November Update

Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals

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The first quarter has flown by, and the winter season is now upon us. Looking back at the first quarter, one of the most memorable experiences for me was attending the 56th Annual Principal conference. Adam Welcome's keynote about challenging students and making decisions to ensure students are being put first has inspired me to look at my professional practice, and I encourage you all to take some time this busy season to reflect on what inspires you.

As principals, we often make decisions on the fly without time to consider the pros and cons. New administrators need seasoned mentors to help them work through issues and reflect on their decision and practice. Knowing a colleague is willing to listen and share successes and failures is how we make it through the long nights and challenging scenarios in the name of enriching our student's lives. For experienced principals, it is important to make connections to peers across the state to lean on and help us through tough times.

AAESP has been working hard to help connect principals across the state and start narrowing that divide in rural areas by holding area meetings through Zoom. Please take a look below at our new offering and find a time that works to join your peers across the state for some conversation, updates, and support. While our state is massive in size and space our education community is small and tight knit. Together we can do anything.

Another opportunity being offered is a credit opportunity. Each school is different and has unique needs. With this in mind we have designed a credit class you can tailored to your school’s needs. This allow you meet your needs and help you staff with credits, and additional information on this is below.

I look forward to hearing from everyone about their hard work at our area meetings and ACSA monthly meetings.

Joshua Gill

AAESP President

NEW!!! AAESP Area Meetings

In response to member requests, we are excited to begin offering area meetings, with the first ones being held this month. Please see below for a schedule of events, and share and invite administrators from your area, even if they are not currently AAESP members!

Monday, November 14th, 4:00 PM - Southeast and Southwest Alaska

Hosted by Heather Conn and Josh Gill

Zoom Meeting ID: 985 1434 1949

Monday, November 21st, 4:00 PM - Northern/Rural Areas

Hosted by Josh Gill

Zoom Meeting ID: 989 7885 4384

Monday, November 28th, 4:00 PM - Kenai Peninsula

Hosted by Jenna Fabian and Josh Gill

Zoom Meeting ID:950 9818 3539

We are looking forward to seeing you at one of our area meetings!

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Principal, Homestead Elementary School

This month our featured principal is Aimee Kahler from Homestead Elementary in Eagle River. Read on to learn about all of the amazing things happening in her school and with her students!

Homestead Elementary is a neighborhood school with over 300 students in Eagle River, AK. In her first year as Principal of Homestead, Aimee Kahler knew right away there was something special about Homestead as the community is known for their fine arts integration and their Student Leadership Council.

Homestead builds on the current academic setting of excellence and enriches the academic core through visual art, music and movement. The rich and unique approach to the Fine Arts nurtures and challenges the whole child by addressing their intellectual, social and emotional, and physical and artistic development. An example of Homestead’s fine arts integration for our third-grade students for Alaska Native Arts and Culture unit includes learning about indigenous Alaska Native Cultures in the classroom, practicing and competing in Junior Native Youth Olympics in physical education, build, and design, traditional frame drums in the art room, and learning traditional songs, drumming, and dance in the music room. Our third-grade students make connections to culture, history, traditions, community, design, form, and language on pathways only achievable through the Fine Arts.

The Homestead Student Leadership Council, led by Homestead Staff Kaitlin Lenoir, a 6th Grade Teacher and Branda Kostka, a Paraprofessional Educator, began over 8 years ago and continues to grow each year with over 60 students represented this year. The Student Leadership Council consists of students in grades 4-6, who work incredibly hard on school spirit and community service projects with a goal to complete one a month. Students get their ideas by brainstorming, voting on projects, and working tirelessly to turn their plans into reality. The goal is for the council to be student centered and led and provide opportunities for kids to take ownership and pride in their school and community. Some of the projects this year include a Harry Potter themed family event, Red Ribbon Week with a PEP Rally, Poster Contest, and Spirit Week and the annual Eagle River "Food Fight" competing against other ER area schools to collect the most points of food for the CER food pantry.

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AAESP welcomes Kaladi Brothers as our featured partner for the month of November! Kaladi Brothers began bringing coffee to Alaskans in the mid 1980s and is proud to be Alaska's premier coffee roaster. Thank you, Kaladi Brothers, for supporting our Alaskan principals!

Professional Development Opportunities

We all know that Alaska is unique in that we do not have only traditional elementary and secondary schools. It is also clear that the Reads Act is going to lead to the addition of more PreK programs (which is good news!) NAESP is offering a "virtual convening" for principals to learn more about PreK education and running successful programs. We encourage you to take part. The registration is at the link below.

We will also have more information about how you AND your staff can earn 1-3 credits doing things you are already doing during the area meetings later this month. Please plan to attend one of those meetings to hear about this opportunity and to connect in smaller groups with other principals in Alaska.

Nominations for National Distinguished Principal and National Outstanding Assistant Principal are now open!

Each year, AAESP selects one principal to serve as the National Distinguished Principal for the state of Alaska and represent our state at the national level. Nominations are now open, and anyone can nominate a principal with a minimum of five years of experience in the principalship and three consecutive years of membership in NAESP.

New this year - AAESP is also accepting nominations for the National Outstanding Assistant Principal Award. Nominations are open for a practicing assistant principal who demonstrates exceptional leadership and has at least two years of experience in the role.

More information on both of these award programs can be found at:

Please submit your nominations to by February 15th, 2023.

Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals

Jennifer Schmitz, Executive Director

Jen Rinaldi, Deputy Director