Nearly nine hundred Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD) teachers and administrators converged at Kenai Central High School in August before the kids headed back to the classroom. The focus of the day according to Pegge Erkeneff, KPBSD Communications Specialist was, "Collaboration leading to effective instruction, connections, preparation and learning for the new school year. Superintendent Steve Atwater invited everyone to focus on a half-full glass and encourage one another. Collaboration is a theme for the new school year, and dozens of breakout sessions in the afternoon focused on content and grade-alike sessions," reported Erkeneff.
Keynote speaker Hall Davidson, director of Discovery Educator Network, demonstrated web 2.0 technologies, offering several free sites for educational integration. The websites he shared are now available via the internet on school computers. A link to Discovery Education is on the KPBSD website. Davidson invited everyone to, "Stretch a little bit and think about new tools [now available] that we didn't have." Furthermore, he challenged, "How many of you showed your students how to create a social media account? They did it on their own. Tap into that importance in the classroom," said Davidson.
New kindergarten students who will graduate in 2025 will live in a vastly connected, digital world. According to Superintendant Dr. Steve Atwater KPBSD is committed to using digital-age experiences to develop creative, productive learners who demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to meet challenges in an ever-changing global society. For example he said, during the fall 2011 semester, iSafe, a digital safety program for students, staff, and parents will be embedded into health curriculum. To focus the day Atwater in his opening remarks to teachers and administrators said. "KPBSD has two goals for 2011-2012. First, in partnership with our richly diverse communities we will increase student achievement by being responsive to individual student needs through structured collaborative practices district-wide. Secondly, again in collaboration with our richly diverse communities, KPBSD will increase student engagement by implementing effective instructional practices with embedded, Next Generation Learning Skills district-wide. Four questions guide the collaborative work of educating our students: What do we want each student to learn? How will we know when each student has learned it? How will we respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning? And how will we enrich learning for students who are proficient?
On the fifth day of school, the Commissioner for the State of Alaska Department of Education and Early Development visited several Kenai Peninsula schools and met with the district leadership team. Concluding the day, Commissioner Hanley said, "There are concerns about the American and Alaska education system being broken, but it is not on the Kenai Peninsula. Great things are happening here. Educators know who kids are, where they are, and address needs for students to be successful." Dr. Atwater agrees, "Commissioner Hanley's visit to KPBSD offered him some insight into why our students do so well and I know that he was impressed by our schools' commitment to do what it takes to help our students succeed," he said. The forty-four schools in KPBSD encompass 25, 600 square miles, educating nearly 9,000 K-12 students. "We welcome our students to a new school year. Parents, guardians, and community members are necessary to help students succeed. We appreciate the commitment from the School Board of Education, the educators, staff, and administrators who gathered during the district wide in-service to learn and collaborate together in our school district, where kids come first," added Atwater. A link to Discovery Education and more KPBSD information can be found at www.kpbsd.k12.ak.us.