Sources of Strength suicide prevention efforts in KPBSD

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Suicide Prevention and Awareness

“While suicide is sometimes a difficult topic to discuss, it is also paramount that we as a community address it head on. Programs such as Sources of Strength are critical components of our commitment and dedication to support our students through the myriad of issues they may experience throughout their lives.” –Sean Dusek, superintendent

KPBSD is dedicated to provide suicide awareness and wellness education to students, staff, and the greater Kenai Peninsula community. GCI and The Alaska Foundation released a PSA video on September 22, to highlight the work KPBSD is doing with Sources of Strength, through the GCI Suicide Prevention Grant.

September is national suicide awareness month, and the Alaska suicide rate is twice the national average. Several schools are creating a Wall of Hope. In addition, KPBSD received a variety of grants from the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) and the Alaska Community Foundation to support suicide prevention programming and training to not only our adults, but also our students. In the spring of 2017, over 75 students and adults from Homer, Kenai, and Seward received training in Sources of Strength (SOS). SOS is a strength-based comprehensive wellness program that focuses on suicide prevention but affects other issues such as substance abuse and violence. In early October, Soldotna High School will join the SOS team, and on October 13, high school students from Seward, Homer, Soldotna, and Kenai will participate in a Sources of Strength Upstream Conference in Kenai.

“At the school level, our school psychologists and school counselors are trained and use suicide risk assessments for students who are in need of support,” said Clayton Holland, director of pupil services. “Their good work together with our staff and school administration offer support to at-risk students and provide resources to students and families.”

Several KPBSD counselors are trainers for evidence-based wellness programs such as Youth Mental Health First Aide and The Fourth R. KPBSD will continue to foster and share resources with mental health organizations to increase coordination and support for our students and community members about suicide prevention and wellness.

Sources of Strength frisbee KPBSD


GCI Press Release: ‘Sources of Strength’ bolsters suicide prevention efforts on Kenai Peninsula

2017 Sources of Strength training


News Release: Native Education Title VI Advisory Committee

KPBSD Native Education Title VI Advisory Committee seeks parent, student, and staff KPBSD logo 4c no tag SMALLmembers to serve

Are you interested in setting priorities to meet the unique educational and culturally related academic needs of our 1,200 Alaska Native and Native American students? Is encouraging or assisting our Alaska Native and Native American students to stay in school and pursue further education a value to you?

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Title VI (Indian Education), formerly known as Title VII, seeks parent, student, and staff advisory committee representatives. The qualities desirable in the members of the advisory committee are:

  • Willingness to actively participate
  • Involvement in community affairs
  • Represent the interest of all children in the KPBSD who are eligible for Title VI

Committee members must commit to quarterly meetings, usually held at the KPBSD office building in Soldotna. Remote area representatives participate via Skype for Business.

Seats by Region
Parent Representative A parent is any person who on the date of election for Advisory Committee membership is the parent, acting local parent, legal guardian, or elder of a student currently eligible for Title VI and enrolled in KPBSD

  • Seat A—Region 1 (Tyonek, Nikiski, Kenai)
  • Seat B—Region 2 (Sterling, Soldotna)
  • Seat C—Region 3 (Seward, Moose Pass, Cooper Landing, Hope)

Student Representative Any KPBSD Title VI enrolled student

  • Seat G—At-large
  • Seat H—At-large

Staff Representative Any KPBSD employee

  • Seat I—At-large

The KPBSD Title VI Advisory Committee is a requirement of the federal government to receive Title VI funds and assists KPBSD in setting the priorities to meet the unique educational and culturally related academic needs of Alaska Native and Native American student population. The KPBSD Title VI Advisory Committee will also consider and make recommendations as to programs, projects, or other efforts specifically aimed at encouraging or assisting Alaska Native and Native American students to stay in school and pursue further education.

Nominations for membership are due by noon on September 19, 2017, and can be submitted by Region to Conrad Woodhead, KPBSD Native Education Coordinator, at Questions? Please call 907-235-8671.

A Title VI Advisory Committee Meeting will take place September 20, 2017, from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. in the Borough Assembly Chambers in Soldotna.



Future State Trooper Nash

KPBSD observes international FASD Awareness Day

News Release

Soldotna, September 8, 2017— Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) do affect KPBSD students, and September 9, 2017, marks international FASD awareness day. The KPBSD, together with our board of education, community agencies, and families recognize the challenges of FASD. We are working with and supporting our students and families, providing FASD education, awareness, and parent support groups. On September 1, 2017, Governor Walker proclaimed September 9, 2017 as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day in Alaska.


Public awareness

Learn about the danger of drinking alcohol during pregnancy and the plight of individuals and families who struggle with the impact of FASD challenges.

KPBSD focus

“Our goal is to understand and support our students with FASD, provide support for their families, and hopefully create enough awareness about FASD that we significantly alter the number of future students impacted with FASD,” said Clayton Holland, director of KPSBD pupil services. “It is estimated that 2-5% of the entire population of the United States is impacted by FASD. Alaska has taken the lead in recognizing this disability and doing proactive work in this area. The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has a long term commitment to training our staff to work effectively with students impacted by FASD, providing preventive education to our students and the community, and providing support to the families and care providers of those with FASD. Our work has already resulted in a significant reduction in discipline across the district and we believe the long term outcome is a healthier community and state.”

Deb Evensen, FASD expert, said, “I am honored to be assisting KPBSD as they work toward their goal of more effectively supporting students with FASD, in every grade level and in every program. This work is a bold step for KPBSD who is leading the way to address this challenge. As we improve our understanding and support for those now living with FASD, we nurture the growing public awareness of what causes this disability, and help create the path to a future where FASD no longer exists.”

“FASD Awareness Day should be a time for all of us at KPBSD to consider the effects of this disorder and to learn how we can better support our students who have this disability,” said Sean Dusek, superintendent.

2017 August FASD potluckSaturday, September 9, 2017, KPBSD Fall FASD Family Potluck

All birth, foster, and adoptive families in KPBSD raising children with FASD are invited to come together for a picnic on International FASD Day, from 11:00 – 2:00, at Soldotna Creek Park. Families are asked to bring a potluck dish to share and table service for their family. This event marks the beginning of four FASD family support events for the year.

FASD projects in the KPBSD

  • Beginning, intermediate, and advanced training on FASD available to all educators throughout the district
  • Specific on-site consultations and assistance in the classroom regarding specific students
  • A friendly support group for caregivers of children with a FASD diagnosis
  • Work with health teachers to provide FASD information and awareness for all students

 KPBSD parent education and support meetings

Several times throughout the 2017-2018 school year, an evening is scheduled for KPBSD caregivers for children with FASD to meet. The gatherings connect caregivers, and take place in Homer, Seward, and the central peninsula. We’ve learned that our parents experience relief and appreciation to be able to talk with each other in a group facilitated by an FASD expert. Call 907-714-8881 for additional details.



News Release: State, district, and school PEAKS results now online


State, district, and school PEAKS results now online

Soldotna, September 1, 2017— The first year results of PEAKS, the online assessment for students in grades three through ten in English language arts and mathematics are now available online. KPBSD students continue to outperform state median scale scores in both English language arts and math.

 “PEAKS is one part of the overall picture about how well our students and schools succeed,” said Sean Dusek, superintendent. “KPBSD focuses on continual improvement, creating lifelong learners, and believes the shift toward a greater emphasis on problem solving skills and critical thinking will make a significant, positive difference on all assessments that are implemented in our schools.”

Parents will receive individual student reports with English language arts and math results in mid-September. KPBSD will mail reports from the district office. It is important to remember:

  • Student achievement has not declined
  • What is expected of students, and measured, is different than in previous years
  • These first PEAKS results are setting a new baseline to help educators understand where students stand on their path to success
  • PEAKS results are only one data point. Multiple factors demonstrate student success and drive district decision making processes

 A September 1, 2017, Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) press release states, “Alaska educators have been involved in determining student performance criteria on the PEAKS assessment. A group of 35 Alaska educators gathered in April to decide how much students should know and be able to do at each achievement level. In early June, 84 Alaska educators gathered to determine the range of scores for each of the four achievement levels.”

As teachers and students gain more experience in the new and more rigorous standards, PEAKS scores will rise. This has been true for other states which adopt higher standards.

  • PEAKS is not a pass-fail test
  • PEAKS scores do not affect course grades, graduation, or grade retention, but students will receive focused support to improve
  • PEAKS, the AMP test and the SBAs are not comparable because they measure different standards, have different questions, and use different scoring
  • Fewer students meet the new standards than used to meet the old standards; the new standards focus on higher order thinking skills and problem solving




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Graduate Survey: How Did KPBSD Do?

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KPBSD Classes of 2010 to 2017, How Did KPBSD Do?

To improve schools, KPBSD seeks graduate input from the Classes of 2010 through 2017.

A brief survey is open through September. Please assist the KPBSD to reach 4,978 graduates.

The alumni survey will help KPBSD understand how well students were prepared to meet goals for college and a career. KPBSD will use feedback to ensure that the district’s academic and career-focused programs provide the best possible preparation for graduates.

Survey link: or

The graduate survey will be open through September 29, 2017.

This survey is being administered on behalf of the district by Hanover Research. Responses will remain anonymous, feedback is essential, and participation will improve the education experience for current and future students.

KPBSD partnered with Hanover Research to administer this survey. Hanover Research is an independent education research firm based in Washington, D.C., and is in no way affiliated with any other entity or organization. All responses will be kept completely anonymous, and no identifying information will be provided to the district. Similarly, grouped results will not be presented in a way that could potentially allow the identification of any specific respondents (e.g., faculty within a specific grade teaching a specific course).

Questions or difficulties with the survey? Contact Conor Kelly, Hanover Institute,


2017 Graduate Survey

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news release: New KPBSD bus routes, times, and practice run

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KPBSD welcomes Apple Bus Company

The first day of school is Tuesday, August 22, 2017*, and Apple Bus Company is in final preparations for the new school year.

Find new bus route and pickup and drop-off times

Apple Bus Company routes and times are now online and searchable via the Kenai Peninsula Bus infoFinder

Practice Run, Monday, August 21, 2017!

All Apple Bus Company buses will run their scheduled routes, in real time, stopping at all known stops, both in the morning and afternoon on Monday. Please do not think you have missed the first day of school, and your child has missed the bus! This is a full practice run, in real time, to finalize route timing and pickup and drop-off times.

Parent idea: On Monday, in conjunction with the Apple Bus bus practice, do your own practice run to determine how long it takes you to arrive at your bus stop, so on Tuesday, students are ready to step aboard a new year!

KPBSD bus questions?
Please call Apple Bus Company:

  • Central peninsula area (Kasilof, Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling): 907.262.4900
  • Southern peninsula area (Anchor Point, Ninilchik, Homer area): 907.235.0124
  • Seward area: 907.224.3571


Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Contact: Pegge Erkeneff, Communications Liaison,


*Variances – school begins:

  • August 15, 2017: Kachemak-Selo; Razdolna; Voznesenka schools
  • August 21, 2017: Nanwalek; Nikolaevsk; Port Graham schools
  • August 22, 2017: all other KPBSD schools

Creativity, assessment, and learning in small school classrooms

Creativity, Assessment, and Learning in a Small School Classrooms
August 3 – 4, 2017

Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula (PGKP) organized and partnered with KPBSD to present a two-day professional development training and conference at Land’s End Resort on August 3-4, 2017.

myron dueck

Due to travel costs and logistics, it is difficult for teachers in these rural schools to attend national conferences where progressive ideas and productive networking can advance instructional practice and provide relevant insights and strategies. Because PGKP is committed to providing quality instructional and academic support to the seven K-12 schools it serves, Jane Beck, Executive Director, began exploring the possibility of bringing educational leaders to Homer to speak directly with teachers, principals, and district administrators.

In July 2016, Myron Dueck, author of Grading Smarter Not Harder and Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate agreed to visit Alaska to share ideas for accurate assessment, feedback, and creativity in the classroom. Fifty-seven participants gathered for two days of insights and laughter for new ideas to engage students in learning. Teachers left feeling invigorated and inspired to develop rapport with students, tap into their passions, step out of the traditional learning in rows, and create classrooms where students are excited about their education and who receive valuable feedback on what they understand, know, and can do. Funding was provided by a US Dept. of Education Alaska Native Education grant and US Dept. of Education GEAR UP grant as well as a partnership with KPBSD.

Story contributed by Jane Beck

myron and venn dave burgess jane and dave

How to register for KPBSD Pre-Kindergarten Title I classes

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Contact: Pegge Erkeneff, 907.714.8888

News Release

How to register for KPBSD Pre-Kindergarten Title I classes

Soldotna, August 8, 2017Free pre-kindergarten classes at local schools for children who will be four years old by September 1, 2017, are open. To qualify, parents and guardians must contact their local area school, schedule a Pre-K assessment (dates below), and complete an application prior to the school screening appointment date.

Parent or guardian action steps

  1. Contact local attendance area school for times and testing locations. (See list of schools offering Pre-K sessions*)
  2. Complete a Pre-K Application—the school office in your attendance area will provide applications
  3. Return the application to your neighborhood school office during school hours
  4. Schedule your child’s assessment prior to the date for your neighborhood school screening. (Dates listed below)
  5. Children must be age 4 by September 1, 2017
  6. Title I KPBSD programs web link: Title 1 programs at KPBSD

* Screening dates for KPBSD Title I Elementary Schools offering Pre-K classes

Students qualify for Title I services based on academic need

  • Central Peninsula Area, August 22, 2017, in the Borough Assembly Chambers, Soldotna
    • Mountain View Elementary, 283-8600
    • Nikiski North Star Elementary, 776-2600
    • Redoubt Elementary, 260-4300
    • Soldotna Elementary, 260-5100
    • Sterling Elementary, 262-4944
    • Tustumena Elementary, 260-1345
  • Seward Elementary, 224-3356, August 23, 2017, at Seward Elementary
  • Homer, Anchor Point, and Ninilchik: August 24, 2017, at Paul Banks Elementary
    • Chapman Elementary, 235-8671
    • Ninilchik School, 567-3301
    • Paul Banks Elementary, 226-1801
    • Voznesenka School, 235-8549

Title I programs are required to utilize effective, research based instruction, and must also provide evidence that students receiving Title I support are showing academic growth.



This and all KPBSD media releases are online at this web page:
Suggest or contribute a story online link:
Please contact me with questions or connections to be made for your KPBSD district and school stories.

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Personalized Learning: facilitate plus solid trusting relationships

Mrs. Stephanie Cronin, Seward High School
Educator of all levels of high school mathematics and Principles of Engineering

My role in the classroom is as a facilitator of learning. This role has changed throughout my twenty years as a teacher. From the days of overheads, and sage on the stage in which the teacher passes along information, students sit passively taking notes, then regurgitate for the unit exam, education has come a long way. The shift began with a need for differentiation. Students come to us with vastly different experiences, background knowledge, and abilities.

In order to help every student succeed, we need to determine the starting point for every student, and provide the scaffolding necessary for growth. It is my goal to tailor instruction to meet the individual needs of every student who walks through my door.

The advancement of technology has helped me to meet this challenge. Through technology, students have more choice as to when, where, and even how they learn. They have access to videos that cover the lesson and can watch them as many times as necessary for understanding. There are programs available like ALEKS, and Khan Academy that can determine if a student has any gaps in their learning and provide instruction to fill in the “holes”. Technology also allows for the opportunity for students to advance beyond the expected course outcomes.

2017 Pi pencil holder 3D printer Seward HS

Personalization of learning also happens in my classroom through peer teaching. When students in my class show proficiency on a topic, they are frequently paired with students who are struggling. This allows the proficient student to reach mastery through teaching others, while at the same time bringing the struggling student to a greater level of understanding.

What has not changed in my twenty years in public education is the need for relationships. I believe that building solid, trusting relationships with my students is the key to teaching, inspiring, and learning. My students know that I care about them, and their lives beyond the classroom. I care about their success and their future. I encourage every one of my students to believe in themselves, shoot for the stars, and to have the grit and determination to reach their goals.

KPBSD Personalized Learning blog
KPBSD Personalized Learning FAQs
KPBSD Personalized Learning webpage

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Personalized Learning: increase student autonomy

Mrs. Meredith McCullough, Kenai Central High School
English Teacher

By the time I meet my students in high school, many believe their educational paths are set. This fixed view of learning creates unnecessary challenges and limitations that impact students for their entire lives, and is the reason I reevaluated my beliefs about teaching. The truth is this: my role as an educator is to teach students that they are capable of writing their own destinies and to help them discover tools which will benefit them long after they leave our school district. I turned to personalized learning and standards-based grading in my classroom because those strategies augmented my efficacy and gave my students greater control over their lives and learning, one of the key steps in becoming an adult.

Using standards-based grading in my classroom revealed a new world of student reflection and understanding. Students are capable of recognizing their own learning gaps and can therefore choose assignments which will either deepen their understanding of skills they possess, or allow them to self-remediate and practice those skills which require greater growth. As part of my grading system, students review their data and negotiate their grade in my class. To an outside observer, this looks like utter chaos. However, this process has allowed me to have honest conversations with students about their abilities, their goals, and how to continue to push their learning to the next level. It has resulted in more authentic learning. My students no longer care about what grade they received on an assignment; they are more concerned about what feedback they received. This shift in thinking is revolutionary, especially as students now regularly utilize that feedback in future iterations of their work.

Meredith McCullough PL Advanced French class and carnival masks KCHS

Perhaps the greatest benefit of personalized learning and standards-based grading is increased student autonomy.

My students are eager, capable, and hungry to earn respect by proving themselves to the world.

Channeling this passion and energy is a continual challenge, but drives me to become a more effective educator. I refuse to allow students’ full potential to go untapped. Offering them choice, offering them opportunities to fail forward and to improve on their skills, offering them unconditional support and the unshakeable conviction that they can rise to their highest selves is my gospel. Student autonomy is paramount if a district intends to produce adults who will think critically and empathetically.

After eight years of teaching, I can state without reservation that our students do, and will continue to, rise to any challenge held for them. Trust and respect for our students and their personal learning journey is the future of education and one I am proud to be part of thanks to the support of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

KPBSD Personalized Learning blog
KPBSD Personalized Learning FAQs
KPBSD Personalized Learning webpage

Meredith McCullough 2017 Kenai BP Teacher of Excellence (1)

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