Ms. Margaret Griffin awarded Golden Apple

Ms. Margaret Griffin, Soldotna High School
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Golden Apple Award | June 1, 2020

Ms. Margaret Griffin has been working in the education field for twenty-four years. She began teaching English, then earned her Master of Arts degree in School Counseling, moved to Soldotna, Alaska, and has been a school counselor for seventeen years, twelve of which were in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

“Margaret is one of the hardest working, most capable people that I have ever met. Her ability to pay attention to details, plan college and career trips, and parent nights is unbelievable. She has worked diligently to utilize different social media and advertising to get the word out about the events the Soldotna High School Counseling Department hosts. She managed to advertise our Postsecondary Planning night so well, that we had over 130 people in attendance. Her work ethic shines through on every task she takes on. She works through schedule changes until 11:00 p.m. at night, ensuring all of her students have schedules that work for them. On weekends, she can be found writing letters of recommendation, and making sure all the tasks are ready for the upcoming week. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) established RAMP to promote exemplary school counseling programs—and Margaret was instrumental for Soldotna High School to receive the national RAMP award! She put in 80 plus hours outside of data collection at school in order to create the RAMP application, awarded to Soldotna High School in 2018. She planned the schedule to work towards RAMP, and without her hard work and push to make Soldotna High School a nationally Recognized ASCA Model Program, it would not have happened.”

–Megan Murphy, Golden Apple nominator

Besides her incredible work ethic, Margaret is described as an incredible advocate for staff, students and parents. Nominator Megan Murphy writes, “I have witnessed Margaret take at risk students shopping to Fred Meyers to let them get needed items. Her advocacy extends to parents, staff, and students. She is someone the staff feels comfortable coming to with information they are not comfortable handling, or something they want to vent or share with her. Margaret knows how to listen and hear all sides. She is never someone to jump to a conclusion or make a judgement based on what she hears. When we debrief, her continual ability to talk through situations and see the whole picture is amazing. She provides a whole world sense when she talks with students, parents, and staff. She is able to talk to people where they are at in their lives, without making judgement, and provide support. Not every school counselor has this ability, and it is inspiring how much support and advocacy Margaret can provide, in such a well­ rounded manner.”

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

Mrs. Sharon Hale awarded Golden Apple

Mrs. Sharon Hale, Redoubt Elementary School
Golden Apple Award | June 1, 2020
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

“Mrs. Sharon Hale is an incomparable human who goes beyond her duties as if there were no other option,” said nominator Stephanie Belger. “She is the librarian aide at Redoubt Elementary, and the whole community knows her as much more. My own children remember Mrs. Hale as the one who ‘always made us tie our shoes and dresses up as Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat.’ She is known for many activities in our school that are developed, continued, and spearheaded by her. A part-time employee, she is constantly seen working over than weekend and later than many other staff because she cares about our school. She helps children connect with books so they can learn to love reading. She encourages every aspect of reading support—even with the teachers!”

Throughout the years Mrs. Hale has run the Scholastic Book Fair, the Sunshine Committee, the annual Walk Your Child to School activity, the school-wide fundraiser, the math and science night, family night activities throughout the year, the bike rodeo, and the Dr. Seuss and Love of Reading month.

This all is a tremendous feat but it is still shy of the whole picture. She reaches out to peers, students, and the community with even more passion. Mrs. Hale can always be found giving individuals what they need before they even know what they need! At every staff departure there is a special Mrs. Hale handmade gift. In addition, there is always one for new coming baby “Roadrunners” as well. She never misses an opportunity to help students with Forensics, Geo-Bee, Spelling Bee, and is known to spot children with books, games, and anything that will encourage them out of her own pocket. She is a substitute and jumps in for the other half of the day as much as possible when teachers are in need at a moment’s notice. Mrs. Hale loves helping others, even to helping student learn how to sew in Friday electives. Students can learn this wonderful trade and, staff call upon her on weekends to help with t-shirt quilts. She immediately gives of her time to assist with all the knowledge she has, and with her presence. Her outreach to the community is also long lasting. She has given decades to the CES fire family as a wife to a fire chief, stiches of love community projects, and Oiler’s baseball.

Mrs. Sharon Hale has been working in our school district since 1997, however she began volunteering at Redoubt Elementary in 1991. She has impacted the Redoubt community officially for 23 years and unofficially for 29. By the count, she has positively supported over thirteen thousand students, hundreds of teachers, and several administrators. Her leadership, service, and remarkable contributions to everyone will forever be remembered. In the words of the current administrator, Principal Bill Withrow, “When you look at the heartbeat and pulse of our school, Sharon Hale’s name is in all of it.”

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

Volunteer Red Asselin Martin awarded Golden Apple

Volunteer Red Asselin Martin receives Golden Apple award at Paul Banks Elementary during a Virtual Board of Education meeting

Ms. Red Asselin Martin, Paul Banks Elementary volunteer
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Golden Apple Award | June 1, 2020

“As the principal of Paul Banks Elementary in Homer, Alaska, I have witnessed firsthand the incredible resource that “Red” or Ms. Lisa Asselin Martin is for our school,” wrote nominator Eric Pederson. “She is a parent, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) president, Sprout partner, and community advocate, and emulates all of the qualities the Golden Apple award represents. In the three years I have worked with her, she has gone from active parent to school leader.”

–Nominator Eric Pederson, Paul Banks Elementary principal

Paul Banks Elementary has numerous activities throughout the school year such as fundraisers, movie nights, Bingo for Books, and the Scholastic Book Fair, and it does not take long to notice that Red is behind many of them. As the PTA president, she saw a need for afterschool childcare when we moved to an early start and dismissal—so she created our afterschool program. All kindergarten to second grade students are invited to participate, including our students with special needs. Because of her leadership and skill in recruiting community members to teach, students have been able to choose from a variety of activities, including sign language, Japanese, Legos, Zumba, Outdoor Explorers, and Sports Hour.

During the potential KPBSD staff strike last fall, Red assembled pop-up childcare for working parents, utilizing volunteers and church space, and coordinated with other schools. As a Birth to Three Sprout staff member, she collaborated with Paul Banks Elementary to provide a weekly open gym playgroup for children ages one to four. This has allowed many of our young students to arrive already being familiar with our school. Red teaches parenting classes open to the whole community that benefits our families.

Recently, Red organized and facilitated a State Education Budget 101 for our entire community. The event brought people from opposing fiscal viewpoints together where factual data was shared and everyone had a great discussion.

The Paul Banks Elementary staff shared the following descriptors for Red: “persistent, thoughtful, caring, persistent, compassionate, gracious, persistent, hilarious, approachable, supportive and PERSISTENT.” Principal Eric Pederson wrote, “Red is one of those parents who has made me a better and more thoughtful person and leader. Her support, innovation, and contribution to our school community will be dearly missed at Paul Banks Elementary when her child moves to West Homer Elementary for the August 2020 school year.”

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

Volunteer Red Asselin Martin receives Golden Apple award at Paul Banks Elementary during a Virtual Board of Education meeting

KPBSD 6.3.20 update: Survey | Strength | Safety

Q: What did you–youth and parents or guardians–experience during remote learning?

A: Tell KPBSD in a simple SURVEY for students, parents & guardians

How did the March to May remote learning work for you and your family? Your response will help KPBSD plan for a Smart Start for school in August. Our 20 person planning team is meeting several times a week, and you’ll hear more about that throughout June and July.
Your thoughts will assist: we’re at 1,400+ responses & the goal is 5,000+ by June 8, 2020. Kindly invest a few minutes to respond:

Sources of Strength Family Toolkit

Take a deep breath! We all have strengths, and your social and emotional health is important. Download a wonderful booklet with activities and resources for all ages. #WhatHelpsUs #KPBSDstrong

Safety: Create your COVID-19 Family Plan

Have you made your plan for what will happen if the caregiver or caregivers in the family become ill with COVID-19? Who is in your Circle Of Support? Download a helpful three-page resource to create or refine your plan.

Connect with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District throughout the summer. Call during office hours 907-714-8888. Visit the website for online registration, and regular updates about COVID-19, and the KPBSD planning and response.

Sources of Strength Family Toolkit

Sources of Strength

Dear KPBSD Families, Students, and Staff,

Take a deep breath.

It is very important to keep doing this. Breathing in and out. So many things have changed in the Spring of 2020, and transitions are hard.

KPBSD offers you these tools to help you navigate the transitions you are facing. Sources of Strength is a public health program that 14 of our KPBSD schools currently offer for their students. Sources of Strength focuses on promoting mental health and building protective factors that increase connection, coping, resiliency and wellness.

We all have strength!

Our Sources of Strength programs help teams of students and school staff identify what strengths they have in their lives to help them move through the ups and downs of life. The Sources of Strength Wheel is composed of eight categories that we can draw strength from: Family Support, Positive Friends, Mentors, Healthy Activities, Generosity, Spirituality, Physical Health and Mental Health. These strengths are powerful strengths that help us build resilience and health relationships.

We all have mental health.
How we cope, calm and connect when we experience feelings and emotions are what creates our mental health. We can use our strengths to support our mental health. It is possible for us to not just survive, but thrive in our new reality. These resources provide you check-ins, activities for exploring emotions, conversation starters, and practices for you and for the student in your household to calm, to cope and to connect.

These activities and resources are from elementary schools, middle schools, and high school programs. Feel free to modify them however works best for you. Start your day with a check-in. Take the emotional temperature in your home and find out how everyone is doing. End your day with thankfulness, naming things that you are grateful for. Share these resources with your friends and neighbors, and together let’s practice #WhatHelpsUs. Share posts on social media and hashtag #WhatHelpsUs and #KPBSDstrong


Your KPBSD Sources of Strength Champions

Connect – let’s be social!

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

Facebook: @KPBSD

Twitter: @KPBSD

Instagram: @KenaiPeninsulaSchools

Sources of Strength @SourcesOfStrength

Posted in Sources of Strength by Pegge Erkeneff. No Comments

Principal Eric Pederson, named Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals 2020 National Distinguished Principal

Superintendent John O’Brien said, “I am so proud that one of our principals received this prestigious national honor when the Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals selected Eric Pederson as the Alaska National Distinguished Principal for 2020! Congratulations to Eric and the entire Paul Banks Elementary School learning community—this recognition is so well deserved!”

Nominated and selected for this recognition by principals through a statewide search process conducted by the Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals, they wrote in a press release, “Pederson is a true leader in the profession in the state. He has served on the Alaska Association of Elementary School Executive Board since 2018 and is the current board president. In this role, Eric represented Alaska principals in both Washington DC and Juneau as an advocate for students. He has also served on the Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) board during this time. Outside of school, Pederson has served on the Kenai Borough Legislative Committee, the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee, and the Alaska Council of the Arts. Eric was nominated for the Life Changer of the Year Award as well as the LKSD Teacher of the Year. During the COVID 19 Pandemic, Pederson has stepped up as an educational leader across the state. He is working to make sure that the principal voice is heard and that, as a state, we are making the best decisions possible for our staff and students. Eric believes strongly that a positive school atmosphere is paramount in the overall success. He strives to be present for staff, students, and the community at all times. He will only support new initiatives that add to this atmosphere. He also sees making the community a better place as part of his job as a principal. This past year he started a “Dudes and Donuts” event that allowed fathers to network with one another. Pederson’s job does not end at the close of school each day.”

About Principal Eric Pederson, in his words

Influences – “my principalship is a product of Alaska”

“There are many people to thank for influencing my career path. First my wife and family—this job is a family affair and they have been incredibly supportive and encouraging. My Paul Banks staff! I have had the privilege to work side by side with some of the best teachers in the profession, and I have learned so much from them. Finally, my principalship is a product of Alaska. I have been blessed with incredible leadership throughout my career from my education at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) to the statewide new principal mentorship program to my work in the Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD) and the KPBSD. There are amazing people in this state who have had an impactful presence in my life, too many to mention.”

Best part from A Day In The Life of this elementary school principal

I am a morning person and I absolutely love greeting students in the morning. I get high-fives and the latest news about students’ fishing reports, pet reports, moose sightings, upcoming trips to visit grandparents, etc. The energy and eagerness of learning at this age group level is inspiring. Rain or shine it is the highlight of my day. If you ever need a pick me up feel free to meet me in the parking lot at 7:30 a.m.”

The COVID challenge and inspiration

“The way this school year ended was challenging to say the least. I know we relied a lot on our families and used up a significant amount of trust capital we had built with them. A positive outcome of the Covid-Crisis was being part of our schools’ Care Team, who worked with the PTA to provide a lot of support to our families both emotionally and financially. Many of our families were caught in a financial pinch without work and students at home. The strength of our relationships with families was on full display as we shifted conversations from learning academics to the more basic Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It was very inspiring to work side by side with these people. It’s the type of work that makes you want to get up a little earlier and stay a little later every day.”

A Growth Mindset

“Those of you who know me well, know that I am very qualified to be a principal solely based on the amount of time I spent in the principal’s office as a child. I probably would advise my younger self to be more grateful to my parents who did not give up on me.”

Final words

“Trust is so important. This school year we have had to rely on our parents and families like never before. Many of our schools were very successful when dealing with the remote learning mandate because our relationships we built with families was steeped in trust. I have always viewed the taxpayer as my ultimate boss. I would like everyone to know that we are diligently working to make sure we have an effective and safe environment for next school year.”

Excerpt from the Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals Press Release:
The Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals is proud to announce our National Distinguished Principal for 2020 is Eric Pederson, Principal of Paul Banks Elementary School in Homer, Alaska. The 2020 National Distinguished Principal Celebration marks the 36th year that the National Association of Elementary School Principals has presented this prestigious award.

Pederson graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota with a Bachelor’s Degree, he then added a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Eric began his administrative career as a principal at Kuinerrimuit Elitnaurviat School in Quinhagak, Alaska in 2007 and moved to Homer in 2013 where he has served as the principal at Paul Banks Elementary since that time.

Pederson will travel to Washington DC in October 2020 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 Eric Pederson is well deserving of the National Distinguished Principals’ Award. We are proud to acknowledge his leadership and commitment to Alaska’s children representing Alaska’s elementary principals.

The NAESP’s National Distinguished Principal ® (NDP) program was established in 1984 to recognize elementary and middle level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for the students, families, and staffs in their learning communities.

For more information:

Jennifer Schmitz, Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals Executive Director 

Lynn Mayberry, Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals Vice President/NDP Chair

Pegge Erkeneff, KPSBD Director of Communications, Community, and Government Relations

Students and Parents: Remote Learning Survey Invitation

Planning for the future: What is the remote learning experience from the KPBSD student, parent, and guardian perspective? #survey

When health mandates closed 42 schools on the Kenai Peninsula to students this spring, KPBSD shifted to remote learning for students. We’ve all learned and experienced a lot, and want to capture the learnings. To both reflect, and help the school district plan for an August smart school start, parents and high school students are asked to complete a brief online survey.

–May 20, 2020 KPBSD News Release

The SURVEY will take approximately five minutes to complete, and is open through June 5, 2020.

  • Students in grades 9-12 are encouraged to respond to this survey
  • Parents or guardians are asked to reply on behalf of their students in grades K-8
  • Families with more than one child are invited to respond once for each child enrolled in KPBSD

“There are many uncertainties about what the start of school will look like in August. To help prepare for those uncertainties, The KPBSD has a working group of 20 members that are planning for the start-up of the next school year, and your responses will assist us.”

–Clayton Holland, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction

A separate survey for KPBSD staff is happening simultaneously to the parent and student survey.


Posted in Survey by Pegge Erkeneff. No Comments

Virtual Job Fair via Facebook Live is May 12, 2020

For 90 minutes on Tuesday, May 12th, tap into the Alaska Teacher Placement Virtual Job Fair (VJF) with guest Kenai Peninsula Borough School District! Join us from 3:30-5:00 PM AST, Tuesday. May 12, 2020.

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Virtual Job Fair
Host (s): Kevin Downs, Student Support Services Program Coordinator and Sarge Truesdell, Principal, Skyview Middle School, and backup crew ready to respond to your questions and comments during the live stream event.
When: Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 3:30-5:00 pm AST (7:30 – 9:00 pm EDT)
Time Zone Conversion: (Click here to convert event time!)
How to Participate: ATP Facebook Page

KPBSD Hosts during the Virtual Job Fair
Kevin Downs has been an educator in Alaska for twenty-two years. The first four years were in Point Hope, Alaska, working with the North Slope Borough School District. Since then, he has continued his career working with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District going on eighteen years—six as a middle school special education teacher, and twelve as a special education program coordinator at the district level. He thoroughly enjoys his time as an educator in Alaska, and finds KPBSD to be an incredible place to work, and the Kenai Peninsula itself, to be an amazing place to raise children and grow strong roots as a family.

Sarge Truesdell has worked in the KPBSD as a teacher, coach, and administrator for twenty-two years. Nine of those years were as a middle school teacher, four as an assistant principal, and he has been a middle school principal for nine years now. Sarge says the Kenai is an amazing place to work, live, raise our family, and play.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is especially interested in chatting on the ATP Facebook page with teachers, counselors, and administrators about the following openings:

Valuable links:

The Facebook Live is a great opportunity to connect directly to the HR decision makers with our school district. Bring your questions, and tune into the ATP Facebook Live stream. This event will be recorded for archived viewing.
KPBSD is not able to sponsor foreign teachers for H1 or J1 visas.

“I am thrilled that you are considering employment with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District! We are located in a beautiful part of southcentral Alaska and one of the more unique and progressive districts in our great state. Our schools, ranging in size from a K-8 building of 16 to a traditional high school of 600, offer our students a strong education that prepares them for life after graduation. The 1,200 KPBSD dedicated staff members are committed to continuous improvement that embraces our strategic plan goals in academic success, organizational excellence, and community and family engagement. Should you work with us, you will be joining an exciting and successful team of top notch educators who do what it takes to help our students find success.”

–John O’Brien, Superintendent of Schools

“I will be watching live and responding to questions in the comment thread during the Facebook Live Virtual Job Fair, together with Laurie Wood, our human resources recruitment specialist. We are excited that you are interested in our school district and may potentially join our phenomenal team of educators!

Our diverse K-12 district is a leader in Alaska and at the forefront to support our teachers’ instruction—especially in this new time of remote learning. We strive, every day, to prepare our students for their future in a rigorous, relevant and responsive learning environment. Our students perform at or near the top in any standardized test required of them. They are creative thinkers and problem solvers. Our staff focus is to enhance student skills in critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity through personalized learning. This focus only happens in a culture of continuous improvement with high expectations of staff. Our school district makes a commitment to meet these high expectations through professional development for our staff, and ongoing striving to be an innovative, world class school district.

–Pegge Erkeneff, KPBSD Director of Communications, Community, and Government Relations

About the District

The Kenai Peninsula is 25,600 square miles, with 17 distinct communities, and 42 schools. You’ll find neighborhood schools, village schools, a home school program, charter schools, K-12 small schools, and a performance based school. An estimated 58,522 (2018) residents live on the Kenai Peninsula. Southcentral Alaska offers year-round outdoor adventure, mild summers, and relatively warm winters. You can live near glaciers, on salt water, rivers, or lakes. Outdoor activities are plentiful and include fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, canoeing, clamming, birding, berry picking, wildlife viewing, ice skating, sled dog mushing, and more! Art, music, native culture, sports, wildlife centers, and museums are integral parts of the diverse Kenai Peninsula communities. Local industry includes oil and gas, a vibrant medical community, commercial and sport fisheries. The climate is mild in contrast to the interior and northern Alaska. Our winters last a month or two longer than the Lower 48. December temperatures average in the mid 20’s, and our summers are brilliant, with nearly 24-hour sunlight, and a lush, green landscape.

Located south of Anchorage, nothing about the Kenai is formal or stuffy. In fact, no other destination offers such an up close and personal Alaskan experience. That’s why we are known as Alaska’s Playground! This map shows links to a detailed Google Map view of the 42 KPBSD school locations.

Important Alaska Job Search Links
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District website:
Open positions in the KPBSD

ATP Website & Applitrack Job Bank
Education job postings from all Alaska school districts!

ATP Forum – Ask Questions & Search Advice

Facebook Live Streaming Event Format
You will need a free Facebook account to actively participate in ATP’s Live Chats. Once you create that account, you can use it to log in and ask the presenters questions. Anyone can watch the video stream, and observe the chat. If you would like to ask a question or introduce yourself, it is very easy to sign into the comment or post your reactions in real time.

ATP Live Chat on Facebook

Posted in KPBSD employees by Pegge Erkeneff. 1 Comment

Positive Friendships. What’s your SOS?

Positive friendships

Watch the Sources of Strength Video

Skyview Middle School: Sources of Strength mentors and trusted adults

Be social: check your camera roll and share, or take a new photo if you can practice physical distancing! #sos #SourcesofStrength #SourcesatSkyview #SOSinvite #KPBSDStrongerTogether #WhatHelpsUs #SOSmentor #FamilyStrength

Skyview Middle School, Soldotna Alaska

Trusted Mentors

Mentor Mysteries “Wanted Posters” in a Month of Mentors!

To highlight Skyview Middle School mentors, the Sources of Strength team sent students on a mystery to determine the WHO in the wanted-poster mentors for the week!

The investigation and mystery encouraged students to connect with mentors, ask them questions about their likes and interests, and find similarities between themselves and Skyview Middle School mentors. Students who could figure out all three wanted-posters each week were entered into a raffle for prizes. This was our coolest #sos campaign we did this school year!

Family Support

Many of us feel stuck in problems and it is hard to see the solution. Sometimes getting unstuck is simple when we have some strategies, techniques, or help. During Covid19 we feel like we are “stuck” at home, when really, we can and have built on the strength of our Family Support! Skyview Middle School students learned the Yarn Knot Game this year, which can really assist especially now!

Connect with Skyview Middle School on Facebook or their new Instagram
Don’t miss the Quarantine Kindness Challenge Ideas!

Sources of Strength is in 12 KPBSD schools: eight high schools, three middle schools, and one K-12 school.

A strength-based comprehensive wellness program focusing on suicide prevention, Sources of Strength also addresses substance abuse, violence, resiliency, and relationships. Teams of peer leaders mentored by adult advisors change peer social norms about seeking help, and encourage students to individually assess and develop positive strengths in their life.