KPBSD responds

To everyone who is concerned and outraged:

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Soldotna High School, and the Soldotna High School hockey program are disappointed and troubled by recent social media postings.

Today, more than ever, we each need to pause and think about what we tweet, post on social media, and say to one another.

Hate filled, racist, and disparaging remarks run counter to the mission of the KPBSD, our schools, and our athletic programs, and will not be tolerated.

We want you to know that the school district and Soldotna High School administration are addressing this. We welcome constructive discussion. Conversations about the appropriate use of social media will continue with our students and athletes.

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Posted in Perspectives by Pegge. No Comments

Spotlight your favorite KPBSD teacher in 2017 BP Teacher of Excellence program

Would it be fun to celebrate your favorite KPBSD teacher or education ally in a public forum? 

Go online by February 1 to complete your nomination for the 2017 BP Teachers of Excellence program. Five teachers from the Kenai Peninsula will be publically celebrated by BP, their school, family and friends, and throughout Alaska. Do it now!

BP_TOE_Print_Ad_2017 2

Winners will be notified by March 30, 2017.
If you nominate a winning teacher, you will be sent an invitation to attend the award ceremony. The list of winners will be announced on the website in May. Click to see past winners.

NEW! The Educational Allies Award celebrates a person who makes a positive impact in their school or community. Nominate anyone from a principal, to a school nurse or teaching assistant. Do you know an unsung hero? Share their story here.




BP recognizes teachers throughout the entire state of Alaska for their dedication to teaching and for inspiring students. Each Teacher of Excellence chosen in the KPBSD will receive a $500 gift card and an award certificate. In addition, $500 will also be awarded to the winner’s school or PTA group.

Online nomination due by February 1:

Resources to share the program: 

More information: 1-888-530-8962 or 907-564-4001, email:

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Words to lead by #inspire #motivate

LT quotes

Dear Soldotna High School Stars,

In December, KPBSD “Student Voice” leaders–many from your school–put forth an invite to schools to connect in a creative gift exchange celebrating our district. The KPBSD district office leadership team opted-in to play, and we drew Soldotna High School!

May these words of wisdom which guide and motivate your district leadership team also offer you inspiration.

Happy 2017 ~ may you shine this year! Cheers!




  • Hire good people, give them the tools they need to do their jobs, and get out of their way.
    Julie Cisco, planning and operations



  • “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically – to say no to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger yes burning inside.” –Stephen Covey
    Christine Ermold, EdD, human resources


  • Be strong when you are weak,
    Be brave when you are scared,
    Be humble when you are victorious.
    Alan Fields, principal representative


  • Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.
    Liz Hayes, finance


  • “Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.” –John C. Maxwell    
    Clayton Holland, pupil services


  • Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives. –attributed to William A. Foster
    Laurie Olson, finance


  • “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice. It is not something to be waited for, it’s something to be achieved.”  –William Jennings Bryant
    John Pothastelementary and secondary education


  • The path toward success weaves through triumph and setback. Learning equally from each guides the way.
    Eric Soderquist, information services

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Pointer: don’t aim a laser at an aircraft

January 6, 2017 – This post is on behalf of FAA Aviation Safety in Kenai, Alaska, in an educational outreach effort to students and the Kenai Peninsula communities.

Homer and Kenai report aircraft are being targeted by lasers.

When aimed at an aircraft from the ground, the powerful beam of light from a handheld laser can travel more than a mile and illuminate a cockpit, disorienting and temporarily blinding pilots. Those who have been subject to such attacks have described them as the equivalent of a camera flash going off in a pitch black car at night.

The Federal Aviation Administration along with local law enforcement investigates each report. If you have information of laser activity by someone you know, please take a minute to report them. Our goal is to keep the skies and pilots safe. It would be very sad if this resulted in an aircraft accident here on the Kenai Peninsula. Let’s work together as a community and stop this before anything happens.

The FBI announced a program aimed at deterring people from pointing lasers at aircraft—a felony punishable by five years in jail—and in some locations, reward those who come forward with information about individuals who engage in this dangerous activity.

Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a serious matter and a violation of federal law. It is important that people understand that this is a criminal act with potentially deadly repercussions.

The new initiative—which includes a campaign to educate the public about the dangers of “lasing”—will run for 60 days in 12 FBI field offices where laser strikes against aircraft are prevalent. A key part of the program is reward money: At some locations, the Bureau will offer up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of any individual who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft.

We hope that more public awareness about this issue will lower the instances of laser strikes. We also want to encourage people to come forward when they see someone committing this felony—one that could have terrible consequences for pilots and their passengers. As of December 2013, the FAA had documented at least 35 incidents where pilots required medical attention after a laser strike.

Interfering with the operation of an aircraft has long been a federal crime, but the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 specifically made it a federal felony to knowingly point the beam of a laser at an aircraft. The new law has lowered the threshold for prosecution, and the trend is on the rise for jail time in these cases. For example, a 23-year-old California man was sentenced to 21 months in prison for aiming a laser pointer at a Fresno County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. Court records showed that the man deliberately tracked and struck the aircraft.

If you have information about a lasing incident or see someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, call your local FBI office or dial 911.


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Posted in Community Partners by Pegge. No Comments

#KPBSD Rob Sparks is 2017 Alaska Studies Educator of the Year

The Alaska Humanities Forum and the Alaska State Council on the Arts announce
Mr. Rob Sparks, Soldotna Prep School
is the 2017 Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities,

Alaska Studies Educator of the Year!


“Teaching Alaska Studies is so relevant because we are such a young state that many of the issues from Statehood are still issues today…so you can study the present to understand the past better! The diversity of the state—geographically and culturally is fascinating for students to discover since many of us are not originally from Alaska.” –Rob Sparks, 2017 Alaska Studies Educator of the Year

rob-sparks-2013“This honor came as a complete surprise to me,” said Sparks. “I’ve been fortunate to have the support of administrators and colleagues who support some of the unique approaches we take studying Alaska in my classroom. Special thank you to Greg Zorbas for the collaborative work we do and the videoconferencing skills which have allowed me to connect my room to other Alaska classrooms. It is an honor to be recognized as a teacher who is trying to make a difference!”


“Mr. Robert Sparks has been an outstanding Alaska History teacher at Skyview High School and Soldotna Prep School for well over a decade,” said Curtis Schmidt, Soldotna Prep principal. “His influence on the lives of KPBSD students is immeasurable. In the past nine years I have worked with Mr. Sparks he has transformed his curriculum and teaching methods into a classroom without walls (CWOW) in order to increase student engagement, interest, and connection to Alaska and the many communities and cultures that exist within the state. He has been recognized locally, statewide, and nationally for his efforts (see his website) to incorporate video conferencing into his classes, which include Alaska History. He uses this, and other online technologies to connect his students with other students around the state and the globe to develop a better understanding of what it means to be “Alaskan.”

Sean Dusek, superintendent, said, “Mr. Sparks continues to be a great teacher and seems to get better with age. This is another well-deserved award and I truly appreciate his passion, commitment to continuous improvement and the positive difference he makes for kids every day.”


The Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities is an annual partnership between the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Alaska State Council on the Arts (ASCA), the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation, and the Office of the Governor to recognize and honor noteworthy contributions to the arts and humanities in Alaska. The awards recognize Alaskan artists, educators, historians, and institutions for their enduring impact on people and communities across our state.

The Governor’s Awards ceremony will be held in Juneau on January, 26, 2017 and is open to the public to attend – further details and tickets are available at

Contact Jann Mylet, Alaska Humanities Forum, 907-272-5302,

Sara Moore, AKSCA 2016 Advocate of the Year

Alaska School Counselor Association’s 2016 Advocate of the Year Award goes to KPBSD Sara Moore!


“Sara Moore has done a terrific job with our students for many years. Even in retirement she is making a positive difference with our students! Congratulations on the award!” – Sean Dusek, superintendent

In 1996, beginning in #KPBSD at Soldotna High School, Sara then served as a districtwide counselor specialist from 2012 to 2016 when she retired, then returned to be the transition lead school counselor for the 2016-2017 school year.

Sara Moore said, “Receiving statewide recognition for advocacy is a testament to both our district and to the colleagues I have worked with over the years. By recognizing the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model as the framework for counseling programs in our schools, the KPBSD leadership team supports the role school counselor’s play in student achievement in the areas of academic, career and personal and social development. The KPBSD school counseling program is viewed as a model for other districts and KPBSD school counselors have a long history of statewide leadership in multiple areas. According to ASCA, “Effective school counseling programs are a collaborative effort between the school counselor, parents and other educators to create an environment that promotes student achievement.” I am inspired by the tireless efforts our school counselors make every day to this end!”


“As school counselors, we best inspire students through a program that strives to reach every student,” said Moore. “By providing both direct classroom instruction and individualized guidance, we help students to set both academic, and career and life goals as well as provide them with the resources and education necessary to reach those goals. We encourage students to realize there are many paths to their goals despite the myriad of challenges and hurdles they might face along the way. In our attempts to grow student learning and achievement, school counselors make every effort to encourage student development, not only as individuals, but as contributing members of families and communities. One of the most exciting aspects of my work has been to observe the developmental changes in students as they acquire the skills and attitudes necessary to transition to the workplace, higher education and, or career and technical training upon completion of their high school experience. As I move into retirement, I know I will continue to encounter past students in the community and look forward to hearing of their journeys!”


John Pothast, director of elementary and secondary education said, “I have found Sara to be a tireless supporter of what we do in our school counseling programs. For years she served as one of our best, and go to counselors in the district, not only serving the students in her building, but also being a mentor to every other school counselor. For the past few years we have been fortunate to have Sara serve in the capacity as our Districtwide Counselor Specialist. In that capacity she has coordinated all of the professional development learning opportunities for our school counselors, including leading the school counselors group through the process of developing a more meaningful evaluation process that is tied to national school counselor standards. She has worked with staff, students and parents in postsecondary career plans and transitions and has developed, and helped school counselors implement, PLCP plans for all secondary students. Sara has officially retired from her roles as school counselor and counselor specialist, but like so many great educators, she just can’t seem to remain retired!”


The Advocate of the Year award recognizes a special individual or group for their assistance in furthering the mission of school counselors in Alaska. The Advocate of the Year may have developed or implemented a new program that affects the wellbeing of students/staff; they may have initiated improvement in counseling services; or they may have provided outstanding opportunities for the professional growth of counselors. Whether an administrator, community group, or other individual in or out of the school environment, the recipient of this award represents true advocacy for our profession.



2015 KPBSD College Fair


Hope student shadows Alaska Governor


“In November I spent the day with the Governor of Alaska, Bill Walker. I was able to do this as part of his program that donates a day of shadowing the Governor to nonprofits around Alaska. My specific opportunity was thanks to Hope local resident, Jim Skogstad, who attended The Basics auction where he won this auction item. When I first heard about it I had no idea what to expect, nonetheless, I was looking forward to spending the day in the life of Alaska’s highest ranking political figure. My day started promptly at 8:00 a.m., and went nonstop with only one break for lunch until 4:30 p.m. In this amount of time I was able to experience the busyness and diversity of just one of the countless days in the Governor’s life.” – Liam Bureau, Hope School


A freshman at Hope School, Liam did his background work on Governor Walker before heading into Anchorage to spend the day, and was ready to ask some questions of the Governor. He said he enjoyed learning that Governor Walker was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, and that he too attended a relative small school (Valdez). Liam has attended Hope School since he was in second grade.

Story contributed by Liam Bureau, and Patty Truesdell, Hope School teacher

Suggest or contribute a story online link:

#KPBSD James Harris is 2017 Alaska Teacher of Year

State Championship of Teaching!
2017 Alaska Teacher of the Year plus the Alternate Teacher of the Year are #KPBSD educators

Soldotna, December 6, 2016—Why is the the Alaska Commissioner of Education, Dr. Michael Johnson, visiting Soldotna High School? To surprise the 2017 Alaska Teacher of the Year during a crowded assembly of students and staff. And, more excellence: the 2017 Alternate Teacher of the Year is Stephanie Cronin, from KPBSD Seward High School!

“James Harris believes that the fundamental purpose of teaching literature is to connect students with the world,” Commissioner Johnson said. “That’s a very good definition of teaching in general. To his classroom, Mr. Harris brings his knowledge, passion, practical experience in writing, and empathy for students. He is an inspiring choice for Alaska Teacher of the Year.”

L-R: Soldotna High School Principal Tony Graham; James Harris, 2017 Alaska Teacher of the Year; KPBSD Superintendent Sean Dusek; Commissioner of Education, Dr. Michael Johnson


James Harris, Soldotna High School
2017 Alaska Teacher of the Year

“Yes, yes, yes!” will be the response Mr. Harris offers in 2017 when he is called upon to speak at education conferences and participate in various statewide education working groups. He will be a member of Commissioner Johnson’s teacher advisory group. The Alaska Teacher of the Year is the state’s nominee for national Teacher of the Year. Watch the James Harris learns he is 2017 Alaska Teacher of the Year Polycom video!

“I look at the profession of teaching as one of the most vital and important jobs in our country and I really hope to represent Alaska teachers and all they strive for!” – James Harris

A 12-year professional, James Harris has taught English at Soldotna High School for seven years. A published writer, editor, and college educator, he chairs the English department and professional development at his school, and coaches youth hockey. Harris says, “Through literature I hope to help my students empathize with the human story, open themselves up to the joys, sufferings, motivations, disappointments, and triumphs of others, and thus achieve a kinder and more complex understanding of themselves.”

Once students graduate, they start the stories of their own lives. Harris said he uses every skill, experience, talent, and tool at his command to give his students what they need to face their life choices armed with literacy, empathy, and a deeper sense of what they can contribute to our human community.

Mr. Harris holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from Western State College of Colorado, a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a master of arts degree in teaching from the University of Alaska Southeast.

“James is an outstanding educator who always puts kids first. He makes a lasting impression on all the students he comes into contact with, whether in the classroom or in the hallway. He inspires hope, ignites imagination, and instills a love of learning. He is very deserving of this honor and it is a pleasure to work with him each and every day.” – Tony Graham, Soldotna High School principal

KPBSD Superintendent Sean Dusek said, “This is the State Championship of teaching! We are excited and humbled to have two of our teachers recognized as the best in our state! Congratulations to Mrs. Stephanie Cronin from Seward High School for being chosen as the alternate this year. She is and always has been an outstanding teacher. As for our new 2017 Alaska Teacher of the year, Mr. James Harris, I am very pleased his great effort with our students has been recognized at the state level. He is an excellent representative of the teachers in our district! It is truly a great day in our district as both of these outstanding individuals have earned the highest honors in our state.”



Past Alaska  Teachers of the Year from KPBSD include:

  • 1999 – Daniel Walker, Seward Middle-High School
  • 1988 – Sammy Crawford, Soldotna High School
  • 1976 – Gary Woodburn, Cooper Landing School


Video: Commissioner Johnson surprises James Harris to announce 2017 Alaska Teacher of the Year!
Webpage: Alaska Teacher of the Year
Story: 2017 Alaska Alternate Teacher of the Year, Stephanie Cronin
October 22, 2016 Commissioner Johnson Announces Finalists for Teacher of the Year


Check our social media sites for photos and stories!

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Contact: Pegge Erkeneff, 907.714.8888
News Release

#KPBSD Stephanie Cronin is 2017 Alaska Alternate Teacher of Year

#KPBSD State Championship of Teaching!

Stephanie Cronin [Seward High School] is
2017 Alternate Alaska Teacher of the Year!

“The staff and students of Seward High, and entire community, could not be more proud of Ms. Cronin and her amazing accomplishment,” said Trevan Walker, Seward High School principal. “It’s gratifying to know that she is recognized, at the state level, for that which we have always known in Seward … that her Positive Math Attitude (PMA) has resulted in years of Seward High graduates who share her passion.”


Ms. Cronin will serve as Alaska Teacher of the Year if Mr. James Harris (2017 Alaska Teacher of the Year)  is named national Teacher of the Year. She has been teaching mathematics and engineering at Seward High School for 17 of her 19 years in the profession. A leader in our district and the community, she serves on committees for effective instruction, teacher evaluation, professional development, assessment, curriculum, and educational technology, the school site council, and the local Native Youth Olympics.

Reached by telephone, Cronin said, “I am humbled and honored to be selected as the 2017 Alaska Alternate Teacher of the Year. I’m proud to represent the amazing teachers of the State of Alaska.” A celebration assembly will take place at Seward High School on December 15, 2016.


Cronin says her greatest contribution to education is her impact on students, which is based on respectful, close relationships. Her passion is to show students the beauty and possibilities of mathematics. One student wrote that Ms. Cronin planted the seed that it’s okay to be excited about mathematics. “She increased my positive math attitude exponentially,” the student said, mathematically. She is a leader in Seward High School’s technology-heavy hybrid model, which offers students many ways to earn credits, videotaped lectures to make the most of class time, and online parallels to courses so students have some control over where and when they learn.

The 2017 Alaska Teacher of the Year is also from the #KPBSD, and Superintendent Sean Dusek said,
“This is the State Championship of teaching! We are excited and humbled to have two of our teachers recognized as the best in our state! Congratulations to Mrs. Stephanie Cronin for being the alternate this year. She is and always has been an outstanding teacher. As for our new 2017 Alaska Teacher of the year, Mr. James Harris, I am very pleased his great effort with our students has been recognized at the state level. He is an excellent representative of the teachers in our district! It is truly a great day in our district as both of these outstanding individuals have earned the highest honors in our state.”

Ms. Cronin holds a bachelor of science degree in economics from the University of Minnesota. She holds three degrees from the University of Alaska Anchorage: a bachelor of science degree in mathematics, a master of arts degree in teaching, and a master of arts degree in educational leadership.

Past Teachers of the Year from KPBSD include:

  • 1999 – Daniel Walker, Seward Middle-High School
  • 1988 – Sammy Crawford, Soldotna High School
  • 1976 – Gary Woodburn, Cooper Landing School

Webpage: Alaska Teacher of the Year
October 22, 2016 Commissioner Johnson Announces Finalists for Teacher of the Year
October 22, 2016 KPBSD story: two KPBSD educators named Teacher of the Year Finalists

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Contact: Pegge Erkeneff, 907.714.8888
News Release

Ms. Shanette Wik receives Golden Apple award


Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Golden Apple Award | December 5, 2016
Ms. Shanette Wik, Community Member

Ms. Shanette Wik, unit director of the Nikiski Boys and Girls Club, definitely goes “above and beyond” in her service to youth. In fact, say the students and staff of Nikiski North State Elementary, Ms. Wik may be described as having gone “above, beyond, and upside down to selflessly meet the needs of Nikiski North Star students.”

Ms. Wik has served as the unit director for the Nikiski clubhouse since 2003, and during that time the program has expanded and flourished. A typical day brings 100 students to the clubhouse and in the summer of 2016, they had the highest attendance ever recorded. “Shanette attracts many Nikiski North Star employees to work for the clubhouse which provides a tremendous continuity of service and instruction to our students,” said Margaret Gilman, Nikiski North Star Elementary principal.

Under her leadership, there is a tremendous sense of cooperation between Boys and Girls Club and Nikiski North Star. Boys and Girls Club provides support for Family Science Night, Love of Reading night, and this past summer they took on the additional task of being the summer caretakers for the Nikiski North Star garden. Ms. Wik also provides assistance with academics for students. She worked with the teachers and was instrumental in requesting funding for Reflex Math which is used consistently as a means of improving math facts computation at Nikiski North Star and Boys and Girls Club.

Shanette Wik is keenly aware of the needs in the Nikiski community. She can always be relied upon to help families who need assistance with food, and is always trying to find ways to assist students who might need help with basic needs. She implemented a fruit and vegetable snack program as well as a supper program at the clubhouse. This provides an opportunity for the kids to have a nourishing snack before they start their after school programming, and the dinner helps those students whose families may need more assistance.

Principal Gilman said: “We are so fortunate at Nikiski North Star Elementary to have a person who demonstrates such caring, kindness, respect and leadership skills. Her work with the Nikiski Boys and Girls Club will provide lasting benefit to our students.”

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education is proud to recognize Ms. Shanette Wik for her dedication to the students of the school district, past, present, and future.

Facebook page: Nikiski North Star Elementary
Facebook page: Boys & Girls Club of the Kenai Peninsula
Golden Apple recipients