STEPS Alaska Updates
Stepping Up for Alaska's Youth!
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Professional Learning and Development in Southeast
Educators from around the state attending professional development hosted by SEL coordinator, Heather Coulehan.
"I don’t have time," or "I have so much to do already," can be heard by many educators and professionals when considering how to incorporate new ideas or practices into their work. Professional development can seem like an inconvenience or a trade-off when there is so much to do already. However, research shows that we are unlikely shift either our thinking or practices without on-going learning and reflection.
With much of our STEPS work focused on shifting mindsets and practices within family partnership, restorative practices, cultural responsiveness, and effective transitions for students and families, STEPS partners are often thinking about what are the most effective opportunities for learning, practice, and reflection.
STEPS partners are offering trainings, learning cohorts for reflection, and mixed professional learning opportunities that include both the community and the school.
The articles below highlight some of the practices that STEPS partners are using for professional learning. 
Professional Development We Like!
2020 Alaska RTI/MTSS Effective Instruction Conference

The 2020 Alaska RTI/MTSS Effective Instruction Conference was held last month in Anchorage, and was organized through the Alaska Staff Development Network. We had several AASB staff members and STEPS partners attend and present at this amazing professional development opportunity, including Heather Coulehan and Michelle Byer. There was a treasure trove of workshops covering SEL supports, school leadership, pedagogy/instruction, and more!

Please click the link below to read more about Michelle's takeaways from this conference!
Some Takeaways from the Learning Forward Conference

For years, AASB's SEL coordinator, Heather Coulehan, had heard that the Learning Forward national conference was one of the most useful professional learning opportunities focused on professional learning out there. After attending the December 2019 conference, she believes this is true!  

Learning Forward is the national organization that builds educators’ knowledge and skills to lead and sustain effective professional learning. Their learning programs provide strategies and tools to strengthen learning systems and build capacity at all levels. Learning forward offers professional learning standards and ideas on how to build learning communities.

Please click the link below to learn more about the professional skills Heather was able to take away from this conference, and an example of a discussion-facilitating activity that you can use in your own workplace.
Professional Development through Peer Learning

Professional development doesn’t always require expensive out-of-town speakers or long-distance travel to conferences. Since 2016, the Juneau School District has been strengthening its teaching team from within through the Artful Teaching program. This fall, the district began applying the same model to its efforts to infuse place-based learning into the classroom.

Please click the link below to learn more about the Artful Teaching program and its growth over the last few years!
STEPS Annual Partner Meeting

Apr. 27 - Apr. 28 in Juneau

Please join AASB staff and fellow STEPS partners across Southeast Alaska for our annual STEPS Partner Meeting at the JACC in Juneau.

School districts, non-profits, and tribal entities will come together to discuss collaborative strategies for improving student outcomes in our region. Please email in the link below for more information!

More logistical information will be released as it gets closer to April.

Around the STEPS Community
Check out upcoming events and resources occurring within STEPS!
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
Professional Learning Communities, or PLCs, are an amazing resource for professional development, sharing of best practices, and collaborating with people in the education field. Learning happens effectively across peers. STEPS offers learning communities to brainstorm, trouble-shoot, and share learning among STEPs partners. Please contact the people below if you would like to be a part of these PLCs:
Family Engagement PLC

The Family Engagement Professional Learning Community (PLC) is a collective group of family engagement coordinators learning and sharing with each other about effective community and family building practices. Our Family Engagement Coordinators support one another by developing their plans together in person and by teleconference. Together they are aiming to help students be more successful in school and life with the support from within school and at home. To join this PLC, please contact Lisa Worl at
STEPS Post-Secondary Guidance Group

The STEPS Post-Secondary Guidance Group is a chance for those who may be playing some type of guidance role to learn from each other and hear about upcoming opportunities. The conversations have included school guidance counselors, administrative staff, and those who are providing to support to students in less formal roles. The group currently meets by zoom on the last Tuesday of the month during the school year at 11 AM. Contact Emily Ferry to be added to these call announcements.
STEPS Early Childhood Work Group

The STEPS Early Childhood Work Group is currently focused on developing shared messaging campaign designed to promote best baby brain building practices among families and caregivers. The group has developed guiding principles for their work. In addition to implementing an effective campaign that will echo the messages heard in parenting courses and elsewhere, the work group is also hoping to receive training that will build their communication skills. Contact Emily Ferry if you’d like to learn more. 
Social-Emotional Learning/Trauma-Engaged PLC

Champions transforming schools through social emotional learning and trauma engaged practice participate in this learning community. Dates for second semester are Tuesdays Feb 25, Mar 10, Mar 31, Apr 14, May 5 from 3:45-5 PM. The focus this semester is Challenges to Solutions with champions sharing what is working well, challenges and support for solutions. Please contact Heather Coulehan at to join the conversation!
Cultural Integration PLC (Coming Soon!)

Culturally Responsive instruction seeks to effectively teach students by acknowledging and utilizing students’ cultural knowledge in classroom instruction. The range of culturally responsive instruction can include place-based and cultural content. Teachers within the STEPS community schools will be working in smaller groups or cohorts to develop culturally responsive curriculum together in the coming year through guidance of Dr. Zaretta Hammond and through peer learning and support of the STEPS school districts. You may contact Lisa Worl at to learn more about this working group.
Tlingit and Haida Language Instruction PLC

A focused cultural integration group of Tlingit and Haida language teachers and speakers working and supporting one another around developing curriculum scope and sequence as well as addressing the systemic supports the teachers and the families need in the language revitalization efforts. This group includes a variety of Tlingit and Haida speakers, teachers from pre-school, K-12 and post-secondary throughout the STEPS communities. STEPS is providing support to the group through convening and facilitating the work set by the group. To learn more, please contact Lisa Worl at
Upcoming Events
2020 Innovation Summit

Feb. 26 - Feb. 27 at Centennial Hall in Juneau

The Juneau Economic Development Council will be hosting its annual Innovation Summit on Feb. 26-27 in Juneau. In addition to hosting workshops about entrepreneurship, there will be valuable presentations on education. The keynote speaker will be Edward Clapp, researcher with Project Zero at Harvard University.

Participatory Creativity with Edward Clapp

Feb. 28 at Thunder Mountain High School in Juneau

Project Zero researcher Edward Clapp will provide a counter-narrative
to the traditional western creativity story by reframing invention and
innovation as a participatory and distributed process. Participants will
consider an understanding of creativity as an educational experience
students participate in, rather than something someone has or is. This free presentation will be introduced by Anthony Mallott, CEO of the Sealaska Corporation, and will be held in the TMHS auditorium from 5:30-7:00 PM.

Edward Clapp, researcher with Project Zero
6th Annual Alaska CAN! Conference

Feb. 27 - Feb. 28 at Marriott Anchorage Downtown

The 6th Annual Alaska CAN! Conference will be held in Anchorage on Feb. 27-28. Representatives from Alaska agencies, Native organizations, private industry, school districts, and other institutions will be gathering in order to discuss this year's theme: educational equity. Alaska CAN! is better known as the driving force behind the "65 by 2025" initiative, which aims to have 65% of Alaskans attaining a post-secondary credential by 2025. Please click the links below for more information and to register for the conference.

AEYC Early Learning Symposium

Mar. 12 - Mar. 14 at Centennial Hall in Juneau

AEYC-SEA is sponsoring an early learning symposium in conjunction with the Juneau STEM Coalition, Thread, Central Council of Tlingit & Haida, and JEDC. The theme is STEAM: Curiosity Unleashed, and is centered around science education for early learners. Activities will include professional development seminars and a screening of Molly of Denali! Scholarships and university credit is available for certain participants. Please click the links below to get more information and register.

2020 Beyond Consequences Summer Trauma-Informed School Conference

Jun. 30 - Jul. 1 in St. Charles, MO

Hoonah City Schools superintendent, Ralph Watkins, is interested in the Beyond Consequences Insitute for this comprehensive two-day trauma-informed conference that is designed for educators, school administrators, school personnel, mental health professionals, and community partners. This conference will give you the understanding, knowledge, and tools you need to successfully create a trauma-informed learning environment, whether it is in a single classroom, a whole school, or an entire district. Please click the link below to register and get more information.

The Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators 2020

Jul. 13 - Jul. 18 at Clark Kerr Campus in UC Berkeley

A team from Juneau School District is planning on attending this institute, which notes that research is unequivocal: The secret to success in social-emotional learning, mindfulness, character, and other pro-social human development programs is YOU—the adult. Therefore, this five-day workshop/retreat focuses on deepening your knowledge, practice, and personal growth in these areas.

The Greater Good Science Center helps participants create a safe learning environment for questioning beliefs, assumptions, values, and practices around well-being for ourselves and our students. Then they explore how to integrate this science into school DNAs (school relationships, adult self-care, school climate, academic content).

You will leave empowered with cutting-edge, science-based strategies, tools, and processes to help cultivate learning environments in which all students, faculty, and staff thrive. Please click the links below to register and get more information about this conference!

Family Engagement in Education: Creating Effective Home and School Partnerships for Student Success

Jul. 20 - Jul. 23 in Boston, MA

Last summer, members of JSD and AASB staff attended this institute. Family engagement is critically important to student achievement, but while most educators recognize its importance, they need opportunities to develop particular skills, knowledge, and dispositions to effectively integrate families into the life of the school.

This four-day institute convenes educators and school leaders from around the world who delve into research on family engagement and learn how to align family engagement initiatives with standards-based reform. You will participate in plenary sessions and small working groups where you can dig deeper into topics relevant to your interests or community. Topics discussed in past institutes have included home visits, outreach to fathers, balancing privilege and power, race in family engagement, and finding sustainable funding for family engagement. Please click the links below in order to register and get more information.

2020 Upstander Academy

Aug. 2 - Aug. 7 in Boston, MA

The Upstander Academy is an amazingly valuable professional development opportunity for educators who want to challenge indifference to injustice and raise awareness of the need for upstanders, especially among teachers and their students. According to the Upstander Project, an "upstander" is the antonym of a bystander; someone who will actively stand up to bigotry and social injustice. The Upstander Academy consists of educator workshops, original documentaries, and sharing of learning resources, and will also include a trip to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center on sacred tribal land. Please click the links below to register and learn more about this event.

Culturally Responsive Education Conference

Aug. 6 - Aug. 8 in Juneau

The Through the Cultural Lens program offered through Sealaska Heritage Institute will culminate in a conference in August. This is a requirement for participants of the Through the Cultural Lens program. The keynote speaker for this conference will be none other than Zaretta Hammond, author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain. Zaretta recently did an interview where she talked about Coaching for Instructional Equity, which will be the topic of her upcoming book. We’re doing some planning with her to provide some instructional professional development with our STEPS partners.

The links to the interview and flyer for Through the Cultural Lens are posted below. This event is only open to Juneau School District faculty and staff.

Zaretta Hammond, keynote speaker for the "Thru the Cultural Lens" Conference!
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Resources and Trainings
AEYC Juneau's Parents as Teachers Program is Accepting New Participants!

The Parents As Teachers program is now accepting moms who are expecting. If you know of parents in Juneau who are expecting to deliver between April and June of 2020 please refer them so they can be part of this new initiative. And if you know of any parents of kids between 0 and 3 who could use some extra support, please encourage them to apply for the program as well.

Please contact Emily Thompson if you have any questions, 789-1235 extension 103. The referral form for this program is also available through the link below!

Community Dialogue Host Training

Please join AWARE, the Juneau Violence Prevention Coalition, Association of Alaska School Boards on March 14th and 15th at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. Food, family and wholehearted conversations will take place.

As a part of the host training, hosts will have an opportunity to work on practicing general dialogue hosting skills and will have an opportunity to develop ideas and flows for specific dialogues you may host on (racial equity, topically focused, community or education-centered dialogues).

Space is limited and we are inviting leaders like yourself interested in receiving this training to support and guide your leadership to host community conversations and together create community driven solutions.  Anyone attending must be ready to help hold leadership through community conversations. Childcare is provided- but requests must be made in advance. 

Please contact Konrad Frank in the link below to sign up for this training opportunity.
Meet Our New Community Engagement Educator!
Tyler Breen comes to AASB as a Community Engagement Educator after having spent the last seven years working in education and environmental conservation throughout Latin America. He worked with students in Paraguay as a Peace Corps volunteer, lead high school student groups through the Dominican Republic, and recently taught undergraduate study abroad courses in Costa Rica. During his time in Latin America, Tyler grew a deep appreciation for experiential education and the role of community in driving projects forward. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz and a Master’s of Development Practice from Emory University.
What Makes the BARR Program Effective in Helping Ninth Graders in Virtually Every Type of School? 
Tara Mathewson, The Hechinger Report

No matter where a school starts, the BARR model seems to make it better, and it does so without hiring all new teachers, transforming the school curriculum, or spending a lot of money. Read more about the BARR model in the link below.

Kyle Worl recognized for his dedication to youth
KINY Radio

Traditional games athlete and coach Kyle Worl and former Juneau city manager Kevin Ritchie were chosen for the state’s “Southeast Champions for Kids” award this year. Click the link below to see the entire story!

Kyle Worl and Kevin Ritchie accepting their "Southeast Champion for Kids" awards!
Supporting Transitions and Educational Promise is a Collective Impact effort between regional partners and partners in Angoon, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Juneau, Klukwan, Sitka, and Yakutat which strives to improve outcomes for Southeast Alaska’s youth. We aim to do that by:
  • Ensuring that all kids - from womb to world - are safe and supported in their schools, homes, and communities
  • Partnering to smooth transitions, fill gaps, and align existing resources
  • Collaborating to move the needle on key measures

STEPS Alaska is made possible by the US Department of Education Promise Neighborhoods funding award to the Association of Alaska School Boards
The US Department of Education Promise Neighborhood Grant U215N170038 supports cradle to career solutions for the STEPS AK partners. This publication is the sole responsibility of the Association of Alaska School Boards and its contributors.