Community partnerships: a habitat for learning

Tebughna School students bundled up to wade the frosty streams of Tyonek in exploration of baby salmon habitat. Just outside their school building, juvenile salmon flourish in small streams and ponds before heading out to the saltwater to hopefully later return as big, delicious table fare. In a partnership with Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula (PGKP) and the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (KBNERR), Tebughna students were coached to sample salmon and trout using electrofishing, and then sample creek bottoms with kick nets to see what those baby salmon might be eating.

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KBNERR researcher Jacob Argueta and KBNERR educator Dana Nelson visited with Tebughna’s K-12 students to provide the equipment and instruction. Following a morning in the field, collected samples were brought back to the school and classrooms were converted to wet labs. Students, staff, and community members were fascinated to discover that the gravel and leaf litter of the creek bottom teemed with thousands of invertebrates- from larval flies to earth worms. Using special magnifying glasses, the captivated students learned how to use dichotomous keys to identify the various organisms collected from the creek a stone’s throw from their classroom.

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As part of a research project exploring groundwater recharge, KBNERR is engaging villages in KPBSD to identify how communities value groundwater. Often times, the conversation quickly leads to healthy salmon habitat. Over the course of KBNERR’s two-day visit there were lively discussions regarding how groundwater cycles valuable nutrients into salmon streams.

In addition to introducing the students to research methods and a great field trip, the visit from KBNERR also served as a follow-up to a trip four Tebughna High School students made to Homer. Sharon Jones, Reka Smoke, Alicia Smoke, and Dulcinea Moon had the opportunity to join KBNERR to sample salmon habitat and peatlands near Stariski Creek just north of Anchor Point. Back at Tyonek, the four students presented on their experience and helped lead the KBNERR team in the field with Tebughna’s younger students.

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A big thanks is warranted for the KBNERR staff, Native Village of Tyonek, and Tebughna’s staff for coordinating such a high-quality fieldtrip experience delivered to Tebughna School. Fortunately, KBNERR and Tebughna’s relationship will not end here. Future visits and engagement is in the works. Whether an interest in natural resource management or a more resilient commercial fisherman, PGKP’s partnership with KBNERR is providing the stepping-stones from classroom student to community provider.

Thank you to Kenny Daher, Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula, for contributing this story!

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KPBSD Inspiration: Jeffrey Dolifka, Class Of 2006

“Take risks and don’t be afraid of failure,” says attorney Jeffrey Dolifka, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Class of 2006, Skyview High School. “I wish I had figured that out a lot earlier in my life.”

Jeffrey Dolifka Skyview C06

He’s been in the courtroom since he was five, when he’d accompany his father, and sit beneath a table, look at the judge, and play. Now he is an attorney with his dad at Dolifka & Associates, P.C., in Soldotna, Alaska, a practice that includes Estate Planning, Probate, Adoptions, Guardianships, and Real Estate Law. Jeffrey Dolifka, who attended Soldotna Middle School and Skyview High School (Class of 2006) knew in first grade he wanted to be an attorney. As a young child, he would travel to work with his Dad to court in Kenai, Seldovia, and Homer. Jeffrey says, “My father, Dale Dolifka, was the most influential person on my career path. He has been an attorney in our community for over 40 years. He is a great example for me as an attorney and a father, and always prioritized giving back to the community and trying to help those in need.”

Three KPBSD teachers impacted his life, along with Winston Churchill. Dolifka says:

 

  • Rob Sparks, my history and government teacher. After seven year of college, I still consider him the most influential educator in my life. Mr. Sparks’s designed his classes to challenge students to think outside the box and to challenge the status quo. I learned over and over that if there is an issue or problem that you believe needs changed, it is YOUR job to change it. I spent many classes debating Mr. Sparks. I never imagined it was preparing me for the courtroom and life.
  • Dave Schmidt, my chemistry and biology teacher. Mr. Schmidt would never give up on a student. It did not matter if the student was the valedictorian or about to drop out of high school, he cared about every student and helped them succeed, staying hours after school every day. He helped me through many rough days in high school and was a great role model.
  • Renee Merkes, my math teacher. I would not have graduated from high school without Mrs. Merkes. Math was my worst subject and Mrs. Merkes would stay after school for hours each day and help me with my math homework. She refused to give up on me and I cannot thank her enough.

 

Jeff Dolifka profile story (7) 

“Take risks and don’t be afraid of failure.”

I was always so afraid of failing and embarrassing myself that I missed a lot of opportunities. The fear of failure causes many people to pass up on opportunities in their life and those missed opportunities can quickly turn into regrets. I wish I had figured that out a lot earlier in my life. I was deathly afraid of public speaking which is tough if you want to be an attorney. A photo of Winston Churchill and his wise counsel kept me going all through college and helped me push through my fear and barriers. Churchill said, ‘Success is the ability to move from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.’ That insight helped me to move out of state for school, and kept me going at Western Washing University for one year before transferring to Boise State University where I graduated in 2010 with a Degree of Bachelors of Arts (Major in Political Science, Minor in History). Moreover, especially in my studies at the University of Colorado Law School (2013), and anticipating taking the Bar exam—what if I failed? I did pass the Alaska Bar in October of 2013!

When life gets hard, and it will, what will you do?
“Sports taught me lessons to go through horrible times, and prepared me for life lessons. I love to coach basketball, and hope to coach at Skyview Middle School sometime in the next year or two as soon as there is an opening!”

Fishing
I love fishing. My Mom is an Alaska Native, and starting about four years old, I would go to Ninikchik to fish with my Grandma who instilled a love of fishing in me. Now, during the summer months, you will likely find me somewhere on the river.

Service and volunteering

One of my primary goals is to help children, specifically those who have grown up in tough environments. My parents taught me the value of service, I am involved with several organizations, including the Mae Ciechanski Scholarship Fund*, Kenai River Special Management Area Board, Boys and Girl Club, and I co-chair an advisory committee that is attempting to build a sport complex with an indoor turf field and track.

*High school students, apply for the Mae Ciechanski Scholarship Fund—especially for the trade and vocational tech scholarships. We have a lot of scholarships to award this year!

Soldotna Sports Complex

No stranger to a playing field or basketball court, a big project close to my heart with an important timeline on December 12, is to build a new sports complex in Soldotna. I have been working on the sports complex expansion for over three years. The project has recently taken a step forward to become a reality:

The Soldotna City Council will vote on several ordinances related to the new sports complex at a Soldotna City Council Meeting on December 12, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. The vote will determine whether the City of Soldotna residents will get to vote on the project in early March.

Wherever you live on the Peninsula, if you believe a sports complex would be a beneficial addition to our community, please show up to the meeting and show your support.

When I took the risk to go out of state to college, I never changed my Alaska residency. I knew I wanted to return to this community, where I will raise my family, and give back as best I can.

KPBSD celebrates Mr. Dolifka who is proof positive of the KPBSD mission to empower all learners to positively shape their futures.

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Links:

Do you have a story tip about a KPBSD graduate to profile in our Wednesday Inspiration? Kindly email Pegge Erkeneff at communications@KPBSD.org.

 

Special Education Teacher David Justice awarded Golden Apple

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Golden Apple Award | December 3, 2018
Mr. David Justice,
Soldotna High School Special Education teacher

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Golden Apple nominator Greg Landeis wrote, “In the spring of 2018, I witnessed my son graduate from Soldotna High School. You might think this is a great feat since thousands of kids graduate from high school each spring. However, my son was diagnosed with severe ADHD and Tourette syndrome at a very young age. He had an IEP throughout school. My wife Esther and I are older parents. She is a registered nurse and during a 25 year long career has cared for and saved numerous lives, and continues to administer care and compassion to her patients. I was a decorated veteran in the United States Airforce, and served my community for 20 years as a police officer before receiving a catastrophic injury while in the performance of my duties that left me permanently disabled. We are no strangers to the sacrifices one makes to help community and fellow man. This is a story of Soldotna High School educator David Justice, who went beyond what is expected or required to help directly save a life.

When he became a freshman, my son suddenly started to change. Grades went down, his demeanor and attitude was sullen. This peaked when his mother walked into his room and found him with a loaded handgun, contemplating ending his life. To say his mother, a registered nurse and no stranger to seeing tragedy, and his father who had been dispatched to hundreds of suicides, were devastated and terrified would be misrepresenting the full magnitude of the situation. Our lives turned upside down. Our son was by our side 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for nearly a year and a half. We constantly monitored his mental health, and worried he would find a way to harm himself. He was academically at a standstill, and his mental health was to a point where he was not capable of being in a school environment. We tried home schooling but he continued to digress, and both of us were beyond worried about his future.

During the summer between his freshman and sophomore year, he continued to struggle mentally and with his depression. His mother and I decided to pursue further testing. In the fall, with medication and some counseling, he was stable enough to go back to school. We met Mr. Justice when we worked with the school experts for his IEP status. Notice I refer to him as Mr. Justice—I do this out of respect and admiration. Little did we know he would not only save my son from further harming himself, but would relentlessly continue to speak into his life and eventually get him to a point where he could graduate with the rest of his class.

So many times, Mr. Justice brought my son out of his depression, and dark place—a place my son describes as being overwhelmed with feeling unworthy and believing ending his life was an option. Mr. Justice built him up, and through creative and innovative techniques managed to motivate and give him the ability to realize his self-worth. Eventually he was diagnosed with Acute Anxiety Disorder and clinical depression, along with Tourette’s and ADHD.

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The ability of Mr. Justice to speak into, mentor, and guide my son’s life is not the entirety of this story. We were devastated by this tragedy in our child’s life, and are interactive with all of our three children. Not only was this the most terrifying thing we had been through, we often felt very helpless and distraught, and leaned on one another for support, but sometimes it was not enough. Mr. Justice gave us great comfort through this whole process. Often times he would hear our despair and offer counsel, guidance, and reassurance. I do not think my son, Esther, and I are the only ones Mr. Justice helped. My son told me many stories of kids that Mr. Justice worked with and cared for equally as he did my son.

Mr. Justice brought our son out of a world of torment, torture and self-loathing, got him on track, got him to push to graduate with his class and as if that was not enough, propelled him towards continuing his education through Job Core. I am no stranger to witnessing wonderful, selfless, giving human beings going the extra step to help someone, but Mr. Justice is at the very top of the list. This man restored my faith in the education system. His selfless and over the top dedication, in a very tough job should be commended. I will forever be in his debt for what he did for my son.”

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education is proud to recognize Mr. David Justice for his dedication to the students of the school district, past, present, and future.

 

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Two-Hour Delay start: Monday, December 3, 2018

►ALERT UPDATE 7:00 AM: All KPBSD schools will open with a TWO HOUR DELAY START* on MONDAY, December 3, 2018, due to weather conditions throughout the Peninsula.

Parents and guardians, if you decide, based on conditions near you to keep your child at home, kindly call your school to let them know. Absences will be excused. Reports are that some side roads are not yet sanded and may be icy—be safe and exercise caution.

►One busing exception: Special education buses will contact parents directly if there is a concern in their ability to safely navigate driveways or side roads. All schools will be open with a two-hour delay start.

*A two hour delay means that buses run two hours later than normal, school begins two hours later than normal, and staff arrives at school two hours later than normal. The school day ends at the normal time.

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►ALERT: TWO HOUR DELAY START* for ALL Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools on MONDAY, December 3, 2018, due to weather conditions throughout the Peninsula.

If weather and road conditions warrant a full closure, an announcement will be made by 7:00 AM.

*A two hour delay means that buses run two hours later than normal, school begins two hours later than normal, and staff arrives at school two hours later than normal.

Parents and guardians, if you decide, based on conditions near you to keep your child at home, kindly call your school to let them know. Absences will be excused.

►INFORMATION #6 #AlaskaEarthquake

►INFORMATION #6: Friday, 11/30/18, 4:50 PM
Thank you to everyone who worked closely in and with KPBSD schools today after the earthquake this morning, the Tsunami warning, evacuations, aftershocks, and damage assessments. You make a difference!
 
KPBSD anticipates Kenai Peninsula schools will open on a normal schedule Monday, December 3, 2018. If anything changes over the weekend, KPBSD will announce this through usual communication channels: website, social media, email to staff, Mobile App, and possible a districtwide alert via SMS, email, and phone.
 
Superintendent Dusek said, “The events of today demonstrated the high level of professionalism and competence our staff possesses in regards to responding to a critical incident. We train regularly to be ready for these types of situations and we responded well today. I greatly appreciate our staff’s efforts and we will learn from today so that our responses in the future will be even better. I look forward to school on Monday as we continue to work with our students to provide the safest learning environment possible across this district.”
 
Kindly take care of yourself and your neighbors.
 
TIP: The KPBSD Mobile App is free for users and available for immediate download on iPhone and Android devices. You can find Kenai Peninsula Borough SD in the app

Links:

Thank you earthquake day

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Sources of Strength #SuicidePrevention

Nine KPBSD schools—Homer Flex School, Kenai Alternative School, Kenai Central High School, River City Academy, Seward High School, Seward Middle School, Skyview Middle School, Soldotna High School, Soldotna Prep School—are developing peer leaders through Sources of Strength (SOS) thanks to funding from the Alaska Community Foundation, GCI suicide prevention grant, and Alaska Children’s’ Trust!

This fall, students and adults from Skyview Middle School, River City Academy, Soldotna Prep, Kenai Alternative High, and Kenai Central High School participated in Sources of Strength training October 29-31, 2018, creating videos (Kenai What are you grateful for? and RCA, SMS, and Soldotna Prep What are you thankful for?), social media and school campaigns.

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Sources of Strength is one of KPBSD’s suicide prevention programs positioning students to become peer-leaders of suicide prevention in their schools and community.
Unlike other evidence-based suicide prevention programs, Sources of Strength (SOS) focuses on positive protective factors in student lives, such as trusted adults and mentors, healthy activities, and positive friends. These strengths aid students to develop help-seeking behaviors, coping mechanisms, and resilience that can assist overcoming difficulty and adversity in their lives. Students, with support from their adult leaders, design campaigns to promote wellness in their school.

Helpful Links

Sources of Strength is a best practice youth suicide prevention project designed to harness the power of peer social networks to change unhealthy norms and culture, ultimately preventing suicide, bullying, and substance abuse.

RCA, SoPrep, Skyview

KCHS and Kenai Alt

SOS Seward High school (4)

Seward’s Sources of Strength is a diverse group of students and adults that recognize life has difficulties, and that we will each go through good times and tough times. Their mission is to ensure that during the rough times no one gets so overwhelmed or hopeless that they want to give up. The Seward High November school assembly promoted understanding, fun, and launched their Instagram next social media campaign. Connect with Seward High on Instagram at @sewardsos.

Sources of Strength frisbee KPBSD

KPBSD Wednesday Inspiration: Megan Mazurek, #Classof2005

Anchor Desk

“There’s something satisfying with meeting daily deadlines and starting fresh the next day.”

–Ms. Megan Mazurek, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District graduate, Class of 2005, Nikiski Middle-High School, and KTVA 11 News Anchor in Anchorage, Alaska.

Only 150 miles by road, and 20 minutes by plane from where she attended school at Nikiski North Star Elementary and Nikiski Middle-High School, Megan Mazurek is now a familiar face in households bringing us the evening news at 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 PM Monday through Friday, on the CBS Affiliate news station in Anchorage. Mazurek is proud to share stories about people making a difference and challenging news coverage. She explains, “Every day is different. It’s filled with new stories, new people and new challenging coverage. I get to meet with new people who are helping make a difference in our community. At the end of every day I have proof of all the hard work our team has put together in a broadcast.”

As a young girl, she was active in dance, which became a building block into her now very public role as a television news anchor with a camera trained on her to broadcast body language and every word she speaks to thousands of viewers. A graduate of University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and minor in Art History, Megan is only a few classes away from completing her Master in Business Administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage. The UAA College of Business and Public Policy provides learners with perspectives and skills needed to assume significant leadership and managerial roles.

Advice to her younger self or a K-12 student from a 2018 perspective:

“What you may be interested in now will not necessarily be what you make into a career later; however it will teach you valuable lessons in other ways! I was very involved in dance growing up, and though I didn’t go on to teach, I used what I learned about being in front of an audience as a building block to working in front of a camera.”

Service and care for others:

Megan does not stop at only reporting about people making a difference in our communities, she is involved. When asked what issue or organization grabs her heart of care and concern, she replies,

“I’m actively involved with the Abused Women’s Aid In Crisis Shelter (AWAIC) in Anchorage. It provides a safe place for women, children and sometimes men when they are in a dangerous situation or may not have anywhere else to go. This year I did my first Sleep Out with the Covenant House of Alaska, which offers a safe place and resources for homeless and trafficked youth. I helped to raise $1 million, a record amount for the annual Sleep Out Champion event!”

Connect with Megan Mazurek every evening on KTVA, or through social media

Jacob Doth, one of her teachers said, “Dance was her life in high school. Her talent matched her determination and you can see that her hard working, never give up attitude is continuing to aid in her blessed life!”

KPBSD celebrates Ms. Mazurek who is proof positive of the KPBSD mission to empower all learners to positively shape their futures.

Do you have a story tip about a KPBSD graduate to profile in our Wednesday Inspiration? Kindly email Pegge Erkeneff at communications@KPBSD.org.

Highland Games Guest Salmon

Highland Games Guest Salmon, KTVA

 

Thunderbird flight

News story, Thunderbird flight

 

Flying with the Thunderbirds

Flying with the Thunderbirds, Oh the places we’ll go! KTVA story

SCHOOL PICTURE

 

DANCE PICTURE

halibut fishing

KPBSD Winter Music Program Lineup

2018 winter concerts

 Celebrate what’s right in the world, and treat yourself – attend a music concert or school play!

Programs are at school location unless otherwise noted. Some schools have more than one program, and so the location may vary by date.

  • Aurora Borealis Charter School – December 4, 6:00 p.m., Christmas Concert, KCHS Auditorium
  • Chapman School – December 11, 7:00 p.m., Winter Concert
  • Cooper Landing School – December 14, 5:30 p.m., Christmas Program with Potluck Dinner
  • Homer High School – December 17, 7:00 pm, Winter Concert, Mariner Theater; December 19, 7:00 pm, Candlelight Carols & Desserts, Mariner Theater
  • Homer Middle School – December 13, 7:00 p.m, Winter Concert, Homer High Mariner Theater
  • Hope School – December 8, 5:00 p.m., Holiday Community Carnival; December 19, 6:00 p.m, Student Concert
  • K-Beach Elementary School – December 11, 6:30 p.m., K-2 Christmas Concert, Soldotna High Auditorium; December 18, 6:30 p.m., Winter Band Concert, K-Beach Gym
  • Kaleidoscope School of Arts & Science Charter School – December 13, 6:00 p.m., Winter Concert, Kenai Central High School; December 18, 6:00 p.m., Band Concert 4-5 Grade, Kaleidoscope Gym
  • Kenai Central High School – December 11, 7:00 p.m., Dessert Auction and Holiday Concert featuring the KMS Concert & Intermediate Band, KCHS Concert & Jazz Band, KCHS Auditorium; December 16, 3:00 p.m., Holiday Choir Concert, KCHS Auditorium
  • Kenai Middle School – December 6, 7:00 p.m., Winter Choir Concert, KCHS Auditorium; December 11, 7:00 p.m., Dessert Auction and Holiday Concert featuring the KMS Concert & Intermediate Band, KCHS Concert & Jazz Band, KCHS Auditorium
  • McNeil Canyon Elementary School – December 6, 6:30 p.m., Winter Concert, McNeil Canyon Gym
  • Moose Pass schoolDecember 7, 7:00 p.m., Music Program
  • Mountain View Elementary School – December 10, 6:00 p.m., Band Concert, Gym; December 17, 6:00 p.m., Winter Concert Grades 1-3, KCHS Auditorium
  • Nanwalek School – January 3, 1:00 p.m., Nanwalek Christmas Program
  • Nikiski Middle-High School – December 4, 7:00 p.m., Auditorium
  • Nikiski North Star Elementary School – December 6, 6:00 p.m., Kindergarten Winter Concert, NNS Gym; December 6, 6:45 p.m., Concert and Modern Band Winter Concert, NNS Gym; December 11, 6:00 p.m., Christmas Concert Grades 1-2, NMHS Auditorium
  • Paul Banks Elementary School – December 11, 12:30 p.m., Winter Program, Homer High Mariner Theatre
  • Port Graham School – December 21, 2:00 p.m., Port Graham Christmas Caroling Program
  • Redoubt Elementary School – December 6, 6:00 p.m., Winter Concert Grades 1-2-3, Soldotna High Auditorium; December 11, 6:00 p.m., Winter Band Concert, Redoubt Gym
  • Seward Elementary School – December 18, 7 p.m., Swing Holiday Program
  • Seward High School – January 14, 6:30 p.m., Music Collective Winter Concert
  • Skyview Middle School – December 13, 7:00 p.m., Winter Concert Band, Choir, Drumline
  • Soldotna Elementary School – December 4, 6:30 p.m., Christmas Concert, Soldotna High Audtitorium; December 18, 6:00 p.m., Band & Choir Concert (SOEL and SMCS), Soldotna Elementary Gym
  • Soldotna High School – December 18, 7:00 p.m., Band, CHoir, Jazz, Swing Choir, Soldotna High Auditorium
  • Soldotna Montessori Charter School – December 3, 6:30 p.m., Winter Concert Grades K-6, Soldotna High Auditorium; December 18, 6:00 p.m., Band & Choir Concert (SOEL and SMCS), Soldotna Elementary Gym
  • Sterling Elementary School – December 6, 6:00 p.m., Winter Concert Grades K-3; December 11, 6:00 p.m., Winter Concert Grades 4-6 and band
  • Susan B. English School – December 13, 6:00 p.m., Winter Concert Grades K-12
  • Tebughna School – December 18, 2:00 p.m., Holiday Program
  • West Homer Elementary School – December 4, 12:30 p.m., Christmas Program, Homer High Mariner Theater

Printable flyer with music lineup

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Ms. Natali Jones, 2018 Alaska Counselor of the Year!

The 2018 Alaska School Counselor of the Year is Ms. Natali Jones, itinerant counselor serving Chapman School Anchor Point AlaskaHomer Flex High SchoolNanwalek SchoolNikolaevsk SchoolPort Graham School, and Susan B. English School in Seldovia!

“The communities that I serve are incredibly diverse. Weekly, I work with Alaska Native villages, a Russian Orthodox village, a township, and an alternative school. I fly to work three days a week and drive the other two. As different as these places are they have many things in common: incredible students, dedicated staff, cultural pride, and caring communities. It can be challenging to serve a school one day a week when there is need for a full time counselor at each site, but it is a gift to be able to work where I do, and for that, I am grateful.”
–Natali Jones, KPBSD itinerant counselor, 2018 Alaska School Counselor of the Year

This makes it worthwhile and meaningful…

The most moving part of my work is when a student seeks out their own wellness and post-secondary success. Whether it is sharing a safety concern, or their dream to become the first person in their family to graduate it takes bravery to speak your truth. I know I am in the right place when I hold the belief that anything is possible.

 Natali Jones AK 2018 Counselor of the Year

“Ms. Jones is an excellent example of how wonderful our counselors are in KPBSD. She works hard to support the whole student and is heavily invested in all of her student’s success. This is a well-deserved award and I’m very proud of Natali and all she does for our students!” –Sean Dusek, KPBSD Superintendent of Schools

Help people hear their story and support ambitions

I became a school counselor in August 2011. My parents, who spent a great deal of their careers as teachers and passionate about working with youth said they were not surprised by my choice—in fact they had been wondering when it was going to happen. I was a peer counselor in middle school. I later pursued careers in journalism, film, and Human Resources. These all had a common thread: helping people tell their stories and supporting their ambitions. School counseling was a very natural next step.

Gratitude

This honor evokes a great deal of gratitude, first and foremost to the wonderful students and communities I serve. I have learned such an incredible amount about generosity, dedication, and cultural values. Next to each of those that support my role as school counselor including the incredible teams that make up our schools and a web of support for our students. This includes all employees classified and certified. Without each of these people, I would not be able to do my work.

Influence

School counselors provide supports with academic, career and social-emotional development. I am most impacted by those who support my role and those in our district that understand the challenges of small schools including equity of resources.

This is best!

Hands down working with students is the favorite part of my day. As an itinerant, it sometimes looks a little different. It may be online e-mail correspondence, but the best is sitting with a student and supporting their success.

Advocate

I could not do my work without the support and collaboration of my family, friends, colleagues, students, and communities. Truly wrap around services bolster our youth. Each of my schools has a level of need that could justify a full time school counselor. My hope is that school counselor professionals be viewed as an intricate part of student success and safety. I advocate and wish for a school counselor in each school in our district, state, and nation because together we can create change.

Lifelong Learner

I grew up outside of Eugene, Oregon, in the country and went to Harrisburg High School, then graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Spanish (double major) from the University of Oregon. I received Masters of Education in School Counseling from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Ms. Natali’s Counselor Corner: http://believeyoucan.kpbsd.org

“Natali is a tireless advocate for all students, but she also provides a necessary voice for the needs of those attending small schools. She opens doors for our students and helps them find post-secondary fulfillment. Ever the professional, Natali also works to inform the practice of her colleagues and better the profession as a whole.”  –Principal Chris Brown, Homer Flex High School

“Natali is a champion for opportunities that benefit the students she serves, and her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Her accolades are well deserved.” –Principal Conrad Woodhead, Chapman School

KPBSD schools

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Unlock Potential. Find Your Password! #SPAW2018

Unlock Potential. Find Your Password!

It is School Psychology Awareness Week, and the goal is to illuminate how identifying strength and action passwords can direct students to take steps toward positive change.

Passwords such as imagine, encourage, learn, connect, and contribute can push us forward to help students develop critical academic and social-emotional skills. These words can launch conversations about how to help students and staff unlock resources, reach potential, and develop proactive and preventive skills to thrive in school and in life.

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Superintendent Sean Dusek said, “I really appreciate the efforts of our school psychologists and their dedication to our students and schools! If you get a chance this week, please help me in thanking our school psychologists for their work!”

The eleven KPBSD school psychologists serve all of our schools in different ways depending on their needs. From teaching health lessons dealing with social and emotional learning, to doing lunch groups, and providing input at the district level, we strive to unlock potential. We contribute to teams of people to support students with disabilities as well as school teams working to intervene early to prevent problems. We provide risk assessments for students struggling, as well as responding when crisis does hit our schools. We have a wide variety of expertise and can always find ways to support our students, teachers, and staff!

Clayton Holland, Director of Pupil Services said, “School psychologists are known for their role with special education evaluations, but our KPBSD School Psychologists do so much more than that. They do a tremendous amount of work to keep our students safe. Our school psychologist were key to the district development and implementation of our suicide and self-injurious behavior assessments. They help lead school responses to a tragedy or crisis that impacts our staff and students, and are leaders in our school-wide efforts with Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and with the implementation of behavior and academic intervention process. The KPBSD school psychologists are leaders in their field and our recognized as such in the state of Alaska. We are proud to have the Alaska School Psychologist of the Year, Dr. Terese Kashi, in our ranks.”

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KPSBD Dr. Therese Kashi, Alaska School Psychologist of the Year