearly a year ago, a diverse group of Alaskans took on the daunting task of taking a close look at the current system of public education in Alaska. Focused on five general priorities, Challenge committees are tasked with providing suggestions for transforming Alaska’s public education. Implementation of the Challenge committees’ recommendations will require superintendents and principals to provide innovative and transformative leadership for their districts and schools.

State Board of Education and Early Development
Should I stay or should I go...

James Fields, Chair, State of Board of Education and Early Development

As I am sure you are aware, we have just completed the first step of Alaska’s Education Challenge, which involved getting the recommendations from subcommittees on each strategic priority. Great work was done by Alaskans to come up with recommendations from a wide variety of stakeholders. The recommendations can be viewed online at: .

Alaska’s Education Challenge and Transformative Change
Jerry Covey, Managing Partner, JSC Consulting, LLC

In September 2016, the Alaska State Board of Education initiated strategic action that resulted in the establishment of Alaska’s Education Challenge and led to 13 transformative recommendations for our public education system.

Businesses are Champions for Children!
Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN)
Kathy Blanc, ASDN Administrator

The Alaska Staff Development Network is a professional education resource designed for Alaska's teachers and school administrators. Check  for a complete list of all of our courses and events.

Registration   is now open for the
2018 Alaska RTI/MTSS Effective Instruction Conference
Sign up now for the best choice of sessions.
We hope you will join us again at the Dena’ina Center on January 26-28. Conference registration fees are the same as last year. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn from nationally recognized experts without the expense of out-of-state travel!  
·          Michael Horn  and  Heather Staker,  the authors of  Blended , will provide the  Why  and  How  of using blended learning to improve personalization and build a more student-centered school. They will provide inspiration and practical implementation guidance for educators seeking to incorporate online learning with traditional classroom time. 
·         ​​ Doug Fisher  and  Dr. Anita Archer  will focus on using explicit instruction and lessons from  Visible Learning for Literacy  (Fisher, Frey and Hattie). 
·         ​​Math and RTI experts  Dr. Doug Clements  and  Dr. Karen Karp  will explore the latest research in the building blocks of early mathematics and how to support struggling students in Math.
·          Using Hattie’s  Visible Learning  research as a base,  Dr. Peter DeWitt and Dominique Smith  will explore the most impactful strategies for teachers and school leaders to improve school climate and teacher-student relationships. 
·         ​​ Dr. Chris Blodgett  will discuss how to move from ACES to action—what trauma‑informed practice really looks like in the classroom, based on his work in Washington State and Alaska, and how to make progress in schools and communities with limited resources.
·         ​​ Jenni Donohoo  will investigate the research behind collective teacher efficacy, Hattie’s number one factor that influences student achievement, and how to foster collective efficacy in your school and district
·         ​​ Dr. Margaret Heritage  will discuss how to build skills with formative assessment to personalize and support all students’ learning.
·         ​​Consider strategies for “Better Conversations” with  Tricia McKale Skyles.  Schools are only as good as the conversations that take place in them. Learn how to adopt the habits essential to transforming the quality of our dialogues. Skyes will also explore how video can completely change the way we “do” professional learning and improve our teaching methods.
For more information and to register, go to
Alaska Association of
Secondary School Principals
The Power of a Hero, the Power of You

Dan Carstens, AASSP President

To me, a hero is someone who exemplifies a life, skills, or trait that we desire to possess. Oftentimes, we will read a book, watch a video, or attend a conference that may give us a path to becoming more like that person. Often, we come to find out that the more we try to emulate our heroes, the more we fail. At times, we forget how much our heroes failed before they finally figured it out.

Dr. Kersten Johnson-Struempler Alaska Principal of the Year
Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals

Dr. Kersten Johnson-Struempler, Senior Director of Secondary Education
Anchorage School District, has been selected as the Alaska Secondary School Principal of the Year by the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP). Principal Johnson-Struempler has served as principal at South Anchorage High School for seven years.

Kerstens daughter, Dr. Deena Bishop,Superintendent Anchorage School District , Commissioner of Education, Dr.   Michael Johnson
Kersten, Kersten's Daughter, Superintendent Bishop, and Commissioner Johnson
Alaska Association of
Elementary School Principals
Transform and Unify
Deanna Beck, AAESP President, ACSA President-Elect

This year, several members of our staff are reading Teach Like a PIRATE, by Dave Burgess, while I’m reading Lead Like a PIRATE, by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf. In both books, “PIRATE” is an acronym, with “T” representing “Transformation.” Burgess and Houf share that as school leaders we must be courageous in our willingness to take risks for growth and make a stand to make our schools better.

Vrvilo Honored as Alaska's 2017 National Distinguished Principal
Last June, the Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals (AAESP) named Lisa Vrvilo, Principal at Cottonwood Elementary in Wasilla, Alaska’s 2017 National Distinguished Principal. Vrvilo traveled to Washington D.C. in October for two days of activities to honor and bring well-deserved recognition to the elementary educators selected by their respective states.

Alaska Association of
School Business Officials
Holly Holman, ALASBO President

I hope everyone’s school year is off to a great start! ALASBO members have been busy completing the school district’s annual audits and getting ready for the 2017-2018 school year. ALASBO has hosted several events since the beginning of our fiscal year, and we are looking forward to our December conference.

Dealing with the “Boulders” in Your Life
Amy Lujan, ALASBO Executive Director  

Many Alaskans enjoy outdoor adventures. But have you ever thought about what you would do in the event of a serious accident? What would you be willing to do to save your own life, or that of someone else?

ALASBO members confronted this question when we had the chance to hear Aron Ralston speak at the ASBO International conference a few weeks ago. Aron’s survival story was the subject of a major motion picture, 127 Hours, starring James Franco, and Aron is almost as good looking as Franco!

ALASBO Chart of Accounts Review Committee Seeks Input
Luke Fulp, Assistant Superintendent, Mat-Su Borough School District

The Alaska Association of School Business Officials (ALASBO) has established an ad hoc committee to work on proposed revisions to the Uniform Chart of Accounts for Alaska School Districts (“Chart of Accounts”). The committee is made up of representatives of large and small districts, as well as staff from the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

2017-2018 Educational Association Events
November 2017
AASA's Superintendent of the Year Gala & Forum, November 08-10, Washington D.C.

December 2017
ALASBO Annual Conference, December 03-06, Anchorage, AK.

January 2018
Alaska RTI/MTSS Effective Instruction Conference, January 26-28, Anchorage, AK.

AASA's 2018 National Conference on Education, February 15-17, Nashville, TN.

ACSA Legislative Fly In, April 8-11, Juneau, AK.
ACSA Board of Directors and Staff

Mary McMahon, President - ACSA President, AASSP Past-President
Colony Middle School  
Deanna Beck, ACSA President-Elect, AAESP President
Northwood ABC Elementary School
Dr. Karen Gaborik, ASA President
Fairbanks School District
Patrick Mayer, ASA President-Elect
Wrangell Public Schools
Dan Carstens, AASSP President
Nikiski Middle High School
Brendan Wilson, AASSP Alaska State Coordinator
Wendler Middle School
Eric Pederson, AAESP President-Elect
Paul Banks Elementary School
Kim Bautista, AAESP Vice President
Susitna Elementary
Kerry Boyd, ASA Secretary
Yukon-Koyukuk School District
Holly Holman, ALASBO President
Unalaska City School District
Cassee Olin, ALASBO President-Elect
Sitka School District

Dr. Lisa Skiles Parady
Executive Director,
Heather Johnson-Smith
Membership and Development Manager
Kathy Blanc
Administrator, ASDN

Kelly Tonsmeire
Grant Director, ASDN
Ceann Murphy
Program Coordinator, ACSA/ASDN

John Sedor
Special Projects Director

John Pile
Executive Director, AAESP
Amy Lujan
Executive Director, ALASBO 
Alaska Council of School Administrators