KPBSD Summer Camps full steam ahead

Students from Chapman School, Homer Middle School, K-Beach Elementary, Kenai Middle School, Ninilchik, River City Academy, Skyview Middle School, Soldotna Elementary, Sterling Elementary, Tustumena Elementary, and West Homer Elementary participated in E-Game Week One Summer STEAM camp!

Learning and creativity with tie dye shirts, acrylic pour art, painted rocks, and clay air plants
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Kids Cleanup 1,318 pounds

450 Kids Cleanup the Kenai River!

The Kids Kenai River Spring Cleanup was another huge success! Nearing the end of the school year, on a sunny day, followed by yet another chilly day with snow, approximately 450 students removed 1,318 pounds of trash from the banks of the Kenai River.

In 2022, seven locations were cleaned on May 12th and 13th from Bing’s Landing and Izaak Walton Campground in Sterling, to Soldotna Creek Park, the Soldotna Visitor Center bridge area, Centennial and Swiftwater Park and Campgrounds in Soldotna, and the KPB River Center on Funny River Road.

Redoubt Elementary removed the most litter—a whopping 380 pounds! As the litter pick-up winners, they celebrated with a pizza party. All participants received root beer float supplies.

Over the past eight Spring Cleanup Events, the kids have removed over 18,000 pounds of trash from the Kenai! The Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) is pleased to collaborate with Cindy and Mark Glassmaker to coordinate this annual event. Shannon Martin, KRSA Executive Director said, “It takes a willing community to host such large-scale events and we are seeking additional volunteers to join the Cleanup Committee. Please let me know if you would like to join our efforts in 2023.”

Thank you

Organizers: KRSA, Cindy and Mark Glassmaker

Volunteers: KRSA Staff, the Glassmakers, and Professional Fishing Guides from Alaska Fishing with Mark Glassmaker, City of Soldotna Parks and Recreation Staff

Donations: Fred Meyers Soldotna, Kenai River Professional Guide Association (KRPGA), Janet Warner Avery Family

Special thanks to City of Soldotna and DNR for allowing early location access to the river locations. Thank you to SAFE Kids and Central Peninsula Hospital (CPH) for providing life jackets. Most importantly thank you to the students, teachers, and chaperones for their efforts!

Link: Kenai River Spring Cleanup on Facebook

Story contributed by Shannon Martin, KRSA

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June Board of Education Meeting

June 2022 Board of Education Meetings and Work Sessions

The following school board meetings and work sessions will be held in the

Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers at 144 Binkley Street, Soldotna AK unless otherwise noted.

PLEASE NOTE:  The meetings are open to the public.  The public is invited to attend in person and to listen and participate as noted below. 

(877) 853-5257

Conference ID: 708 024 188

When prompted for an Attendee ID, press #.

Zoom ID: 708 024 188

Meeting Schedule

June 6, 2022

Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers

1:00 p.m. Board Policy Review Committee Meeting (Public Listening)

2:30 p.m. Special Meeting-Negotiations (Public Listening and Participation will be as noted on the Agenda in BoardDocs )

Work Sessions-(Public Listening)

3:00 p.m. Board Policy Review

3:30 p.m. Finance Update

4:00 p.m. Strategic Plan Update

4:30 p.m. Board Discussion

6:00 p.m. Business Meeting: (Public Listening and Participation will be as noted on the Agenda in BoardDocs )

June 7, 2022

The Donald E. Gilman River Center

514 Funny River Road
Soldotna, AK 99669

Planning Session

9:30 a.m. Review of Staffing Formula

1:00 p.m. Review of Board Self Evaluation

1:30 p.m. Review of 2021-2022 Board Goals & 2022-2023 Board Goals

If you would like to pre-register to testify telephonically (optional) or if you have any technical difficulties or questions, contact Lisa Gabriel at, 907-714-8836, Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. To view the agenda and packet items, log on to: To view the live Broadcast log on to or Live Broadcast

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KPBSD is hiring Director of Communications

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is hiring a Director of Communications and Community Relations. The position begins July 1, 2022, is fulltime, located at the district office in Soldotna, Alaska, on the Kenai Peninsula.

Read the Director of Communications and Community Relations position description

Apply today, position closing soon.

“A key member of the Superintendent of Schools Leadership Team. … The Director of Communications and Community Engagement is the primary spokesperson for KPBSD and responsible to develop, recommend, and administer districtwide verbal, print, video, and electronic communications for district and individual schools using digital platforms that include mobile app and social spaces; both district and school blogs and websites, and statewide media…”

KPBSD Communications webpage

KPBSD Employment and Human Relations


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Heather Baker is a finalist to be 2023 Alaska Teacher of the Year

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development announced four teachers as finalists for the 2023 Teacher of the Year, including our very own Heather Baker who teaches a multiage 4th and 5th grade class at K-Beach Elementary School!

“It is truly an honor and a humbling experience to be a finalist for Alaska Teacher of the Year. To be nominated for the award means that I was successful in impacting a child’s learning journey in a profound enough way that someone took time to note it. That brings me true joy because that is why I am here every day. I want to positively impact the lives of the children who walk through my doors. I want them to see themselves as more than any label they feel attached to. I want them to see their successes and growth, to love this learning journey they are on and know that I am here to support and love them along the way. I am incredibly proud of the students in my room. This award highlights our learning journey together. It was their work that was highlighted in videos and samples that truly shined.”

-Heather Baker

Heather Baker is an outstanding teacher who is known for her student-centered and personalized approach to teaching students,” said Superintendent Clayton Holland. “Not only does Mrs. Baker have a positive impact with the students she works directly with, she has a huge impact as a teacher leader who works to expand effective educational practices as member of the district Champs Community of Practices. Champs contribute to innovative practices across our entire district with reflection on success, and provides a support system for staff who are problem solving and innovating their instructional practices. Mrs. Baker is known for the support she provides and her strong work with student goal setting, data driven practices, and flexible student choice.”

K-Beach Elementary principal Janae Van Slyke said, “Heather Baker is an outstanding educator who designs her lessons and units using a student-centered approach. She creates an immersive learning environment focused on inquiry through interactive lessons. Mrs. Baker utilizes performance-based assessments and project-based learning rubrics to enhance student learning. She works collaboratively with her students to determine project design criteria and assessment, and she personalizes her instruction to meet the needs and interests of individual students. Mrs. Baker is an exceptional teacher and this honor is well deserved!”

In her words…

Tip: Fail Forward!

“My advice for a current student; fail forward. EVERYONE makes mistakes. Learn from each wrong answer or attempt because that is what true growth looks like. Be willing to take chances and try new things. In doing so you will grow. And know that if it is truly easy, then you already know it. True learning is hard because it is new and it stretches you. Do not be afraid of that process. Know that everyone goes through it.”

Math teacher who made a difference

“There is one experience and teacher who stands out in my own learning journey. Mr. Barrington was one of my high school math teachers. He noticed that my off task disruptive nature was actually boredom. He took time to give me multiple different placement tests and walked me through some different math theories to place me in the class I truly needed to be in rather than the one my grade level dictated. In skipping several math classes, I was able to find a place where I was truly challenged and break the label I had been given of disruptive student. That experience shapes how I approach different learners within my own room.”


“I love having conversations with students and hearing them articulate their learning. Much of my classroom structure is small group or one on one meetings. Listening to students advocate for their learning and be active participants in designing their journey is the highlight of each day. Each pathway is unique to the individual, and I love that.”

Mom of seven, and a family that reads!

“I am a mom of seven, so my fun comes from watching each of them explore and enjoy the world. They are all incredibly different and unique people from the high schooler to the infant, so that is a very varied adventure. Something we all love doing though and often do together is read. We read to each other, listen to books at night or on drives, and talk about the books we’ve read. That is probably my greatest joy.”


“I am incredibly grateful for Amanda Adams and the CHAMPS Leadership Team. Amanda saw things in me and my classroom before I did. She encouraged me to step out of my classroom and become a teacher leader in the district. She encouraged me to take a role on the CHAMPS Leadership Team and that amazing group of educators has supported me in and out of the classroom. They have mentored and encouraged me while I step up to help mentor and encourage other educators.”

Alaska Department of Education and Early Development Commissioner Dr. Michael Johnson said, “Alaska’s Teacher of the Year finalists have been recognized by their peers as deserving of special recognition. We join them in celebrating the dedication of these four educators and also as an opportunity to thank all Alaskan teachers for their hard work.”

The Alaska Teacher of the Year and an alternate will be announced at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. The selected teacher will serve as Alaska’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year and will be able to participate in programs and activities with other State Teachers of the Year coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

A teacher at K-Beach Elementary School in Soldotna since 2019, Mrs. Baker has also taught at Nikiski North Star Elementary, and worked as a Migrant Ed STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) teacher and tutor. She earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Political Science from the University of Washington and a Master of Arts (MA) in Education with Elementary focus from the University of Southern California.


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Retirements: thank you for 10+ years with KPBSD

“As graduation ceremonies take place across the school district, I’m reflecting about how a graduation is not just a celebration for students and their families, but also a celebration of the tremendous amount of work that our staff contribute as district employees. Our students first come to us with various life situations and backgrounds, and from there, we strive to bring them forward to graduation. 

Our staff model appropriate behavior, kindness, patience, structure, academic rigor, and encourage student reflection and critical thinking. This all leads to a foundation of success for them as they leave our schools. Our students are ready for the challenges of life beyond their K-12 education because of our staff. So I especially thank every KPBSD employee for all they do and have done for our students, their families, and our communities. 

For everyone who will retire or resign this year, I wish you all the best and thank you for your years of service to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Our schools, students and communities are better for all that you have contributed to them. Enjoy your new adventures!”

– Superintendent Clayton Holland

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District appreciates the commitment and service these retiring employees contributed, each with ten or more years in the school district. Each of you has made a difference, THANK YOU!

  • Acela Carr, 33 years, Custodian I at Homer Middle School
  • Connie Todd, 33 years, Head Custodian II at Redoubt Elementary School
  • Connie Best, 30.5 years, Special Education Resource Aide at Soldotna High School
  • John Mills, 30 years, Intermediate Grade Teacher at Tustumena Elementary School
  • Gretchen Bagley, 29 years, Physical Education Teacher at K-Beach Elementary School
  • Sylvia Ingram, 29 years, Pool Manager at Seward High School
  • Lisa Atchley, 28 years, Primary Multi-Grade Teacher at Kaleidoscope Charter School
  • Lisa Gabriel, 28 years, Administrative Secretary to the Superintendent and Board of Education at District Office
  • Diane Buchanan, 27 years, Student Nutrition Services Supervisor at Student Nutrition Services
  • Rich Bartolowits, 25.5 years, Principal at Connections Homeschool
  • Christopher Perk, 25 years, Health Teacher and Athletic Director at Homer High School
  • William Vedders, 25 years, 3rd Grade Teacher at K-Beach Elementary School
  • Bob Ermold, 25 years, Student Support Services Coordinator at District Office
  • Jackie Kempf, 25 years, Speech Language Pathologist at Soldotna Elementary School & Soldotna Montessori Charter School
  • Heidi Vann, 25 years, Special Education Resource Teacher at Kenai Middle School
  • Anita LeDoux, 25 years, School Secretary III at Aurora Borealis Charter School
  • Elaine Chalup, 24 years, Intermediate Multi-Grade Teacher at Voznesenka School
  • James Carlson, 23.5 years, Career Technical Education Teacher at Soldotna High School & Kenai Central High School
  • Dawn Edwards-Smith, 23 years, Principal and Teacher at River City Academy
  • Thomas DeGray, 23 years, Generalist Teacher at River City Academy
  • Katherine Serge-Hoeschen, 22 years, Language Arts Teacher at Voznesenka School
  • Sherry Gladden, 21.5 years, Special Education Intensive Needs Aide at Redoubt Elementary School
  • Krista Etzwiler, 21 years, 3rd Grade Teacher at West Homer Elementary School
  • Saundra Choate-Hudson, 21 years, Health Teacher at Homer High School
  • Julie Nichols, 21 years, Administrative Secretary II at Connections Homeschool
  • Elizabeth McDermid, 21 years, Special Education Resource Aide at K-Beach Elementary School
  • Tracy Foister, 21 years, Special Education Intensive Needs Aide at Soldotna High School
  • Cecilia Deatherage, 20 years, Speech Language Pathologist at Seward Elementary School
  • Kien Wilkinson, 20 years, Head Custodian II at West Homer Elementary School
  • Mira Banic, 20 years, Food Service Manager I-S at Seward Middle School
  • Wendi Dutcher, 18 years, Generalist Teacher and Advisor at Connections Homeschool
  • Sheryl Oliver, 18 years, Food Service Cashier at Kaleidoscope School
  • Nadejda Reutov, 18 years, Custodian I at Voznesenka School
  • Michael Sellers, 17 years, Principal and Teacher at Nikolaevsk School
  • Loren Reese, 17 years, Principal and Teacher at Kenai Alternative High School
  • Lisa McDonal, 17 years, Special Education Resource Teacher at K-Beach Elementary School
  • Ricky Bush, 17 years, Head Custodian II at K-Beach Elementary School
  • Cheryl Romatz, 16.5 years, 3rd Grade Teacher at K-Beach Elementary School
  • Matt Widaman, 16 years, Career Technical Education Teacher at Secondary Education
  • David Justice, 16 years, Special Education Resource Teacher at Soldotna High School
  • Kimberly Christianson, 16 years, Food Service Manager I-S at Redoubt Elementary School
  • Charlotte Jackson, 16 years, Special Education Intensive Needs Aide at K-Beach Elementary School
  • Jill DuFloth, 15 years, Interim Principal at Skyview Middle School
  • Lisa Fellows, 15 years, School Counselor at Homer Middle School & Homer High School
  • Jennifer Waltenbaugh, 15 years, 2nd Grade Teacher at Paul Banks Elementary School
  • Adam Anders, 14 years, Physical Education & Health Teacher at Nikiski Middle-High School
  • Jan Darch, 14 years, 4th & 5th Grade Teacher at Kaleidoscope Charter School
  • Stephanie Jones, 14 years, School Secretary II at Nikolaevsk School
  • Anita Hakkinen, 13 years, Title I Interventionist at Redoubt Elementary School
  • Mark Wackler, 13 years, Generalist Teacher & Advisor at Connections Homeschool
  • Shanna Johnson, 13 years, Read 180 Teacher at Skyview Middle School
  • Yolanda Ifflander, 13 years, School Nurse (Itinerant) at Seward Area Schools
  • Jane Dunn, 12.5 years, Homeless Liaison at Homer Area Schools
  • Stanley Vogel, 12 years, Special Education Resource Aide at Central Peninsula Schools
  • Adam Dang, 11.5 years, Head Custodian I at Tustumena Elementary School
  • William Turley, 11.5 years, Head Custodian II at Seward High School
  • Pegge Erkeneff, 11 years, Director Communications, Community & Governmental Relations at District Office
  • Albert Plan, 11 years, Physical Education, Health Teacher and Athletic Director at Seward High School
  • Anne McCabe, 11 years, Student Success Liaison at Soldotna High School
  • Cristina Kilcher, 10.5 years, School Nurse at Nikolaevsk School
  • Nicole Stover, 10 years, Special Education Resource Teacher at Seward High School
  • Natali Jones, 10 years, Itinerant School Counselor at Nikolaevsk School

Learn about open positions, or how to substitute or volunteer in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District!

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Sterling Elementary Principal is 2022 Alaska AAESP National Distinguished Principal!

Principal Denise Kelly is the Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals National Distinguished Principal for 2022!

Soldotna, May 2, 2022—Presented with the award at a surprise assembly on May 2, 2022, with her family, school community, AAESP board members, and Kenai Peninsula Borough School District leaders in attendance, Principal Kelly entered the full gym for the surprise announcement and celebration. She was nominated and selected by her fellow principals for this distinguished recognition through a statewide search process conducted by the Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals.

“Sterling Elementary is a special place,” said KPSBD Superintendent Clayton Holland during the surprise award assembly. “When you walk into the building, you can feel the positive school culture and climate that exists in Sterling Elementary. You can tell that Sterling Elementary School is a place that staff and students want to be and that parents want to be a part of. Ms. Kelly has worked alongside her staff and school community to create this feeling. She will do anything and everything for her students and staff. … Ms. Kelly will represent the entire state of Alaska very well as their Nationally Distinguished Principal. We are all very proud of her and Sterling Elementary School.”

Principal Kelly said a favorite aspect to her work each day is to welcome students every morning when they arrive to school. “They are always so excited to see us, have stories to tell about their night, morning or weekend, and I get to be the first person at the school to call them by name and welcome them back to learning.” An important concern at Sterling Elementary is to “become as close to a zero waste school as we can.” She explains, “We recycle paper, cardboard, plastics and aluminum. We separate our food waste in our lunchroom so that less waste goes to the landfill. I believe that it is important to teach our students about preserving our community and ensuring that we leave it better than we have found it. We try to do our small part in preserving the world.”

Principal Kelly said, “This award makes me think of all of the hard work and dedication that all of our staff put into our school, students, and families every day. It makes me think of all of the times that we have been short staffed, particularly over the last three years and how there is always someone, or many someones who step up to fill voids. It is this community of learners and educators that have given me the ability to become who I am as an administrator. I am honored and humbled by this award. We never do what we do in education for recognition, but when one of us is recognized for our work, all of us are recognized! The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has world class educators at all of our schools!”

In 1998 Mrs. Kelly graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a dual major in elementary education and special education. She earned a Master of Arts Degree in Education Administration and Supervision from the University of Phoenix, and later received a Graduate Certificate in Restorative Practices from the International Institute of Restorative Practices in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She began her administrative career as an interim principal at Kilohana Elementary School in Kaunakakai, Hawaii, in 2009, she worked in Coeur d’Alene School District #271 in Idaho, and Tempe Elementary School District #3. After moving to Alaska in 2011, she started her career in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District as a districtwide Special Education program coordinator, then became the Sterling Elementary in 2014. She is currently in her eighth year as the principal at Sterling Elementary.

“This year alone, Ms. Kelly has stepped in to be the Intensive Needs Special Teacher, worked with all the support staff, and run meetings to meet the needs of all students,” said Superintendent Holland during the assembly. “She fills in everywhere needed. She has been seen early in the morning at school moving snow, or bringing her family in to clean the building when the custodian was out. Mrs. Kelly never complains about all that she has had to do, but rather jumps in and models for all of us to do what it takes to keep the school running and meet the needs of the entire school community. She does all of this while maintaining a focus on academics, meeting the social emotional development needs of her students, and providing support to her staff. In regard to her staff, one of her biggest accomplishments is working to surround herself with great staff!”

Principal Kelly believes in balancing leadership and management to make sure her students are surrounded by effective and caring people. She believes that the crux of leadership is motivating people and that leadership is shared amongst her school, and the larger, community. Assistant Superintendent Kari Dendurent said, “An important area is Denise’s character and community commitment through her dedication to the Social Emotional Learning for her students and staff demonstrated by earning her certification in Restorative Practices. This practice brings individuals to a cooperative and productive state through empowerment.”

Mrs. Kelly was a finalist for the Kindness Experience Award from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation in 2019 and received a Human Dignity Award from the Victory Over Violence Organization in 2010. She said, “I take pride in everything that I do. And everything that I do, I do for our students. There is not a student that I have had pass through Sterling Elementary that hasn’t stolen my heart. I love this community, and I cherish my position at our school.” Mrs. Kelly has volunteered at the Sterling Senior Center and Community Center.

Principal Kelly said, “I would like to thank so many people. I wish that my mom were alive to see how she has inspired me to think about kindness and compassion first. I would like to thank my family for always being supportive of the work that I do for Sterling Elementary–the time that I am away from home and the times that they have come to help at the school. I would like to thank our staff and students who are the heart of our school and the Sterling community. I would like to thank the families of Sterling for trusting me with their children every day. So many people to thank!”

Commissioner Michael Johnson reached out to say, “Congratulations Principal Kelly and thank you for being an example of citizenship for your students.” He added that Principal Kelly is, “not just a school leader, she also serves her community.”

Principal Kelly will travel to Washington D.C. in October 2022 for two days of activities planned to honor and bring well-deserved recognition to the elementary administrators selected by their respective states.

AAESP believes that Denise Kelly is well deserving of the National Distinguished Principals’ Award. We are proud to acknowledge her leadership and commitment to Alaska’s children representing Alaska’s elementary principals.


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Fireweed Academy Principal interviews

The final three candidate interviews for the new Fireweed Academy principal will be on Zoom, Wednesday, May 4, 2022, beginning at 6:00 PM. Everyone who participates will receive a survey link to provide audience input.

Zoom doors to the audience open for ten minutes at 3:00; 4:00; 5:00; 6:00; 7:00; and 8:00 PM

Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 835 7947 8933

Passcode: 088777

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National Teacher Appreciation Week!

“This week is National Teacher Appreciation week! I want to thank all of our teachers for their hard work and dedication to our students, their families, and our communities. The work you have done, and continue to do, is incredible and has made a huge impact on the future of our students. Because of your work, our district stands out as an example in the state of Alaska for all that can be good and positive in education. At a time when people tend to look and rally around the negative, our district and schools are able to continually show our communities and state the significant positive impact our teachers have in the lives of our students. I’m honored to work with our teachers as together we ensure our schools meet the needs of all of our student population in KPBSD. Thank you!”

-Superintendent Clayton Holland
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Celebrate School Principals

“Every year, May 1 is the official celebration date of National School Principal’s Day. This year, May 1, 2022, is on Sunday. The principals of the KPBSD are second to none, and I am thankful for all they do every day for our students and their families. Our principals are known throughout the State of Alaska for their innovation, effectiveness, and instructional leadership.

To our Principals, thank you so much for all that you do for your students, staff, families, schools, and communities. The positive relationships you build, the structure you provide, and the caring and compassionate approach that you bring to work every day makes a difference in meeting not only the academic, but the social and emotional needs of the lives that you are entrusted with serving. Thank you, and enjoy a wonderful weekend and National School Principal’s Day!”

– Superintendent Clayton Holland
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