STEPS Alaska Updates
Stepping Up for Alaska's Youth!
Previous Newsletters
Promoting Cultural Integration in Alaska
Participants at the Native Language Gathering in Ketchikan last month!
One of the most important aspects of place-based learning is cultural integration, which is the theme of this month's newsletter. We highlighted some great examples of culturally-relevant work that is being done by educators across Southeast, as well as some upcoming events/resources addressing this topic.

Please read our newsletter and consider taking advantage of the many place-based education resources/opportunities that are happening in Southeast!
Partner Highlights
STEPS Community Overview
Lingít and X̱aat Kíl Language Teachers and Speakers Working together on Curriculum Scope and Sequence
Recently we brought together AASB STEPS partners Tlingit Haida Central Council, University of Alaska Southeast, Sealaska Heritage Institute and Hoonah, Hydaburg, Sitka, Juneau, and Yakutat School Districts along with Lower Kuskokwim School District, Goldbelt Inc. and Ketchikan Indian Community to share and to work together on Native language scope and sequence curriculum development.

Please check out the link below to read more about our experiences in Ketchikan, as well as quotes and pictures from language gathering attendees!
Baby Raven Reads in Hydaburg
Baby Raven Reads is an award-winning program hosted through Sealaska Heritage Institute which provides culturally-relevant early literacy/school readiness curricula for Alaska Native students from ages 0-5. The program started in Juneau, but is expanding to many other communities in Southeast Alaska! Baby Raven Reads continue to grow and has more than 350 children enrolled throughout Southeast Alaska. From 2018-2019 we mailed nearly 6,000 books to families. Time spent reading has increased, with 70% of families saying they read more.

Most recently, enrollment for Baby Raven Reads has opened up in Hydaburg! SHI—in partnership with Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) Head Start program—will offer the three-year program in Juneau, Angoon, Craig, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Petersburg, Saxman, Sitka, Wrangell and Yakutat through 2020. If you are Alaska Native and have a child between the ages of 0-5 please check the link below to register your child for this amazing program.
Young learners reading Baby Raven Reads publications!
Boys Run I toowú klatseen in Sitka
Boys Run is a companion to the successful nation-wide program, Girls on the Run, which is operated through SAFV (Sitkans Against Family Violence). Girls on the Run has a curriculum aimed towards instilling young girls with an appreciation for physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, which culminates in a 5K run at the end of the program.

Similarly, Boys Run is a ten-week program for elementary-aged boys with a curriculum composed of running, discussion, and culturally based activities that honor Southeast Alaska's traditional values. Ideally, participants will gain the skills they need to build healthy relationships and create a community of respect for self and others.

Boys Run is uniquely Southeast (active in Kake, Sitka, and Juneau), and incorporates culturally-relevant programming for the boys who participate. Please check the link below to see a video of one of our teams learning a Tlingit song from Elder Leona Santiago!
School Climate and Connectedness Survey Opening Soon!
The 2020 School Climate and Connectedness Survey is opening for families statewide on January 20th! Participating districts should receive their Family Survey links on Jan. 13th (if they signed up for the Family Survey), and the rest of the survey links will be released a week before the student/staff surveys open for that district. Each district should have a district coordinator who can take point on the SCCS, and each site should have someone who will remind staff about the survey.

This year, we are expanding the Family Survey window from Jan. 20-Mar. 20 so that we can maximize the number of responses from participants. Additionally, participants can now take the SCCS in English, Spanish, Tagalog, Hmong, and Samoan.

Why is the SCCS so critical for our work, especially regarding cultural integration? Using the SCCS data, we can identify areas of growth in our communities. For example, for the question: "My school values the language and culture of students’ families/My school values the language and culture of my family," the staff response was 83%, but the student response was only 56%. This indicates some cultural disconnect between our teachers and our students. Therefore, the SCCS is critical for informing our work!

If you have any questions or need any more information, please contact your district coordinator or Jenni Lefing at the link below.
More Info
End-of-Year STEPS Survey
Thanks to all who have already taken our end of the year STEPS survey. According to the survey it currently looks like the best dates for our STEPS annual spring gathering are April 21st, 22nd, or 23rd. If you haven’t had a chance to take the survey yet, we’ll leave it open of one more week.

Click the link below to get your votes in. We’re also curious if those who are planning to attend would prefer to meet in Sitka or Juneau. No promises either way, but if you have a strong opinion please let us know by answering the survey or dropping us a line at
Around the STEPS Community
Check out upcoming events and resources occurring within STEPS!
Upcoming Events
Indigenous Language Revitalization Lecture Series

Jan. 15 - Feb. 12 at the Walter Soboleff Building in Juneau

Sealaska Heritage will offer a series focused on Indigenous language revitalization efforts, presented by scholars and professionals working in the field. This lecture series will be free to language/education professionals and language students who are interested in attending. The topics of this series will not only pertain to Southeast, but will also feature Hawaiian revitalization advocates for a comparative perspective. All lectures will start at 5PM in the Walter Soboleff Building. Please click the links below for specific dates and more information!

Through the Cultural Lens

Jan. 25 - May 2 in Juneau

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is recruiting elementary school teachers, support staff and administrators to participate in its annual cultural orientation program, which aims to incorporate Native world views into schools and promote cross-cultural understanding. The program, Thru the Cultural Lens, provides 50 hours of cultural orientations, which culminate in an education conference that draws nationally-known keynote speakers and experts in culturally-responsive education.

Through the program, participants earn a stipend upon completion of all requirements and have the option of earning three continuing education credits through the University of Alaska Southeast. There is also a "Thru the Cultural Lens" conference happening in August that is required for participants of this program. Please click the links below to register and to find specific dates for lectures.

Navigators Scholarship Workshop

Jan. 25 at the Vocational Training and Resource Center in Juneau

The Tlingit & Haida Navigators program is having a scholarship workshop on Jan. 25 from 11 AM - 4 PM at the Vocational Training and Resource Center in Juneau. Tribal citizens (up to age 24) are welcome to RSVP, and will be able to participate either in-person or online through Zoom. If you would like to learn more about the FAFSA application process, scholarship opportunities, or have other scholarship-related questions, please attend this workshop! Space is limited to 40 individuals. Click the links below for more information and to reserve your spot.

3rd Annual Curiosity Unleashed Event

Jan. 27 at Thunder Mountain High School in Juneau

The Juneau STEM Coalition, JSD, AEYC-SEA, and Artful Teaching are collaborating to present "Curiosity Unleashed," a STEAM-oriented event that is free for K-5 students and their families. There will be interactive, hands-on activities presented by Artful Teaching. There will also be goodie bags and snacks for participants. If you are interested in helping run any of these STEAM activities, please register in the link below! Curiosity Unleashed will be held on Jan. 27th from 5-7 PM at Thunder Mountain High School.

39th Annual AEYC Early Childhood Conference

Feb. 6 - Feb. 8 at the Hilton Anchorage Hotel

AEYC (Association for the Education of Young Children) will be having its annual conference in Anchorage from Feb. 6-8. This year's theme is "One, Two Buckle my Shoe, Three, Four, Let's Explore!" Join other early childhood community members to learn new strategies, hear about the latest research, try out a few practical techniques, and discover new tools and resources to help face any challenge. Renew your commitment and passion for working with young children while connecting with peers, colleagues and friends.
Please click the links below to register for the conference and get more information.

Youth Advocacy Institute/Legislative Fly-In

Feb. 8 - Feb. 11 in Juneau

Each year, AASB staff host the Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI) where students from across the state come together to build relationships with their peers and policymakers, while also developing advocacy and leadership skills. This year, YAI will take place Feb. 8-11, and all participating districts are invited to bring students along. YAI participants discuss current bills and practiced testifying and met with representatives and legislators, as well as the Commissioner of Education. Click the links below to register and find more information.

Here are some of our YAI youth meeting with leaders at the Capitol Building!
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.

Edward Clapp will also be presenting a lecture for the community called "Participatory Creativity: Expanding Our Understanding of Invention and Innovation" on Feb. 28th, which seeks to reframe the concept of "innovation" as a collaborative process. This public forum will be presented at Thunder Mountain HS from 5:30-7 PM. Please check out the links below for more information and the link for registration!

6th Annual Alaska CAN! Conference

Feb. 27-28 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.

Molly of Denali Screening

Mar. 13 at Centennial Hall in Juneau

Tlingit & Haida and KTOO are sponsoring a 2-episode screening of the show, "Molly of Denali" on Mar. 13th from 6-7 PM at Centennial Hall. "Molly of Denali" is a PBS show created with support from Alaskan writers and incorporates elements of Alaska Native culture and science. It is also the first nationally-distributed children's show to feature an Alaska Native as its main protagonist. This event will be free for educators and families, and there will be a discussion panel in between episodes.

Culturally Responsive Education Conference

Aug. 5 - Aug. 7 in Juneau

The Through the Cultural Lens program offered through SHI (mentioned above) 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.

Zaretta Hammond, keynote speaker for the "Thru the Cultural Lens" Conference!
Send us your stories by the 8th to get your work featured in the STEPS Newsletter!
Resources and Articles
Alaska Afterschool Network
Alaska Afterschool Network

The Alaska Afterschool Network offers a tone of great resources, webinars, trainings, and ideas. Staff, program managers, teachers, and administrators can all benefit from checking out their website and signing-up for their newsletter in the link below.

Benefits of Community/Family Engagement
Hanover Research

The Hanover Research firm has produced some great statistics regarding the importance of community/family engagement in improving student outcomes. This speaks to the value of the School Climate and Connectedness Survey in promoting cultural integration practices in our schools.

Iḷisaqativut Iḷitqusiat

Ilisaqativut, literally "those who learn together," is a grassroots organization of Inupiaq learners who meet annually to practice their indigenous language. This is the document those participants have compiled at their most recent gathering in August 2019.

Crowdsourcing tool allows Sitkans to leave ‘prints’ on school planning
Robert Woolsey, KCAW

Sitka is utilizing a novel method for crowdsourcing feedback from the community: QR codes! The project, called "Leave Your Print," allows residents to scan and submit feedback for the school district. Please click the link below to learn more about this unique project!

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.