September Update

Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals

Big picture
Big picture

The first days of school are under our belts. Building routines and expectations have been taught, and schools have gotten into a rhythm. This is the time of year to start looking at your school data and finding areas you and your staff need to tackle. Data is an excellent tool for creating professional conversations about school improvement. Data is real and it is not an opinion.

Another excellent opportunity for professional development and conversation is the 56th Annual Alaska Principals Conference on October 14th and 15th. Yes, it is in person! Our state has a wide variety of schools, from small schools to large schools, K-12, primary, elementary, and secondary schools. This conference allows you to collaborate with principals from around the state with a similar school to yours. On top of this, you will hear from national presenters speaking on current issues. Please seek me out, and I hope to meet you in person at the 56th Annual Principals’ Conference.

It is easy to get into the habit of starting work early and leaving late. While there is much to be done, make sure you are making time to take care of yourself. Self-care is essential to a long and prosperous career. Please have a great September, and take the opportunity to get out and enjoy our beautiful state!

Joshua Gill

AAESP President

Big picture

Principal, Nome Elementary School

Enjoy our Q&A with this month's Member Spotlight, Elizabeth Korenek-Johnson, or Mrs. KJ as she is affectionately known!

Q: What is your current role, and how many years have you served as an administrator?

A: This is my sixth year as Proud Principal at Nome Elementary School.

Q: Why did you decide to become a principal?

A: I decided to take on this leadership role because I was watching our school community be diminished by constant administrative turn-over. We couldn't make any progress. I have a passion for my home community of Nome and want to pay forward all the opportunities this community has afforded me.

Q: What has been your biggest struggle?

A: My biggest struggle has been rebuilding the trust of the staff - in each other, in the school system....The fix has been to be transparent in all that I do, include staff in decisions whenever possible, and always expect the best of myself and each other for the benefit of all students. It's about the kids!

Q: What is the biggest success you have achieved as an administrator so far?

A: Our biggest success in the last six years has been gaining the trust of our community. Families know we are focused on what is best for their children, and feel good about sending their students to school each day. It's about positive relationships, and we continue to do the work it takes to create and sustain those relationships.

Favorite Quote:

"The quality of an organization is a direct reflection of the conversations that people have within the organization." - Peter Senge

Big picture


We are so pleased to announce a new partnership with Alaska Airlines!

Alaska Airlines has partnered with AAESP and will be providing our association with four Round Trip vouchers, anywhere Alaska Airlines flies, for use during the 2022-2023 school year!

Ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Carriers in North America" in the J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study for 12 consecutive years from 2008 to 2019, Alaska Airlines flies to some of the most sustainable places on the planet, like Costa Rica and the Hawaiian Islands.

AAESP is looking forward to supporting our members by offering vouchers to attend professional development opportunities throughout the year, as well as offering YOU the chance to win two vouchers of your own! Stay tuned and watch for more information on how you can be the lucky winner of these tickets.

Thank you, Alaska Airlines, for supporting all of our hardworking principals across the state of Alaska! We appreciate your partnership!

Big picture

Fall Membership Drive

Our fall membership drive continues! If you have not renewed your membership for the upcoming school year, please do so today to ensure your membership does not lapse.

2022-2023 Membership Forms are located here: Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals Membership Form 2022-2023 (

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to Jennifer Schmitz, Executive Director, at

Professional Development Opportunities

First and foremost, we hope that you have signed up for the Alaska PreK-12 Principals’ Conference to be held October 14-15 at the Hilton Hotel in Anchorage. The conference planning committee has been hard at work and you will not be disappointed! Click HERE to register. Make sure your membership is up to date this year to get the membership rate and to qualify for extra perks during the conference. We will be offering one credit through UAA if you attend the full conference. Information regarding credit will be available at the registration booth.

ACSA is holding a Women in Education Leadership Summit on October 12th from 8:30-12:00 at the Hilton. Join Deb Degner from The Leadership Bridge for this exciting opportunity. More information can be found HERE.

We will also be kicking off our other credit(s) opportunity through UAA at our all-members meeting later this month. Join us to learn how you can earn 1-3 credits doing things you already do AND how you can offer them to your staff as well.

Remember that if you have PD needs at your school that you think we may be able to help with, please reach out! We are happy to do some research for you, look at grant opportunities, and/or try to set something up that will help.

AAESP would like to welcome the following people to our Executive Board of Directors:

  • Lori Rucksdachel, President Elect (Anchorage)

  • Jenna Fabian, Secretary (Kenai)

  • Heather Jones, State Representative (Anchorage)

These fabulous members join President Joshua Gill (LKSD) and Treasurer Linson Thompson (Anchorage.) We are looking for a few more members to join our board as region reps. These positions are appointed in order to assure we have representation from around the state. If you are outside of Anchorage and Kenai, we need you! Please email Jennifer Schmitz at if you are interested.

Thank you to those of your who took a look at our Bylaws. There were no additional changes suggested so we will vote on those at our next meeting.

Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals

Jennifer Schmitz, Executive Director

Jen Rinaldi, Deputy Director