News Release: Arbitrator’s Advisory Report

KPBSD_2017-2022_StrategicPlan_SealSoldotna, May 2, 2019—the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD) received the Advisory Arbitration Report. The two days of Advisory Arbitration took place February 26-27, 2019, with the Kenai Peninsula Education Association (KPEA) and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association (KPESA).

District administration and school board members are reviewing and analyzing Arbitrator Dorothy Fallon’s Report.

KPBSD, KPEA, and KPESA will meet to continue bargaining on May 8, 2019.

The Arbitrator’s Advisory Report can be viewed or downloaded from the KPBSD collective bargaining webpage, or via the KPBSD homepage from a link in the Community Interest section.

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Celebrate the Kenai 2019 BP Teachers of Excellence

KPBSD celebrates our three 2019 BP Teachers of Excellence and the 2019 Kenai Education Ally.

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I am very proud of all our finalists for this prestigious award,” said Sean Dusek, superintendent. “They all embody the qualities we want all of our teachers to exhibit, especially in how they ensure a strong, positive relationship with each and every student. Each finalist is very deserving of this recognition and I look forward to their continued excellence and leadership in our district.”

2019 Kenai BP Teachers of Excellence

click the name of each honoree to read an expanded online story

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Julie Doepken, William H. Seward Elementary School librarian
Her love for reading and books is contagious. Even though she only sees students once a week, she ignites a passion for books, reading and critical thinking in her students. In addition, most of all, she encourages a trait of curiosity, which will benefits students throughout their entire life.”
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Jennifer Hornung, Nikiski Middle-High School math and science teacher, and head volleyball coach for Nikiski middle school students
“Not only does Jennifer collaborate with and seek feedback from her colleagues to perfect her craft, but maybe more importantly, she seeks that feedback from her students. Students in her classes provide her with assessment data that continually drives her craft and instruction. She also discusses how our graduates do in the various programs they enter into post high school.”
IMG_3681Wendy Todd, Paul Banks Elementary School kindergarten teacher
“Kindergarten is most children’s first experience in school. Ms. Todd welcomes these young students into their first group-learning environment in a way that engages them in creative, consistent, meaningful activities that create a love of learning.”

BP Educational Ally Award, 2019 Kenai Peninsula

The award recognizes the unsung heroes in our schools who are work to inspire students and are making a difference in our schools and community.

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Martha Fleming, Seward High School guidance counselor and more | “Martha was a full partner in the creation of a program that truly put students’ needs at the center of all that Seward High does academically and managerially. This required a fundamental change in the way we thought about instruction, assessment, and credit acquisition and simply could not have been done without her advocacy and leadership throughout the process.”

“These teachers represent the best of Alaska education, and it’s an honor to recognize them with this award,” said BP Alaska President Janet Weiss. “At BP, we’re proud to play a part in supporting their continued success and showing our ongoing commitment to the state and to creating the leaders of tomorrow.”

For 24 years, the BP Teachers of Excellence program has honored K-12 teachers from public and private school districts statewide. Since the program’s inception in 1995, BP has recognized more than 750 teachers. Winning teachers receive a $500 gift card and a $500 matching grant to their school. Teachers also receive a trip to Prudhoe Bay to learn about BP’s operations and paid admission for the Alaska Resource Education’s teacher course.

Learn more

Click the individual awardee name to read an expanded story

BP Teachers of Excellence website

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Celebrate Wendy Todd, 2019 Kenai BP Teacher of Excellence

Celebrate Wendy Todd, 2019 Kenai BP Teacher of Excellence

BP 2019 Homer

“When I learned I was recognized as a BP Teacher of Excellence, I thought that this award truly goes to the Paul Banks Peanuts community; my special colleagues, committed parents, and the incredible students I am lucky enough to teach every day. It truly takes a “whole” team to help the “whole” child grow. I am so thankful I have been given the freedom while teaching to allow kids to explore, do, try, create, and learn to love school.  I feel passionate about helping students and parents get a positive start on their child’s education and get a foundation of skills to lean on for their future years.” – Wendy Todd

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Ms. Wendy Todd teaches kindergarten at Paul Banks Elementary School in Homer, Alaska. She also coaches basketball at Homer High School, and she has a Bachelor of Science from Ithaca College and a Master’s in Education from the University of Alaska Southeast.

Kindergarten is most children’s first experience in school. Ms. Todd welcomes these young students into their first group-learning environment in a way that engages them in creative, consistent, meaningful activities that create a love of learning.

One parent of a child just entering the school system wrote, “Our daughter comes home every day excited to share what she’s learned. She is not even six years old, yet her reading improves weekly and she loves playing math games. I’m amazed at Wendy’s knowledge of each individual child’s stage of learning.”

Stories are told that some parents have a hard time determining if their child is really sick or not, because the young students won’t risk missing school.

Ms. Todd creates a safe, kind classroom with clear expectations. Furthermore, she works to engage older mentors, regularly inviting high school students and parents to her classroom to help with what she calls “cooperative learning and personalized instruction.”

One of her biggest strengths is helping intensive needs students or behavioral students improve their behavior and learning. Thankfully, Wendy is generous with her time and experience, hosting several student teachers and many practicum students over the years. She also serves as the newspaper liaison to share all the exciting learning happening at Paul Banks with the community.

 

“Wendy Todd is one of those teachers who makes everyone around her better,” said Eric Peterson, Paul Banks principal. “She is a professional through and through. Many students have become great readers under her tutelage and instruction. From a principal’s viewpoint, she is one of those teachers you cannot replace, but revel in the fact that you had a chance to work with someone who is exemplar in the profession.”

I am very proud of all our finalists for this prestigious award,” said Sean Dusek, superintendent. “They all embody the qualities we want all of our teachers to exhibit, especially in how they ensure a strong, positive relationship with each and every student. Each finalist is very deserving of this recognition and I look forward to their continued excellence and leadership in our district.”

For 24 years, the BP Teachers of Excellence program has honored K-12 teachers from public and private school districts statewide. Since the program’s inception in 1995, BP has recognized more than 750 teachers. Winning teachers receive a $500 gift card and a $500 matching grant to their school. Teachers also receive a trip to Prudhoe Bay to learn about BP’s operations and paid admission for the Alaska Resource Education’s teacher course.
BP Teachers of Excellence website

 

Celebrate Jennifer Hornung, 2019 Kenai BP Teacher of Excellence

Celebrate Jennifer Hornung, 2019 Kenai BP Teacher of Excellence

BP 2019 Nikiski TOE

Ms. Hornung teaches a long list of math and science courses to sixth through twelfth graders at Nikiski Middle and High School, and she is also head volleyball coach for Nikiski Middle School. She holds two bachelor’s degrees: one in exercise physiology from the University of Wyoming, and another in education from Chadron State College. And, she earned a Masters Degree in Middle Level Mathematics.

Jennifer devotes much of her free time to volunteering in the community, attending STEM courses, serving as a mentor to new teachers, and creating educational experiences outside the classroom, for example, taking juniors and seniors to the elementary school to help younger kids set up science-fair projects. Recently, when a student was presentating to the Board of Education, he said that Ms. Hornung is the reason why he knows why he is learning what he is learning; it is not an obscure textbook answer, but something he can use in his everyday life.

She constantly looks for ways to help her students prepare for life beyond school. She’s known to even reach out to students after they’ve gone on to college to ask them how well they felt prepared so she can adapt her lessons to the constantly changing world. But it’s not just the college-bound students that Jennifer inspires. She teaches some of the most at-risk middle school students to build up their foundational skills so they can excel as they progress through school. She is the teacher who will meet all students where they are at and build their foundation to be successful.

In addition, to her many achievements? She says, “I measure them by the successes of my former students.”

BP 2019 Nikiski

Dan Carstens, her principal said, “Jennifer came to us five years ago from Wyoming searching for a school where she could develop her students and work collaboratively with her colleagues and principals. She has accomplished that and more here at Nikiski Middle-High School. She is our current physical science teacher, but has also recently taken on our engineering classes and anatomy as well; this makes it so that she ends up teaching seven classes where the typical teacher will see five. She welcomes these additional roles because it is what our students desire: opportunities for learning, succeeding, and having a vision for what their futures may hold. Jennifer does it for the kids.

Not only does Jennifer collaborate with and seek feedback from her colleagues to perfect her craft, but maybe more importantly, she seeks that feedback from her students. Students in her classes provide her with assessment data that continually drives her craft and instruction. She also discusses how our graduates do in the various programs they enter into post high school. I cannot tell you just how many students give her feedback, but she has an insatiable appetite to ensure what she is doing for kids will prepare them and help them to be as successful as they possible can after they leave our doors.

I recently had a discussion with a graduating senior this year, one who typically does not speak out much on teachers. When she learned about Jennifer being recognized as a BP Teacher of Excellence, she was not surprised. She simply said: “Yeah, that’s the kind of teacher she is. She cares about what I learn and pushes me to be my absolute best in her class and beyond. If I don’t understand something, she doesn’t just give me a hint or an answer, she asks me more questions and makes me think deeper and problem solve more.”

Jennifer is an example of one of the many things that are right with our education community and specifically here in Nikiski. But what we need to understand is that she does not do this for the recognition. When she learned about the recognition being in Anchorage, she immediately said, “Oh man, am I going to miss school for the day?”…she was relieved to learn it would be in the evening where she could first be with her students. Her first thought was with her kids … which is where her thoughts are every single day.”

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I am very proud of all our finalists for this prestigious award,” said Sean Dusek, superintendent. “They all embody the qualities we want all of our teachers to exhibit, especially in how they ensure a strong, positive relationship with each and every student. Each finalist is very deserving of this recognition and I look forward to their continued excellence and leadership in our district.”

For 24 years, the BP Teachers of Excellence program has honored K-12 teachers from public and private school districts statewide. Since the program’s inception in 1995, BP has recognized more than 750 teachers. Winning teachers receive a $500 gift card and a $500 matching grant to their school. Teachers also receive a trip to Prudhoe Bay to learn about BP’s operations and paid admission for the Alaska Resource Education’s teacher course.

BP Teachers of Excellence website

Congratulations, Jennifer Hornung, BP Teacher of Excellence.

 

 

Celebrate Julie Doepken, 2019 Kenai BP Teacher of Excellence

Congratulations, Julie Doepken, 2019 Kenai BP Teacher of Excellence

BP 2019 Seward TOE

“When I found out I was nominated as a BP Teacher of Excellence, I was rather giddy at the thought that someone noticed what I do and took the time to nominate me. Multiply that by at least 100 to come close to the exhilarated astonishment I felt at being named one of the finalists. I am surrounded by amazing teachers at Seward Elementary and have amazing library colleagues throughout our district. My own teaching has only improved by collaborating with them and learning from them. School librarians and library staff are too often on the chopping block when districts are faced with making cuts, and I hope my receiving this award will shine a light on the important work we do every day in our school libraries to foster a love of reading in our students.” –Julie Doepken

Ms. Doepken is the librarian at William H. Seward Elementary School. She teaches library classes and Title One Reading Intervention to pre-kindergarten through fifth graders. She received her bachelor’s degree from University of Indianapolis in English and Spanish and her master’s in library science from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

As a librarian, Ms. Doepken’s classes do not have a set curriculum. Her lessons vary greatly from year to year, focusing on library, research and digital citizenship skills. However, her main job, as she puts it, is to “spark a love of reading, and then keep fanning the flames.”

Her love for reading and books is contagious. Even though she only sees students once a week, she ignites a passion for books, reading and critical thinking in her students. In addition, most of all, she encourages a trait of curiosity, which will benefits students throughout their entire life.

One of her student’s parents wrote, “I am certain Mrs. Doepken has inspired many children to become lifelong readers. She makes the library the best place to be in the school.”

She reads as many new books as possible so she can “book talk” with her students, conducting mini-conferences during checkout to discuss and express excitement about their reading selections. However, her ultimate goal is to create a place that each student feels welcomed, valued and safe. She says, “each student has incredible potential in myriad ways and I truly feel it is my job as a teacher librarian to foster a love for learning in ways that clearly show I respect and care for each and every child.”

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I am very proud of all our finalists for this prestigious award,” said Sean Dusek, superintendent. “They all embody the qualities we want all of our teachers to exhibit, especially in how they ensure a strong, positive relationship with each and every student. Each finalist is very deserving of this recognition and I look forward to their continued excellence and leadership in our district.”

For 24 years, the BP Teachers of Excellence program has honored K-12 teachers from public and private school districts statewide. Since the program’s inception in 1995, BP has recognized more than 750 teachers. Winning teachers receive a $500 gift card and a $500 matching grant to their school. Teachers also receive a trip to Prudhoe Bay to learn about BP’s operations and paid admission for the Alaska Resource Education’s teacher course.

BP Teachers of Excellence website

Congratulations, Julie Doepken, BP Teacher of Excellence.

 

Celebrate Martha Fleming, Kenai 2019 BP Educational Ally

Celebrate Martha Fleming, Kenai 2019 BP Educational Ally

BP 2019 Seward

It’s the job of the high school guidance counselor to assess each student’s entire academic life and get to know his or her strengths, struggles, social life, home life, and, perhaps most important, his or her potential. Martha Fleming, from Seward High School, is the 2019 BP Educational Ally for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. She is described by many as “the very being” of their school. She has guided countless students to apply themselves into successful career paths they would not otherwise have pursued.

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At the awards celebration, BP said, “There is no scholarship application that goes unnoticed; no parent meeting that goes unattended by this ally. She simply makes everything happen. As counselor at Seward High School for generations of students, she has been an open door, a consoling shoulder, a safe haven and an advocate for local teens. Regrettably, but deservingly, this Educational Ally will be retiring at the end of this school year. Her nominator wrote, ‘The Grand Canyon would barely start to compare to the void she will leave behind.’ And we will certainly all feel that void.”

Trevan Walker, the Seward High School principal said, “Martha was a full partner in the creation of a program that truly put students’ needs at the center of all that Seward High does academically and managerially. This required a fundamental change in the way we thought about instruction, assessment, and credit acquisition and simply could not have been done without her advocacy and leadership throughout the process. I have often made jokes that Martha is the lowest paid co-principal in the history of public education! Joking aside, however, this really does describe the value of her role in Seward High’s program where we create graduation plans that are individualized to meet the specific needs of each of our students and their families. Martha is a full partner administratively and instructionally.”

Mr. Walker continues, “However, most importantly is that Martha’s greatest quality is her relationship with students. They genuinely believe that she would do anything to help them be successful. They respond by working hard on their part. I am constantly amazed at the quality of graduates that Seward High produces year after year. I genuinely believe that each is specifically suited to pursue their post-graduate goals based on the experiences they generated here. Martha Fleming’s contribution to this success is difficult to fully articulate, but is certainly worthy of celebrating.”

I am very proud of all our finalists for this prestigious award,” said Sean Dusek, superintendent. “They all embody the qualities we want all of our teachers to exhibit, especially in how they ensure a strong, positive relationship with each and every student. Each finalist is very deserving of this recognition and I look forward to their continued excellence and leadership in our district.”

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For 24 years, the BP Teachers of Excellence program has honored K-12 teachers from public and private school districts statewide. Since the program’s inception in 1995, BP has recognized more than 750 teachers. Winning teachers receive a $500 gift card and a $500 matching grant to their school. Teachers also receive a trip to Prudhoe Bay to learn about BP’s operations and paid admission for the Alaska Resource Education’s teacher course.

BP Teachers of Excellence website

Congratulations, Martha Fleming, BP Educational Ally.

 

Kenai Peninsula Class of 2019 Graduation Lineup

FY19 Class of 2019 Graduation Schedule

“Congratulations to the class of 2019! I am very proud to send another high caliber group of young people into their future. I wish all of our graduates the best and look forward to seeing the positive difference they will make in the world!” – Superintendent Sean Dusek

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Class of 2019 Graduations

Kindly check this link for any changes or updates: http://bit.ly/KPBSDgraduations
School Location Date Time
Cooper Landing School No graduates this year
Connections Homeschool Soldotna High School May 23, 2019 4:00 PM
Homer Flex School Land’s End May 22, 2019 5:00 PM
Homer High School Homer High Gym May 22, 2019 7:00 PM
Hope School Hope School Gym May 22, 2019 6:00 PM
Kachemak Selo School Kachemak Selo School May 20, 2019 1:00 PM
Kenai Alternative School Kenai Alternative School Gym May 22, 2019 5:00 PM
Kenai Central High School Kenai Central High School May 21, 2019 6:30 PM
Nanwalek School Nanwalek School May 21, 2019 1:00 PM
Nikiski High School Nikiski High Gym May 20, 2019 7:00 PM
Nikolaevsk School Nikolaevsk School May 20, 2019  5:00 PM
Ninilchik School Ninilchik School Gym May 21, 2019 6:00 PM
Port Graham School Port Graham School May 21, 2019 4:00 PM
Razdolna School Razdolna School May 28, 2019 1:00 PM
River City Academy Soldotna Sports Center May 21, 2019  6:00 PM
Seward High School Seward High May 20, 2019  7:00 PM
Soldotna High School Soldotna Sports Center May 22, 2019 7:00 PM
Susan B. English school Susan B. English School May 20, 2019 4:00 PM
Tebughna School Tebughna School Gym May 21, 2019 6:00 PM
Voznesenka School Land’s End May 23, 2019 4:30 PM

 

Caring for the Kenai 2019 Competition raises the bar

“What can I do, invent or create to better care for the environment of the Kenai Peninsula or improve the area’s preparedness for a natural disaster?”

In the 29th year of the competition, on April 18, 2019, Homer High student Austin Cline took first place honors and a $1,600 cash award in the annual Caring for the Kenai environmental and natural disaster preparedness contest.

1 HHS Austin Cline IMG_3270

Austin’s proposal to recycle plastic waste into 3-D printer filament wowed the crowd and judges at the Kenai Central High School Little Theater. Cline explained:

“It’s a simple process that I already have grants for … it’s to turn plastics into 3-D printing material.”

Taking second place and earning $1,100 was the team of Lindy Guernsey and Akilena Veach from Seward High School. Lindy and Akilena demonstrated a working drone which they had built at school, using 3-D printers. The girls use the drone to survey Seward’s floodplains. The girls’ work has supplied the Seward Flood Board with crucial data to help prevent property damage during flooding events.

Lindy said:

“We worked with our outward bound program and built the drone then we heard about Caring for the Kenai and our science teacher encouraged us to enter.”

Akilena added:

“We learned how to fly the drone on a computer simulator after we built it, we’ve flying for three years we’ve been working with younger students so the program will continue after we graduate.”

2 Seward Lindy and Akilena IMG_3106

In third place and claiming a $900 prize was Connections home school student Anna DeVolld. Anna will be visiting local Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club meetings to share information about the role of pollinators in our ecosystem. As part of her presentation, Anna shared a ‘Pollinator Pack’ she has developed; a cluster of plants which support pollinators like bees and bats. These packs of plants will also be distributed to Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club members, “I’m also giving educational programs about pollinators to increase awareness of how important they are to our community, our salmon runs and food production. I’ll be using my prize money to fund my pollinator packets. I learned a lot of my computer skills because of my CFK idea,” said 13-year-old DeVolld.

3 Anna DeVolld IMG_3094

Taking fourth place honors and $750 was Homer High student Vianne Sarber. Vianne used her incredible skills in art and graphic design to create a children’s storybook titled ‘Sophie Saves the Sea.’ Vianne plans to publish the book through Kindle. “I’m incredible grateful to Mr. Stineff for assigning CFK to me. I allows me to learn and use my skills to make a difference,” said Sarber.

With a catchy (and original) rap, Jacob Topp took 5th place with his rap to remind people about ‘Nice Ice Safety.’ The rap, set to Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice, Ice Baby,’ is designed to be played over the radio and promote a Facebook page with regular ice safety updates.

The team of Landon Vyhmeister and Josiah Nunn won 6th place and a $550 prize with a video game they developed. The project, titled ‘R.I.S.E. U.P.’, challenges students at different age levels to survive various natural disasters. The boys are working to have their game included in school curriculum.

End of story 2019 CFK Orals 121

Finalists who earned $400 each for making it to the final 12 out of 400 plus entries are:

  • Dylan Duniphin, Kenai Central High School, Nutrient Runoff
  • Melita Efta, Kenai Central High School, Coloring On the Kenai
  • Olivia Ferguson, Rebecca Okonek, & Autumn Calabrese, Ninilchik School, Worms Are Sexy
  • Riley Graves, Kenai Central High School, Magnetic Beach Rake
  • Justin Hansen, Soldotna Prep, The Trails Initiative
  • Shawna Hudson, Kenai Central High School, Solution For Pollution

“Caring for the Kenai is a special opportunity for our students to showcase their ingenuity, problem solving skills and creativity,” said Superintendent of Schools Sean Dusek. “This year’s competition was another wonderful year of our students showcasing these talents in extraordinary ways! I am very proud of the students and their teachers who worked hard to not only develop projects that extended their classroom learning, but who are also are having meaningful, positive impacts in their communities. I am proud to have been associated with such a fantastic program that supports our students in so many ways.”

The CFK essay prompt challenges high school students to respond to the question “What can I do, invent or create to better care for the environment of the Kenai Peninsula or improve the area’s preparedness for a natural disaster?” The contest, administered by the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, was assigned this year in Kenai Peninsula freshman biology classrooms, with one home school student and at least two high school students entering voluntarily.

In addition to the $8,000 in cash awards for the finalists, this year $20,000 will be awarded to the school’s science departments. Thanks to the CFK signature sponsor Marathon Petroleum Corporation and the community partners Kenai River Raven Lodge, Hilcorp Energy, Peninsula Community Health Services, ConocoPhillips, Sweeney’s Clothing, and Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center.

High schools using CFK as part of state standards curriculum were: Cook Inlet Academy, Kenai Central High, Homer High, Nikiski High, Ninilchik School, Razdolna School, Seward High, Soldotna Prep, and several home school students. Students can enter every year of their high school career, whether the contest is assigned in class or not.

Each school receives $750 for their participation and the remainder of the $20,000 will be allocated according to how the school’s students ranked in the CFK competition. Additionally, close to 20 students will receive special recognition awards from local businesses and individuals.

This year’s contest was noted for its unusually high scores and number of students who have already implemented their ideas.

In addition to cash awards the finalists receive the 2019 CFK hooded sweatshirt and beanie. On Saturday, April 27, 2019, finalists, teachers, and guests will attend the CFK V.I.P Awards banquet hosted in their honor by Marathon Petroleum Corporation at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska.

COVER 2019 Caring for the Kenai

All the nearly 400 participants that entered the contest will receive a CFK beanie for their hard work and creativity. This year’s oral presentation judges included Dr. Nels Anderson (Mayor of Soldotna), Cameron Hunt (Marathon Petroleum Corporation), Pegge Erkeneff (Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Communications Liaison), Dan Nelson (Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management), Marnie Olcott (Challenger Learning Center CEO), Dick Erkeneff (Kenai River Raven Lodge), Robin Barry (ENSTAR Southern Division Manager), and Carlee Rizzo. Caring for the Kenai is administered as part of the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska educational programs.

Links

News release: School board approves interim Superintendent of Schools

KPBSD_2017-2022_StrategicPlan_SealBoard of Education approves Mr. John O’Brien to become interim KPBSD Superintendent of Schools

Soldotna, April 18, 2019—At a special board of education meeting, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District school board voted 8-0 to amend and approve John O’Brien’s FY20 contract to officially place Mr. John O’Brien as the KPBSB Interim Superintendent on July 1, 2019 until June 30, 2020.

John O'Brien“I humbly accept this appointment as Interim Superintendent and am 100% committed to work on behalf of the entire Kenai Peninsula community to achieve positive educational outcomes for our students,” said Mr. O’Brien. “The Board of Education asked me to step up to help our school district through this challenging transition period in our state. I am committed to the students, parents, and staff of this District and will work with everyone to provide a high quality educational experience for our students through the continued implementation of our five-year strategic plan. We clearly have many difficult choices ahead of us as a District due to the fiscal uncertainty in our state. I am hopeful that by persistently working together we will emerge from this storm stronger, more resilient, and more cohesive.”

 

An educator since 1993, Mr. O’Brien began his career twenty-six years ago as a special education teacher in Maine. While an educator in Maine, he served schools as an athletic director, assistant principal, principal, and as Maine’s Distinguished Educator for Teacher Quality at the Maine Department of Education. In 2005, he and his family moved to Nikiski, Alaska, where he joined the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District as the educational and instructional leader of Nikiski Middle-High School. In 2011, he left the role of school principal to serve as the director of secondary education for the KPBSD, and in 2015 became the assistant superintendent of instruction. Mr. O’Brien holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership. In his free time he takes every opportunity he can to chase rainbow trout with a fly rod.

Board President Penny Vadla said, “I have every confidence that Interim Superintendent John O’Brien is committed to move our District forward through these challenging and demanding times. Superintendent O’Brien will work diligently to ensure our five year strategic plan and our vision are kept intact; and with the collaborative efforts of the District Leadership team and the Board of Education, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will continue our commitment to provide a quality educational experience for all KPBSD students.”

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KPBSD Inspiration, Kelly King, Nikiski High School #ClassOf1999

Born and raised in Alaska, Kelly King now serves one of our most vulnerable and invisible populations on the Kenai Peninsula—youth who experience homelessness, and lack a stable place to sleep at night.

Kelly King

When she graduated from Nikiski Middle-High School in 1999, after elementary years at (Nikiski) North Star, she headed north to the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She’s now in her eleventh year working in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District as the KPBSD Students in Transition Program Coordinator and Central Peninsula Homeless Liaison.
Early years with her parents deeply influenced her professional life path. She said, “I watched them actively care for and about people throughout my childhood, and I always knew I wanted to contribute to my neighbors and my community in the same way. I see the value in people looking out for each other. My mom and dad spent a lot of time, energy, and resources building into people’s lives and I was always inspired by the outcome of love they brought to the table.”

“Say ‘yes’ to you.”
It can be daunting to be bold in who you are, what you’re interested in, and what you want to go after—especially as a teenager that just wants to fit in. But the things that might make you feel out of place in high school can be the very things you’re most proud of as an adult or that have the biggest impact on the world around you.”

Teachers who care change the world
“I was an extremely shy child and because of that, going to school was really difficult for me. Academics were comfortable and came naturally, but the social aspect was overwhelming and produced a lot of anxiety. In middle school, I really struggled with feeling like I fit in or had a place to claim—but teachers at Nikiski, some whom I had no classes with, noticed and went out of their way to engage with me.

Phil Morin, Vern Kornstad, and Lori Manion reached out to me from a place that had nothing to do with academics, but everything to do with connection. They spent time getting me involved, fostering my self-confidence, and building a sense of belonging. They shifted my perspective of myself and that changed my entire school experience moving forward. I was blessed to work with these amazing people after coming back to KPBSD and I saw how they had similar, beautiful impacts on so many other students’ lives.

Meaningful work in the world
I believe in the work I am doing, and see the continual need in our community for supports. Homelessness in Alaska, and on the Peninsula specifically, is an issue that is often overlooked and misunderstood. I want to be a part in changing that dialogue. I am proud of the program we have in place and our push to provide quality services, to be innovative with the resources we have, and to ensure students and families experiencing homelessness trust they have an advocate. When I see students who have been a part of the SIT Program living successful, productive, joyful lives, or when I hear from families that something we offered made even a small difference in a moment they really needed that support, it fills me up. I have no doubt I am where I am supposed to be and I am thankful for the opportunity to be here every day.

Unplugged play and fun
We are so lucky to live in Alaska, aren’t we? Every day we wake up in a place that is on so many Bucket Lists—I try to soak it up and soak it in as often as possible! I love to adventure with friends and family, take road trips, snowshoe and cabin camp in the winter, and anything on, in, or near the water. I totally dig live music and am excited by the festivals and events popping up locally over the last few years. I also work really hard to make it to Maui each year—I’m pretty sure palm trees are my “spirit animal.”

Living with service as a high value
Earlier this year I joined the local 100 Women Who Care, and it has been awesome to see what a powerful impact this group of compassionate, community-minded women are making right here at home. I volunteer for the local Relay for Life and am helping organize the Brewery to Bathroom 0.5k fundraiser this year, as well as an upcoming event for KPAL (Kenai Peninsula Animal Lovers) Rescue. There are so many worthy causes and opportunities to get involved in our community; I would really encourage people to find what speaks to them and then find a way to plug in. One of the things that has always made me proud to be from Nikiski and the Peninsula in general is the way people show up for each other—get in on the action!

Links

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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.