STEPS Alaska Updates
Stepping Up for Alaska's Youth!
TCLL students harvest Devil's Club on Douglas Island. Photo credit: Connor Meyer - June 2022
Welcome back! We’re so excited to be starting our 6th school year as a STEPS collective impact project!

As we wrap up summer and transition back to school, we’d like to take this opportunity to offer our sincerest gratitude to all our STEPS partners. We know that many of you are starting this next school year under-staffed, over-extended, and with big dreams. We hope that the relationships you’ve made through STEPS can continue to support, inspire, and encourage you as we embark on this next school year together.

In this month’s newsletter, we review our goal of supporting positive conditions for learning and provide some examples of how STEPS partners are doing this important work, share some highlights from summer programming, and provide some information about important upcoming opportunities in our STEPS region. 

Don’t forget to check out Key Dates for STEPS - 22-23 School Year at the very end!
Conditions for Learning
What can growing blueberries teach us about the conditions for learning?
If you're like many Alaskans, you probably spent some time outside gardening or gathering this summer. You likely noticed that the juiciest berries and crispest carrots tend to grow where the conditions are right. Students are similar; they grow the most in the best conditions.

We know that blueberry plants need certain conditions to grow: acidic soil, strong roots, water, and good light. So, what are the conditions that students need to thrive? How do we know if we have the right conditions in place? And what tools and resources can help us create those conditions?
What do Conditions for Learning look like?
Students need a healthy, supportive, and engaging environment in order to do their best learning. Their basic needs have to be met and they need to feel safe - emotionally, physically, culturally, and socially. Creating a positive school climate includes creating the conditions for learning required at school. 

Some common characteristics of a positive school climate are:
In addition, many schools work with community partners and families to help ensure that Conditions for Learning outside of school are met. This might include supporting families to meet needs and link to learning, creating safe and supportive afterschool environments, and supporting community equity work to break down barriers for marginalized groups.
How do we know if we have the right conditions for learning?
Similar to soil conditions, we can test our school conditions. The School Climate and Connectedness Survey can help schools know how to continue to create the best conditions within the school. 

Some other tools may include Community dialogues, youth leadership opportunities, individual conversations with families, public testimony, school events, and social media. 

School districts or partner organizations can be great resources for helping. For example, NAMI in Juneau hosted a conversation on the mental health needs in the Juneau community and Tlingit and Haida language teachers across the region shared with organizational leaders some of the supports needed to effectively teach the language, and in Hydaburg students shared ways they thought they could have an impact on the school climate.
So how are STEPS partners creating the conditions for learning?
STEPS partners are leading the way toward healthy learning environments.

…in Sitka, the district and Sitka Tribe of Alaska staff and three district cultural para-educators provided academic support to Alaska Native elementary school students who were falling behind and supporting teachers with cultural enrichment in the classroom. In addition, five Sitka Tribe youth program staff provided support at the high school level and with post-secondary transitions. Students report positive relationships with caring adults as a result of these connections in the school building.

…in Angoon, students ran a cafe every Saturday. Students were in charge of the prep, cooking, customer service, sales, and clean-up. Opportunities like this allow students to connect with their school and community, fostering better engagement, connections with supportive peers and adults, and developing a vision and skills for their future. 

Summer is for Growing
Learning & Professional Development Focused on Cultural and
Place-based connections
While summer can be a time for rest, vacation, and time off, many of our STEPS partners were very busy! Continued learning through professional development, rich cultural summer programs for students, and year-round programming occurred all summer long. 

Some highlights include:
Summer Career Academy
The University of Alaska Southeast and Juneau STEPS Partners hosted a week-long academy for Southeast Alaska students... Read More
SHI Celebration 2022
It was nice to see so many friends and families at Sealaska Heritage Institute's Celebration in June.
Summer Culture Camps
Haa Leelk’u Has Aani in Angoon with the participation of staff and students from Hoonah & Juneau engaged students in hands-on nutrition education... Read More
Harvard Grad School of Education
AASB staff and Sitka School District attended the Harvard Grad School of Education’s Family Partnership week-long training... Read More
2022- 2023 STEPS Partner Events Calendar

STEPS Welcome Back to School (virtual) gathering!
September 15th, 10 - 2 p.m. 
Re-connect and meet new staff. The meeting will help partners focus on workplans and our shared goal of the STEPS grant.
Learn about 2022-2023 learning, partnerships and funding opportunities.
When: September 15th, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Register Here

Annual STEPS reporting meeting
*This is a requirement for all funded partners that submit program or fiscal/reimbursement reports. Staff that complete financial or program must attend. 
  • Learn about the latest updates to program, fiscal, and match reporting templates.
  • 2023 STEPs funding.
  • Meet new staff at AASB and in partner organizations.
When: September 29, 2022 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. 
Where: Join us via Zoom Link
Passcode: 285445 Meeting ID: 894 9839 4219

For Educators & Practitioners

Our Cultural Landscape: Culturally Responsive Education Conference
August 11 - 13, 2022
In Juneau, with key elements offered virtually

Sealaska Heritage Institute has hosted inspiring conferences that are free for educators to attend. The theme of this year’s conference is “Our Way of Life Persists.” This year the hybrid event can also be accessed on Zoom:

Alaska STEAM Conference
October 14 and 15, 2022

This statewide gathering of educators will be held in Juneau this fall. Please consider sharing your wisdom by submitting a proposal to lead a session.  

Now for Next; Turning the curve on Alaska postsecondary outcomes workshop
November 7

Mark your calendars for this statewide conversation examining how schools, families, higher ed, employers, and others to look at what we can do now to help students prepare for what’s next. AASB has some travel funding for STEPS partners. If you’re interested in attending, please reach out to Emily,

For Students and Families

The Arctic Youth Ambassadors Program brings together diverse youth from across Alaska to serve as ambassadors for their communities and country in building awareness at home and abroad about life in the Arctic. Students can sign-up for more information here:
Looking for additional ideas? Check out the STEPS Resources page for past newsletters and other STEPS-related resources.