STEPS Alaska Updates
Stepping Up for Alaska's Youth!
Celebration: As you reflect back on the STEPS, what’s a story or something that has changed that’s worth celebrating?
Haa Aani´: Haa Yaasi´ Haa (Our Land, Our Harvest)
Hydroponics, EthnoMathematics, and Food Sovereignty
Three years ago, Angoon school administration and staff began to build an academically enriched positive school climate by creating engaging classes and implementing strategies that introduced students to inquiry learning. We immediately started to create relevant, hands-on, place-based, and culturally responsive courses such as EthnoMath, Applied Technology, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) and Tlingit Language and Culture.

We continually seek instructional best practices to address local challenges that will mitigate the perceived disconnection between school and “real life.” This detachment often results in our students’ low motivation for learning, especially in mathematics.

Knowing that math is found everywhere (not just in textbooks and worksheets), we introduced EthnoMath as an academic subject to provide our students with a broader and more relevant perspective that math is traditionally linked to their daily lives. While giving them a stronger understanding and appreciation that math and science are intricately related, students were exposed to one of our community’s most pressing challenges — a wide lack of access to fresh produce. 

Not surprisingly, we found that our youth are often unaware of the efforts that go into producing the foods they eat, as well as the significance to their community of developing alternative ways to cultivate fresh fruits and vegetables for year-round consumption. These two challenges led to Haa Aani´: Haa Yaasi´ Haa (Our Land, Our Harvest), the theme of last semester’s EthnoMath Institute and the introduction of Hydroponic Cultivation into our AgriScience course curriculum.

In their quest for inquiry and relevancy, students will transfer their learning into advocacy through our Hydroponic and EthnoMath programs. The long-term goals are to create community awareness around the importance of healthy and diverse nutrition sources that value traditional foods and join cultural knowledge with emerging technologies.
We intend that our Hydroponic Cultivation Program will serve as a vehicle for economic opportunities and the development of sustainable energy sources such as biomass, solar, wind, and water. Our students are already enriching the future while embracing the past by connecting healthy nutrition to healthy living and subsistence.
What’s a tool or resource everyone should know about?
  • Watch for more information early next fall, as Chatham will continue the Ethnomath PLC if you’re interested in joining the learning community!

  • This year, our Elementary School launched its version of our program with the addition of hydroponic growing units in each class and the opportunity for families to obtain such units for home use. This opportunity is possible through a generous grant provided by Green Our Planet, whose curriculum and hydroponic gardens provide a natural laboratory for students to learn STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). STEMworks-Accredited Hydroponics Program - Green Our Planet
Upcoming Opportunities
Workgroups or Trainings
STEPS Annual Gathering
When: Tuesday, May 2-3 
Where: Juneau
Who: STEPS partners
Southeast Network of Alaska CAN
When: First Wednesdays of the month at 10:00 am
Who: Southeast Alaskans working to increase access to postsecondary education
Where: Zoom, contact Emily for the link, eferry@aasb.org
How Are Our Schools Doing Applying an Equity Lens?
When: Thursday, April 20, Noon
What: As part of AASB’s “How Do You Know?” webinar series, we will be looking at ways of evaluating how our schools are achieving equity goals. 
Who: School board members, administrators, and program staff.
Kaa Tukaxsaké Héende Gathering
When: Friday, April 21 
What: The monthly gathering of the Juneau-based restorative learning cohort hosted by Haa Tooch Lichéesh
Who: People committed to building a more equitable community
Where: Juneau Yacht Club
Family-School Partnership Teams In-Person
When: Thursday, April 27, 2023 (all day)
Who: Required for Alaska Family Engagement Center grantees and optional for STEPS community/school teams.
Where: Anchorage
How: Contact Lori if you are interested, lgrassgreen@aasb.org.
Alaska Native Language Summit Pre-Conference
When: Thursday, April 27, 2023, 9 am - 4 pm
Where: William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center, 555 West 5th Avenue Anchorage, AK
Our Cultural Landscape: Culturally Responsive Education Conference
When: June 13-15, Proposals due April 7 
Who: Open to all educators
Where: Juneau
Grant & Funding Opportunities
Positive Youth Development Grant
When: Proposals are due April 7, 3:59 pm. Questions are due March 28.
How: Apply here
Child Care Improvement & Innovation Grants
When: Call for proposals closes April 14th
Who: Community Partnerships (up to $2M) or Program Improvement (up to $50K) 
How: Apply here
Become an Elder Mentor
What: A program through RuralCAP that provides tax-free stipends, meals, and travel assistance to elders volunteering in schools and pre-K settings. 
Who: Adults 55 or older
When: Apply by April 7th for the 23-24 school year
How: Apply here
Funding for Families to Visit Postsecondary Institutions
What: Tlingit & Haida’s Navigators program has funding for students from Juneau or Prince of Wales to visit potential postsecondary institutions.
Who: one student (Tribal citizen) and one caregiver,
When: Travel must be completed by August 25, 2023
How: Apply here or contact Renee Culp, rculp@ccthita-nsn.gov
For Students, Families and Staff
First Alaskans Institute Internship
Who: Alaska Native college students and graduates
When: Application open until filled; internships are June 5 - August 11
How: Apply here
Teen Expeditions with Alaska Geographic
Who: Youth who don’t usually have a chance to experience backpacking and kayaking
Where: Based out of Anchorage
When: Apply by April 3
How: Apply here
Motherhood is Sacred
What: Parenting course to help strengthen families
Who: Offered by Tlingit & Haida’s Community & Behavioural Service Division
Where: Offered virtually
When: Tuesdays, 9-10:30 am
Parents as Teachers
What: AEYC’s Parents as Teachers program continues to offer in-home AND virtual home visits. If you know of a family with young children who could use some extra support,
Who: Adults who are parenting kids ages 3 and under
When: On-going
How: Please send referrals to Emily Thompson, ethompson@aeyc-sea.org
The Learning Connection
Who: Anyone over 16 needing support taking the next step toward college and career training
When: Daily
Where: Downtown Juneau and the Valley Library
Looking for additional ideas? Check out the STEPS Resources page for past newsletters and other STEPS-related resources.