KPBSD 2019 Graduate Inspiration Profiles

“The mission of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is to empower all learners to positively shape their futures.”

FY19 Graduate Profiles 2019 First Q recap

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District graduates are creative problem-solvers, neighbors, business owners, teachers, parents, volunteers, innovators, doctors, and more. Your school district is a positive investment and validates its vision to, “inspire all learners to pursue their dreams in a rigorous, relevant and responsive environment.”

Every week KPBSD features a graduate, if you need some inspiration, click on one of the  2019 profiles you may have missed! (Click on the hyperlinked name to read the story.)

Scott Davis
Kenai Central High School, Class of 1977

Paul Ostrander
Soldotna High School, Class of 1986

Dean Carignan
Kenai Central High School, Class of 1987

Matthew Pyhala, DC
Homer High School, Class of 1993

Carlyn Nichols
Seward High School, Class of 1997

Kersten Gomez
Soldotna High School, Class of 1998

Katie Koester
Homer High School, Class of 1998

Stephanie Queen
Kenai Central High, Class of 2000

Kristin Bates
Seward High School, Class of 2004

Megan Mazurek
Nikiski Middle-High School, Class of 2005

Jeffrey Dolifka
Skyview High School, Class of 2006

Joel Isaak
Skyview High School, Class of 2007

Claire Neaton
Homer High School, Class of 2008

Emma Laukitis
Homer High School, Class of 2009

Nianiella Dorvall
Nikoleavsk School, Class of 2014

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

 

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Seward area schools: community meeting and survey

KPBSD_2017-2022_StrategicPlan_SealSeward High School Principal, Trevan Walker, Seward Middle School Principal, Jenny Martin, William H. Seward Elementary School Principal, Alan Haskins, district administration, and the school board request your thoughts and input about potentially consolidating Seward Middle School (6-8) into Seward High School (9-12), and William H. Seward Elementary (6th). No decisions have been made, and your thoughts are valuable.

Exploring the difficult concept of school consolidations or closures is a challenging task. However, with fiscal uncertainty at the state and borough levels, it is an act of due diligence to have the conversations in order to learn community concerns and thoughts, and share with families and staff. In that light, KPBSD is being proactive to explore a number of possibilities to meet potentially significant funding cuts in all areas of our district, including southern, central, and eastern peninsula schools.

  • The high school has the capacity to accommodate the middle school students at this time, and this consolidation simplifies transportation issues.
  • Closing the school would offer an annual savings of approximately $409,000 in operating costs

 

Seward area schools community meeting:
April 11, 2019, 6:30 p.m.

A community meeting for families, students, and staff will be April 11, 2019, at 6:30 PM, in the William H. Seward Elementary School. The meeting will be hosted by the school principals and Dr. Christine Ermold, KPBSD Director of Human Resources and Professional Development.

Seward Survey: Parent, student, and staff survey is open April 9 – 16, 2019 https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/27PHGPS

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Timing of any potential school consolidations in the Seward or Homer areas is unknown, and at this time, school closures or consolidations would be dependent upon funding from the state in FY20 and beyond. It is unlikely that school closures would occur in the Seward or Homer area as fast as the 2019-2020 school year, unless the Governor’s proposed budget stands.

Link: School consolidation discussions webpage and report

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Homer High and Homer Middle schools: community meeting and survey

KPBSD_2017-2022_StrategicPlan_SealHomer High School Principal Doug Waclawski, Homer Middle School Principal Kari Dendurent, district administration, and the school board request your thoughts and input about potentially consolidating Homer Middle School and Homer High School. No decisions have been made, and your thoughts are valuable.

Exploring the difficult concept of school consolidations or closures is a challenging task. However, with fiscal uncertainty at the state and borough levels, it is an act of due diligence to have the conversations in order to learn community concerns and thoughts, and share with families and staff. In that light, KPBSD is being proactive to explore a number of possibilities to meet potentially significant funding cuts in all areas of our district, including southern, central, and eastern peninsula schools.

  • The high school has the capacity to accommodate the middle school students at this time, and this consolidation simplifies transportation issues
  • Closing the school would offer annual savings of approximately $459,000 in operating costs, and avoid deferred maintenance costs of approximately $10,000,000

 

Homer High School and Homer Middle School community meeting: April 15, 2019, 6:00 p.m.

A community meeting for families, students, and staff will be April 15, 2019, 6:00 p.m., Homer High School Commons. The meeting will be hosted by the school principals and Mr. John Pothast, KPBSD Director of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Homer Survey: Parent, student, and staff survey is open April 9 – 16, 2019

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2TJG85C

Homer 2019-04 QR_code_2TJG85C

Timing of any potential school consolidations in the Seward or Homer areas is unknown, and at this time, school closures or consolidations would be dependent upon funding from the state in FY20 and beyond. It is unlikely that school closures would occur in the Seward or Homer area as fast as the 2019-2020 school year, unless the Governor’s proposed budget stands.

Link: School consolidation discussions webpage and report

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Superintendent of Schools leadership position

News Release:
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District:
Superintendent of Schools leadership position

Soldotna, April 5, 2019—On April 5, 2019, after five hours of executive session, Board of Education Vice-President Zen Kelly moved to authorize President Vadla to offer the position of interim superintendent of schools and negotiate a contract with assistant superintendent of instruction, Mr. John O’Brien. Clerk Dan Castimore seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

President Vadla said,


“On behalf of the Board, I extend a sincere thank you to the candidates, and to the individuals who provided public input during this process.”

 

Link:
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education webpage

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Soldotna School Consolidation: survey and meeting

KPBSD_2017-2022_StrategicPlan_SealSoldotna High School Principal Graham, Soldotna Prep Principal Schmidt, district administration, and the school board request your thoughts and input about consolidating Soldotna Prep School (9th grade) and Soldotna High School (10th-12th grade) beginning with the school year beginning August 20, 2019.

Current reality
Enrollment is declining at Soldotna Prep and Soldotna High School, so both schools will lose teaching staff in the 2019-2020 school year. In addition to declining enrollment, the current state budget deficit in Alaska will require the KPBSD to adjust high school staffing formulas—raise the Pupil-to-Teacher Ratio (PTR)—which will increase class sizes and reduce teaching staff at both schools.

Academic offerings
To retain essential elective offerings for 9th-12th grade students in Soldotna, and ease the teaching position reductions, Principal Schmidt and Principal Graham believe that now is time to move Soldotna ninth grade students into Soldotna High School. This move would create an economy of scale that will lessen the amount of staff reductions and allow for more core and elective offerings for Soldotna 9th – 12th grade students.

Savings to budget
Moving Soldotna Prep 9th grade students into Soldotna High School, relocating River City Academy (RCA), and closing the building that houses Soldotna Prep and RCA will result in an approximate $630,000 overall annual savings to the district budget expenditures. This savings would come from reduced building operations and personnel costs to operate the current building housing two schools.

Soldotna High School and Soldotna Prep School consolidation meeting
April 11, 2019, meeting, 6:00 PM,
Soldotna High School Auditorium

A community meeting for Soldotna High School, Soldotna Prep School, incoming 9th grade students for the school year beginning in August, and community members, families, and staff will be April 11, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. in the Soldotna High School auditorium. The meeting will be hosted by the school principals and John O’Brien, KPBSD assistant superintendent of instruction.

Survey: Parent, student, and staff survey is open from April 4 – 12, 2019

Kindly participate in the survey to share your thoughts, and participate in the potential fast-track action that will benefit the educational opportunity for our Soldotna area teens.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZVY7YLR

2019_04_Soldotna High School consolidation survey QR_code_ZVY7YLR

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District principal thoughts

Tony Graham, Soldotna High School principal:

“We want to provide the best experiences and most opportunities for the students. With the likelihood of an increase to high school pupil-to-teacher ratio and loss of staffing, it will hinder our ability to provide a 10th -12th grade quality education. However, because of economy of scale and staffing formulas, a consolidation with Soldotna Prep 9th grade house would allow us to maintain offerings for 9th -12th grade students that will give them the ability to have a full and rich high school experience preparing them for their future.”

Curt Schmidt, Soldotna Prep School principal:

“Research tells us that ninth grade is the most critical point to intervene and prevent students from losing motivation, failing, and-or dropping out of school. At Soldotna Prep (and through partnership with Soldotna High School) we have done an excellent job to create a school that consistently leads to increasing graduation rates for ninth graders. However, faced with the near certainty of reduced staffing (due to declining enrollment and a loss of state and local funding) our community may be facing a scenario where our school district can no longer support Soldotna Prep in a standalone environment. Under these unfortunate circumstances, we have reached a tipping point that requires us to examine consolidation with Soldotna High School if we are to continue to offer education programming that includes a broad variety of electives, effective intervention programs, and utilizes proven strategies that we know motivate and encourage 9th grade student success.”

Sarge Truesdell, Skyview Middle School principal:

“At Skyview Middle School we created a high school academic schedule with a middle school climate. We use this two-year transition from elementary to high school as a learning experience in preparation for the demands and the rigor of the high school. Over the past five years, the ninth grade Soldotna Prep School has helped our students by intervening during this critical first year of high school. The data has shown that Soldotna Prep School has helped raise graduation rates and success for ninth grade students in the Soldotna area. With the uncertainty of the state budget and declining enrollment, the school district may no longer be able to provide this standalone ninth grade school. If consolidating the Prep School into Soldotna High School is necessary to broaden the elective, intervention, and advanced options for our ninth graders, then I am confident Mr. Schmidt, Mr. Graham, and their teachers will use the strategies and successful ninth grade model to make sure our students are successful in a 9th – 12th grade high school.”

Dawn Edwards-Smith, River City Academy (RCA) principal:

“I’ve discussed with our students and parents the possible closure of the Soldotna Prep building, and the potential need for RCA to move. The district is working to find us a location, should we need it. In the eleven years I have been at RCA, we have moved a number of times. In each of those new spaces, we have built positive partnerships and used the opportunity to evolve. At RCA, we value improving our work through revision or iteration cycles. Changing location or changing space is just one more way to iterate how we do business. With each move, we have maintained our central mission, core values, positive school climate and family atmosphere.”

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KPBSD Graduate Inspiration: Dr. Matthew Pyhala, Homer High School #Classof1993

KPBSD Inspiration, Matthew Pyhala, D.C., Homer High School, Class of 1993

“Through Rotary I have opportunities to improve this community and touch lives around the world. I am also on the board of directors of the Kenai Watershed Forum (KWF). Growing up on my grandparents homestead on the Anchor River makes the KWF mission of “working together for healthy watersheds on the Kenai Peninsula” personally important. Serving on this board has been impactful and consequential to my life.”
– Dr. Matthew Pyhala, Homer High School Class of 1993

 

MAtt Pyhala

When he is not on the water in his kayak, helping with a Rotary service project, teaching an IPA* class, telling a tale at True Tales Told Live, or adventuring with his wife Sarah, you’ll find Dr. Pyhala working as a chiropractic physician at Alaska Advanced Care Chiropractic, in Soldotna, Alaska. A graduate of Homer High School who grew up on his grandparents homestead in Anchor Point, Matthew earned a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science in 1997 from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, then returned to the Kenai Peninsula immediately after graduating in 2001 from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon, and started his practice in 2002.

Meaningful work
“My favorite aspect of my work is the patient interaction and getting to know my patients. Helping people attain a healthier lifestyle is exceptionally rewarding. I continue to learn and grow as a doctor. I am currently pursuing more training as a sports physician. For the past 12 years, I have been the team physician for the Kenai River Brown Bears. I really enjoy working with teams and athletes of all ages. Working with lifelong athletes is especially gratifying. It is special to assist people toward successful lifelong fitness and competition.”

Avid outdoorsman
“For fun you’ll find me outdoors. Recently I established a sea kayaking instruction and guide business, Immersion Paddling Academy. Kayaking is so much fun. I love helping others improve their paddling skills and confidence. The thing I appreciate most about sea kayaking is that it requires a variety skills and complete seamanship. It is a sport where there is always more to learn and improve. Whether it is a flat-water scenic trip or a riotous surf session, I cannot spend too much time in my boat!”

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Service above self
Matt is a longtime active member of the Rotary Club of Soldotna, an international service club, and is often instigating projects and sparking ideas. “Through Rotary I have opportunities to improve this community and touch lives around the world. I am also on the board of directors of the Kenai Watershed Forum (KWF). Growing up on my grandparents homestead on the Anchor River makes the KWF mission of “working together for healthy watersheds on the Kenai Peninsula” personally important. Serving on this board has been impactful and consequential to my life.”

His teacher and coach, Mr. Dohertey at Chapman Elementary & Junior High School was an influence and inspiration. Dr. Pyhala recalls, “Mr. D taught art and physical education, and he was my wrestling coach. He was always encouraging and made learning fun.”

Advice to my younger self…
“Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can. Do not be so focused on your goals that you pass up trying something new. You never know where you will find inspiration.”

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Links
Alaska Advanced Care Chiropractic: www.SoldotnaChiropractor.com
*Immersion Paddling Academy: https://www.facebook.com/immersionpaddlingacademy/

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Interviews for new Superintendent of Schools

KPBSD logo 4c no tag SMALLNews Release
KPBSD Board of Education meeting: Interviews for new Superintendent of Schools

Soldotna, April 1, 2019—The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education is pleased to announce that on Thursday, April 4, 2019, the Board will conduct interviews for the new superintendent of schools. Interviews will be at the George A. Navarre Administration Building, Assembly Chambers, 144 North Binkley St., Soldotna, Alaska, beginning at 4:00 p.m.

  • 4:15 p.m.: Mr. John Pothast, current Director of Elementary & Secondary Education, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
  • 5:30 p.m.: Dr. Christine Ermold, current Director of Human Resources and Professional Development, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

How-to participate in Homer, Seward, or Soldotna, and provide written feedback:
The public is invited to attend the on-site interviews in Soldotna, or watch via live video stream at Homer Middle School or William H. Seward Elementary School. Each finalist will be asked pre-determined identical questions. Everyone who is participating in Homer, Seward, or Soldotna may provide immediate written feedback to the on-site representative, which will then be provided to the Board of Education prior to their executive session. If you want to offer your input, this process will be followed:

  • Audience members must sign in and sign out in order to submit input forms.
  • Audience members must attend the candidate’s interview in order to offer feedback.
  • Input forms must be submitted before leaving the room in order for the board to consider them during the process.

Online link: Watch from anywhere live online, beginning at 4:00 p.m., April 4, 2019

Online Board Docs link with agenda and supporting documents: http://bit.ly/2FMiFKH

The school board conducted a nationwide search and contracted with the Association of Alaska School Boards to facilitate the search process. Initially, three candidates were invited to interview as finalists, but Dr. Ken Haptonstall withdrew his application on March 31, 2019. The school board intends to make the announcement of their choice of a new superintendent as soon as possible following the final interviews and deliberations on the afternoon and evening of Thursday, April 4, 2019.

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2019_04_04 Superintendent Interviews

Graduate Inspiration: Carlyn Nichols, Seward High School #ClassOf1997

Carlyn (Walker) Nichols, a Science, Culinary, and Maker educator at Seward Middle School, a 2018 Kenai BP Teacher of Excellence, and 1997 Seward High graduate said,

“I believe our young people need to struggle together to solve problems, explore new ideas, create content, and engage with their communities locally as well as beyond. If we limit their experiences and their chance to wrestle with ideas, problems and questions, we are limiting their ability to succeed in a future that will demand innovation and collaboration.”

A parent wrote, “My son had never shown a keen interest in science until he entered her classroom. Now, he can’t wait to get to her class so he can be immersed in her lessons and strike off on new adventures of discovery. When you ask your child how their day went and he replies ‘It was awesome since I had Mrs. Nichols today,’ you know that teacher is something special.”

Carlyn Nichols

Mrs. Nichols explains,

As funding for education has dwindled, so has the opportunity for students to explore art, music, shop and other vocational skills. Our students work hard all day with the core subjects and have little chance to work with their hands or express themselves creatively. Screens dominate our society and students seem less independent every year.

In order to combat these trends and increase student access to vocational skills I created a Maker Lab and foods class at Seward Middle School. Now students can be makers, creators, computer scientists, cooks, and artists. These students have built furniture for their rooms, made their own longboards, lamps and blankets, coded their first robot, created their first video game, taken apart engines, learned to solder, or were content to create art or small projects that held their pencils or money. Giving students a place to play, tinker, and make has brought me an incredible sense of joy and accomplishment. They are learning to experiment, work independently, try and fail, and repeat.

 

Educating into the 2020s…

“This is a very exciting and challenging time to be an educator amidst the possibilities and trappings of technology. Students now have more opportunities to access information, collaborate, create, and curate than ever before. Access to technology enables us to challenge and inspire students to innovate and involve themselves in new and exciting ways. We can deliver content in a much more relevant, fluid, diverse, and personal way using technology. However, our students are already very plugged in and can easily become passive and apathetic learners in a high tech environment. It is up to us to leverage technology in a way that improves their experience and ability to engage with the content. Our curriculum should drive them to problem solve, innovate, participate, and safely step beyond their comfort zone. Technology should make education more meaningful, individual and creative, not passive or disconnected.

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At the same time, we as educators and parents need to find every opportunity for young people to manipulate, play, and explore their environments. Students are more and more disconnected from the physical and natural world; it is up to us to mindfully act to mend that. It is crucial we give them the chance to physically construct, design, experiment, and observe their world. We must mindfully act to mend the disconnect between our students and the world beyond their screens.

I am incredibly proud to build and teach a culinary arts class at Seward Middle School. Through this class, my students have fed needy families, catered board meetings and treated their families to home cooked meals. Together we explore nutrition, meal planning, and new foods. Foods class is vital because they gain one more skill toward an independent life and knowledge of healthy eating, not to mention the essential skills of washing dishes, doing laundry, and cleaning a kitchen. It is courses like Maker Lab and Foods Class where I feel like I make the most difference as a teacher; it is where I see students light up, feel the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride. Everyone can succeed in Maker Lab and Foods class; in these safe spaces, all students are equal.”

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Teachers shape a future
“My father taught school in Seward, and my mother was in education at AVTEC, the Alaska Vocational Technical Center in Seward. They are both amazing teachers and lifelong learners who had a huge impact on who I am today.”

After graduating from Seward High in 1997, Carlyn earned her Bachelor of Arts (with honors) from the University of Denver in Environmental Science, minored in International studies. She studied abroad in Uganda, then returning to Alaska, earned her Master of Arts Teaching Program—Secondary Education from the University of Alaska Southeast. She’s been teaching in Seward since 2006.
Carlyn writes, “I was fortunate enough to have many amazing teachers while attending Seward Elementary and Seward Middle-High School. Deb Burdick was a strong, intelligent female role model who challenged and helped me learn to be patient with math. My chemistry teacher Jim Barkman was engaging and the first teacher to really push and prepare me for a college education in science. Wayne Clark was an incredible Spanish teacher. We learned more Spanish from two years of high school with him than any college course. He was on the cutting edge of differentiation and engagement; we danced, we cooked, we played, we drew and it was reason we retained so much. I have fashioned much of my classroom philosophy and strategies from his model. I teach in this district because the one and only Martha Fleming encouraged me to apply and work at Seward High, and how could I say no to her or ignore her advice?”

Activities and co-curriculars offer challenges and experiences to contour a life
“The experiences that were the most important to who I am happened outside the classroom. While a student of KPBSD, I traveled to Magadan, Russia, acted in plays, produced yearbooks and newsletters, visited Washington DC twice—one time as a volunteer at President Clinton’s Inauguration. I played sports, wrote for the local paper, sang and played instruments, and practiced being a leader in student government. There is no way I would be the teacher or mom I am today without all those experiences and challenges. When I look back through my photo albums the most powerful memories and crucial moments are my extra-curricular activities. They showed me what I could do and who I was.”

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Tip to young learners
Grab every opportunity to expand your world and perspective beyond our great state and communities. Some of us grow up in small towns but it does not mean we have to limit ourselves to what is here. It is important to go beyond your comfort zone and geography to find programs that truly help you discover who you are or show you what you can do.

Try as many sports, clubs, and experiences that you can to find what really makes you happy, do not limit yourself to what you think is your thing. Do not limit yourself to what is here, seek beyond, but never forget what a gift is to grow up in Alaska.

Finally, seek out mentors—adults who are not in your family who understand you or share your interests or goals. Each mentor challenges and nourishes us in a unique way, all of which leads to a richer life.

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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, KPBSD communications liaison, Pegge@KPBSD.org.

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Your voice is essential: state lawmakers want to know where you stand

News Release: Your Voice is Needed
KPBSD_2017-2022_StrategicPlan_Seal

Community schools, sports and activities, and effective class sizes are critical to continue successful outcomes for K-12 schools on the Kenai Peninsula. In February, the Governor proposed a budget substitute for the 2019-2020 school year that will result in a cut of $22.4 million from KPBSD schools. 


However, the Governor and state legislators want to hear from you about that proposed budget before it is set in stone. Therefore, now is the time to join the conversation and contribute to positive outcomes for our young people through these opportunities to speak up about what you value in schools and education funding:

 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

 

Monday, March 25, 2019

  • 4:00 – 5:00 PM: The Birds Eye View weekly KSRM 920 AM radio show, guest Governor Michael J. Dunleavy. Call in number: 907-283-5811, listen live online

 

  • 6:00 – 8:00 PM: The Cannery Lodge, Kenai. Statewide Discussion for a Permanent Fiscal Plan with Governor Dunleavy and team. Event is full, wait list only.*

 

“One thing is clear, in order to be successful, we must have the engagement and support of the Alaskan people.”
– Governor Michael J. Dunleavy

“Cuts and efficiencies are possible and necessary, but these proposed reductions would have significant impacts on elders and youth, rural and urban residents, and every facet of our economy. Because of this stark reality, all budget decisions must be informed by input from people across our state.”
– House Speaker Bryce Edgmon

*KDLL 91.9 FM public radio will stream these events live.

District administration, principals, and the Board of Education identified cuts that will be necessary if the Governor’s proposed budget is adopted. This list is $5 million shy of the proposed $22.4 million cut.

2019_March KPBSD 22.4 million in proposed cuts

 

Links

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KPBSD Graduate Inspiration: Dean Carignan, Kenai Central High School #ClassOf1987

“I know that I’m in a good place in my career because I am excited to come to work each day and, on the drive home, my mind is spinning about all the interesting and exciting topics I addressed throughout the day. Moreover, I feel I am working on technologies that, implemented in the right way, can have a massive positive impact for humankind. And I am lucky to work for a company with strong values that shares my desire to use technology as a force for good.”

-Dean Carignan, Director of Program Management for Artificial Intelligence Research, Microsoft Corporation
Kenai Central High School, Class of 1987

 Dean Carignan Kenai Central High School

When he graduated from Kenai Central High School in 1987, do you think Dean imagined he would one day be the Director of Program Management for Artificial Intelligence Research at Microsoft Corporation?

Oh, the places you’ll go! #AKlearns

In his current role, Carignan is responsible for planning and orchestrating Microsoft’s long-term strategy in the field of Artificial Intelligence. He’s worked on a variety of teams including Xbox, Windows, Surface, and Bing for the past 14 years at Microsoft, and served in a variety of functional areas including marketing, product management, business operations, and strategy. Prior to Microsoft, Dean worked at the consulting firm McKinsey and Company, and before that with The World Bank. He holds a Bachelor of Science in International Relations from Georgetown University, and a Masters of Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Life-long learning
“Approach learning as a life-long endeavor—the world is changing incredibly fast and skills that are relevant one day can become obsolete the next,” explains this director of program management for artificial intelligence research. “The best way to ensure long-term work security is to develop solid learning capabilities that enable you to expand your skills and knowledge over a lifetime. Do not think of learning as drudgery but as one of the greatest joys humans can experience. Think deeply about the contexts in which you learn most effectively and in which you most enjoy the learning process. Then seek out those learning contexts wherever possible. Develop the habit of lifelong learning now while in school and it will serve you well throughout your entire life.”

 

My 6th grade teacher #LifeSkills
Dorothy Besch was his 6th grade teacher, and Dean remembers, “She ran an incredible classroom that combined academic learning, life skills, and just plain fun. I recall looking forward to school every day and being amazed at how much I learned. One unique exercise was a ‘pretend’ social gathering in which Mrs. Besch coached us on how to mingle and make ‘small talk.’ This was not part of any formal curriculum but it delivered skills I’ve used almost every day in my adult life!”

 

AI, podcasts, productivity

“I work on Artificial Intelligence, and I worry about the ability of intelligent machines to replace humans in many important jobs. To help address this concern, I serve on a special task force at Microsoft that looks for ways to ensure that Artificial Intelligence is designed and deployed in ways that augment humans and make them more productive rather than replace them. In addition, I am a slow reader and for many years feared this would prevent me from consuming the large volume of industry news and information that is necessary to stay current in the technology field. Thankfully, industry podcasts have enabled me to acquire virtually all of the needed information audibly. I am even able to listen to my podcasts at double the normal playback speed so I get twice the amount of information in a given listening session.”

 

A life-long learner, innovator, and family man living in Kirkland, Washington, Dean adds,My church supports a homeless shelter for families and I volunteer at the facility whenever possible. My participation has slowed down a bit, though, with the birth this year of our second son! I hope to re-engage with the shelter in the near future.”

Inspiration
His father, Richard Carignan, deeply influenced his entire perspective on life, education, and work. “A former educator and instructional leader in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, he taught me many effective learning techniques and—more important—demonstrated a true personal love of learning which I have sought to emulate in my life and career,” said Dean. “I’m indebted to him.”

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

Dean Carignan Kenai Central High School s