Sayéik GastiNEWS

February 28, 2022

The light is returning and the sun appeared last week! Many of our classes went on hikes with Discovery Southeast, it is so nice to return to some "normal" activities.

During COVID, 2nd-5th grade students were eating snacks outside. K and 1st eat snacks in the commons. As a result, we ended up with quite a bit of garbage on our playground. Once we brought it to the attention of our students, they began helping to keep our playground litter-free. Last week our 2nd-5th grade classes changed their snack schedule so that students are not eating snacks while outside at recess. Please reinforce the "no food on the playground" rule when talking to your child(ren) at home. We need to stand by our Ocean Guardian goals and protect this beautiful environment and our kids are great about doing their part!

As we march toward spring we look forward to Sea Week, field trips, and other opportunities to take our learning outside. Be on the lookout for opportunities to chaperone field trips and be a part of the hands-on learning. In the meantime, bring on the light!

Take care,


3rd Trimester Here We Go

The last day of the 2nd trimester was Thursday, February 17th. We are now in the 3rd and final trimester! Report cards were mailed out on Friday, so be on the lookout!

Counselor's Corner

Hello from the Counselor’s Office!

Hooray for longer days and some *GASP* sunshine! I don’t think last February I would have predicted that this winter would be even more challenging - but it sure feels like it has been! I think we all deserve a medal - and especially parents who have the hardest job to begin with - I have so much respect for each of you as you support your children daily through these challenging times.

We have been exploring different feelings and making maps of our hearts. We have read a couple of books schoolwide - The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee and The Invisible Web by Patrice Karst. Each student has made a map of their heart including a variety of ways to represent their many and varied feelings. It was lovely to see students really digging deeply into different hues of their emotions using this Feelings Wheel. I saw so many of your kiddos explore these and make their own meaning. The second book helped us explore the many connections we share with our human family.

In retrospect, I think my own underdeveloped understanding of my emotional life led me into school counseling - truly I am learning right along with your children about the breadth and depth of our feelings and how to honor them. I am pleased to report I’ve moved beyond my “Big 4” childhood feelings of sad, mad, happy, and scared! I remember feeling like some of my feelings shouldn’t be there. My family was pretty uncomfortable with sadness and fear and so I learned to hide those feelings and to feel ashamed of them. Ironically, when we help our children lean into their feelings - even the big, scary ones, those big feelings are actually freer to move through more quickly and less likely to get stuck.

We will be returning to our annual personal safety lessons this week and will wrap those up by Spring Break. You will be receiving this letter in probably more ways than you want!

Please be kind to yourselves as the light returns. Each one of us does very hard work each day. Again, thank you for sharing your children with us!

Deb aka Ms. Spencer

1st Grade Spotlight

  • I was born in California but moved to Juneau at the age of four. I went to Fairbanks for college and spent the first 13 years of my career teaching in the beautiful village of Angoon, where we still have our home.
  • I have been a teacher for 27 years and have been teaching at Sayéik for 14 of those years. I have only a few years left until I plan to retire.
  • My favorite thing about being a teacher is the constant laughter and depth of curiosity I get to share with my amazing students every day!
  • For fun I love to be out fishing in the boat on sunny days and stay inside beading and making moccasins on rainy days…which means, I bead a lot…
  • You might not know this about me but I LOVE TO JAM TO REALLY LOUD MUSIC in my truck
  • Did you know I speak Japanese?! 私は日本語を話します。
  • I was born and raised in Juneau. I spent two years in Moscow, ID while my husband attended graduate school.
  • I have been a teacher for eleven years and have been at Sayéik: Gastineau for eight years
  • My favorite thing about being a teacher is the moment in the year when my students become a community. I love helping to cultivate trust, a safe learning community, and watching as kids learn to hold each other up. That's really been magical to witness in-person this year.
  • For fun, I love making things. I am super crafty; I love fiber arts (knitting, sewing, cross stitch, embroidery, felt crafts) and baking. My family enjoys walking our lab puppy on Juneau's trails and going for bike rides.
  • You might not know that I used to be the vocal captain of "Juneau Jazz Juniors," a charter member of the Alaska Youth Choir, and the director of "Juneau Children's Peace Choir." I love to sing!

Ocean Guardian Update

Sayéik: Gastineau Ocean Guardians are hard at work making sure all plastics are picked up off the playground and school grounds. Students have organized a "Clean Up the Playground" committee and are even spending recess time picking up garbage.

Many students are using reusable snack bags. You can continue supporting our goals as an Ocean Guardian School community by working to reduce single use plastics, recycle and repurpose items.

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Sayéik: Gastineau Website

Did you know that the Sayéik: Gastineau website is frequently updated with important dates, current events, and student pictures? Check back often!

2023-24 Draft Calendars

The Board of Education is currently considering 3 different options for the 2023-24 school calendar. Submit your comments ASAP, but no later than noon on March 8 to

Around Town

Read Across Alaska begins this week. This Friday-Sunday, there will be a "story path" along the seawalk at Overstreet Park (aka the whale statue) featuring the children's book "Who Lives Near a Glacier?" by local authors Jim and Susi Fowler. This is a great opportunity to get outside AND read together as a family.

Hallway Art