Karen Bloxsom named Alaska’s 2023 Assistant Principal of the Year 

October, 2022 – NEWS RELEASE

Karen Bloxsom has been named the 2023 Assistant Principal of the Year by the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP). She is also recognized as the 2023 Alaska Region VIII Assistant Principal of the Year.

The AASSP Assistant Principal of the Year program annually recognizes outstanding middle level and high school assistant principals who have successfully provided high-quality learning opportunities for students. In addition, these assistant principals are acknowledged by their peers for the exemplary contributions they have made to the profession.

AASSP President Brendan Wilson said, “Karen Bloxsom is an extraordinary leader who has created a school culture where students thrive. It is the distinct privilege of the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals to announce her as the 2023 Alaska Assistant Principal of Year!”

Bloxsom has been an Assistant Principal at Wasilla High School in the Mat-Su School District for the last four years.

“Karen Bloxsom is an invaluable part of Warrior Nation,” Jason Marvel, Principal at Wasilla High School said. “Her relational capacity with both students and staff is impressive. She has singlehandedly doubled our Advanced Placement numbers in the last year and her focus on equity has helped transform our school. I don’t know of anyone more deserving.”

Bloxsom shared her process for changing outcome, “WHS was struggling in multiple areas and therefore needed to rebrand. I challenged myself to change our culture and climate. This vision four years ago to revamp Wasilla High became reality through implementing multiple new processes on day one.” 

Dr. Randy Trani, Superintendent of the Mat-Su School District, said Bloxsom is a champion for all students. He said, “Karen relentlessly pursues equity for disadvantaged students and maintains high academic standards for all.” 

Since 2019, Wasilla High School has lowered its major disciple referrals by 13% and has provided more community and job-ready opportunities for its students. 

KB Holbrook, Counselor at Wasilla High School said, “Karen Bloxsom is supportive, a problem solver, and she is willing to address uncomfortable issues.” He added, “Karen strikes a balance between relationship building and holding students accountable for their natural consequences. She is conscious of how her actions affect not individual students as well as our school culture.”  

Robin Lockwood, Wasilla High School Math teacher shared, “Karen Bloxsom is a thoughtful and thorough Assistant Principal. I am impressed with instructional leadership strategies; her years of classroom experience show through her leadership style. She is our AP champion, over doubling the number of students enrolled in AP courses. She truly is the definition of a trauma informed administrator.” 

Karen Bloxsom was recognized as the 2023 Alaska Assistant Principal of the Year during the 56th Annual Alaska Principals’ Conference on October 14th in Anchorage. 

56th Annual Alaska Principals’ Conference

Calling all principals and assistant principals in Alaska…
Mark your calendars for the 56th Annual Alaska Principals’ Conference! It will be held October 14-15 at the Hilton in Downtown Anchorage. Join your colleagues to connect with each other and learn from amazing keynote presenters.

Click here to register today. Contact cgiron@alaskaacsa.org with any questions.

 Mat-Su School District Principal Mary Fulp Named Alaska’s 2022 Principal of the Year

 The Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP) is proud to announce our Alaska Principal of the Year for 2022 is Mary Fulp, principal of Colony Middle School in Palmer, Alaska. 

Principal Fulp is a lifelong Alaskan who received her Bachelor’s in Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She also completed her Master’s in Educational Leadership, with a Superintendent Endorsement from UAA. Fulp has spent 24 years working in education in Alaska and 17 years as a principal in the Mat-Su School District. 

Principal Fulp has been an advocate for education throughout her career, serving as Past-President of the Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) and the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals. She also serves as a principal mentor for the Alaska School Leadership Academy. She was selected by her peers as the AASSP Region 8 Principal of the Year for 2022. 

Brendan Wilson, President of ACSA and AASSP, said that Fulp is deserving of this recognition. “Principal Fulp has been a statewide leader for as long as I have known her.” Wilson added, “She is a passionate and effective advocate for our kids, for education, and for principals.” 

As a Principal, Fulp wants her staff to realize their power when they work with students. “We have the power to change lives every single day, and when we wake up, I hope we are excited to go to work.” Fulp said that as a leader, she gives her best everyday and inspires her staff to do the same because, “So goes the leadership, so goes the school.” 

Dr. Randy Trani, Superintendent of the Mat-Su School District, said that Fulp epitomizes student-centered leadership. “Principal Fulp is uncompromising in her expectations for 

student achievement. She expects all students to make progress and works diligently to instill a growth mindset in all students at Colony Middle School.” 

Dr. Trani said that he was pleased to learn that Fulp was recognized as Alaska Principal of the Year and added, “I am so thankful Principal Fulp has dedicated herself to serving the students of the Mat-Su. She is truly an inspirational leader.” 

Dr. Michael Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Education and Early Development, extended his congratulations to Fulp. “By recognizing Mary Fulp, we all express our commitment to the values and student-centered leadership she demonstrates each day in her school. We also express our desire to extend Mary’s leadership to schools across our state.” 

Each year, the AASSP State Principal of the Year winners are submitted for consideration to be the NASSP National Principal of the Year. NASSP will announce three finalists in July. Fulp will travel to Washington DC in September for the NASSP Principals Institute. 

Will Chervenak named AASSP 2022 Alaska Assistant Principal of the Year

Will Chervenak has been named the 2022 Assistant Principal of the Year by the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP). He is also recognized as the 2022 Alaska Region III Assistant Principal of the Year.
The AASSP Assistant Principal of the Year program annually recognizes outstanding middle level and high school assistant principals who have successfully provided high-quality learning opportunities for students. In addition, these assistant principals are acknowledged by their peers for the exemplary contributions they have made to the profession.
AASSP President and 2021 Alaska Principal of Year, Robin Jones said, “Will Chervenak is an extraordinary leader who has moved mountains to create a school culture where students and staff thrive, and it is our distinct privilege to announce him as the 2022 Alaska Assistant Principal of Year!”
Chervenak has been with the Kenai Peninsula School District (KPSD) for six years and Assistant Principal at Kenai Central High School for the last three years.
“Mr. Chervenak has a continual growth mindset,” Clayton Holland, Superintendent of KPSD, said. “He always seeks to find ways to improve and thereby become even more effective at positively impacting students. He is supportive of staff, and he seeks to include their voice on decisions made at the site level.” 
Sharing how he has continued to grow as a leader despite a pandemic, Chervenak said, “I have pushed myself to improve my professional practice and have taken a new approach to student discipline, focusing on restorative justice and building positive relationships.” 
This year Chervenak has facilitated the N.O.T. (Not On Tobacco) youth cessation program as part of this new approach. N.O.T focuses on tobacco product education and cessation, providing an alternative to out-of-school suspension for students found using tobacco products at school. He shared that he will continue to learn and advocate for response to intervention best practices techniques to bring back to his school. 
Kenai Central High School Principal Dan Beck shared his excitement about Chervenak’s recognition saying, “It has been a pleasure to join Will Chervenak on the administrative team at Kenai Central High School this year. He is a true advocate for our community and school.”
Chervenak said the success of Kenai Central High School comes from the dedication and leadership of everyone on staff, “I am very proud of the culture that exists at my school. We are focused on student voice and providing a student-centered curriculum that is further supported by the personalized learning framework.”
“Will is motivated to serve the community, specifically students, which makes him an effective educator,” said Peter Gundunas, Resource Teacher at Kenai Central High School. He taught with Chervenak for four years. 
Superintendent Holland added that KPBS staff and the community are excited to celebrate Chervenak’s accomplishments and recognition.

AASSP and AAESP Back to School Message from Robin Jones and Jennifer Rinaldi

We hope this message finds you well and that you were able to rest and recharge this summer. As we embark on what could be another challenging school year, the associations wanted to pass along some keepsakes to help you navigate leadership in uncertain times. 

We need to keep understanding

It is important for us to stay informed during the pandemic and equally essential for us to understand how the spread of COVID-19 will impact our students, staff, and communities in different ways.  

We need to keep growing… 

While it is easy to feel set back when things do not go as planned, we have to continue to cultivate and model resilience so we can optimize our opportunities for personal and professional growth.  

We need to keep moving…

The amount of loss that everyone has felt is overwhelming and unimaginable, but it is critical that we learn from our past experiences and keep moving forward. 

Our hope is that as we keep understanding, growing, and moving forward, we can still provide an excellent education for our students while taking care of ourselves and our families in the process. AASSP and AAESP are here to support you every step of the way!

2022 ACSA Legislative Fly-In, March 27-30 in Juneau

Mark your calendars. Let your voice be heard. Advocating for public education is important for our future. Register today!

Virtual Alaska Principals’ Conference, December 3, 2021.

The Principals’ Conference Planning Committee has decided that in the best interest of everyone’s health and wellbeing, the 55th Annual Alaska Principals’ Conference will be held virtually on December 3rd, 2021.

Calling all principals and assistant principals in Alaska…

Mark your calendars for the 55th Annual Alaska Principals’ Conference! It will be held Friday, December 3rd virtually, 8:00am-1:30pm. Join your colleagues online, “Leading Together,” to connect with each other and learn from amazing keynote presenters, Allyson ApseyJenni Donohoo and Dr. Panigkaq Agatha John-Shields. Click here to register today. Contact acsa@alaskaacsa.org with any questions.

Aspiring Superintendent Program

Over the past several years, the Alaska Superintendents Association has been working hard to support leadership development with all superintendents, especially new superintendents. Providing in-depth learning opportunities relevant to the Alaska’s superintendent experience is one way that ASA offers to empower Alaska’s education leaders with proven tools for success.

The Aspiring Superintendent Program is an introduction to the tools for success for any educational leader ready to learn more about next steps into the superintendent role. Developed with practical information and insight from experienced superintendents, the Aspiring Superintendent Program brings together a cohort of education leaders to empower them with effective leadership skills and connect them with seasoned superintendents who know the needs of Alaskan districts and what it takes to succeed.

The program consists of a series of webinars and personalized, virtual meetings and (when possible) face-to-face meetings focused on core skills required in today’s Alaskan school districts. Real problem-solving scenarios are explored in-depth, along with a deep analysis of common situations confronting leaders including board relations, ethics, communications, budgeting, advocacy, instruction, politics and an overall understanding of the role and expectations of the Alaskan superintendent.

To register or for more information contact Program Coordinator Sean Dusek: sdusek@alaskaacsa.org
See accompanying page for schedule details.

ACSA Umbrella

The Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) was created to serve as an umbrella for four of Alaska’s premier educational leadership organizations: the Alaska Superintendents Association (ASA), Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP), Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals (AAESP), the Alaska Association of School Board Officials (ALASBO) and other district office administrators.

ACSA’s unifying purpose is to support educational leaders through professional forums, provide a voice that champions possibilities for all students and provide purposeful advocacy for public education. ACSA comprises professional educational leaders of Alaska’s schools and school systems. Members include superintendents and other central office administrators, university professors, elementary and secondary principals and school business officials. ACSA is also proud to administer the Alaska Staff Development Network, Alaska’s premier, long-standing and highly regarded staff development resource. As an umbrella organization, ACSA takes a lead role in supporting and advocating for public education while recognizing the value and uniqueness of each member organization.

The ASA Aspiring Superintendent program supports Alaskan education professionals to meet their leadership goals and develop into Alaska’s next generation of education leaders who will move the learning needle forward!

Robyn Taylor has been named Alaska’s 2020 Principal of the Year!

Robyn Taylor

Be resilient, be responsive, and find what works.

Principal Robyn Taylor’s last semester started with a very broken foot in traction, a pandemic that turned school upside down while she was homebound, and a transition to homeschooling her 17-year-old daughter. So when she got the phone call that she was named Principal of the Year by the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals, she had to tell her wide-eyed daughter that the tears in her eyes were happy tears of gratitude. As a self-proclaimed optimist, Principal Taylor lives every day finding and shining light on the positive things even in this time of extreme upheavals. 

“I see this era as being a transformational change for education. We are in a position where we have an opportunity to step away from an archaic instructional age that has gone on in America for 250 years and we can really embrace personalized learning that captures the strengths of the individual,” says Taylor. “Flexibility is going to be key,” says Principal Taylor. “Be resilient, be responsive, and find what works.” 

An unconventional approach to education is not something new to her. Even before the pandemic, she began envisioning the idea of a staggered school schedule that would allow students the flexibility to start at different times of day and/or different days of the week to better support individual learning patterns. And on a typical (pre-pandemic) day in her school, it would not be uncommon to see students walk through the front door with a desktop computer, a lawn mower, small engine, or even a chainsaw. 

Taylor is the principal of Hutchison Career Center, a unique secondary public-school choice program in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District that currently serves 400 full-time and 160 part-time high school students. The career and technical education program allows high school students the opportunity to pursue one of five focused career clusters as their primary focus, with grade levels and activities as a secondary focus. The school has become so popular in recent years that the school district implemented a lottery system for accepting new students in order to allow a level playing field for students who apply to the school. 

“Robyn Taylor is truly an outstanding principal. She is skilled at navigating community and business partnerships with entities that support the mission and vision of Hutchison High School, our district’s comprehensive career technical education center,” says Fairbanks North Star Borough Superintendent Dr. Karen Gaborik. “She is also committed to ensuring practices that promote inclusion; diversity and equity are at the core of student enrollment procedures and course offerings at Hutchison.” 

Among many successful endeavors, including a campaign to greet each student at the front door every morning and another of sending each student hand-written notes of appreciation, Principal Taylor has implemented the Work Readiness Program.  

“As a former small business owner and business education teacher I have always placed significant value in preparing students to enter the workforce and make effective transitions from school-to-school, school-to-work, or work-to-school. Our school staff worked through an iterative 4-year process to develop a Workplace Readiness Score document that reports employability scores at the end of each quarter for a student to voluntarily submit to a potential employer,” Taylor said.  

The overall score is pulled directly from their Power School grading system and calculates Workplace Readiness scores based on a student’s attendance, timeliness, missing and late work. 

Just launched in 2019/2020, the program has already garnered strong support both from students using their Workplace Readiness score for job applications and employers pursuing Hutchison students for hire. On the first day scores were released two students asked for extra copies of their scores to include in job applications. 

Taylor grew up in a large family-owned business in Pocatello, Idaho that was one of the largest small business employers in the area managing five corporate entities. Her mother was the chair of Idaho State University’s College of Education program teaching CTE teachers how to teach. She had the opportunity to take over one of the businesses after a stint teaching and left Alaska to take it, but quickly learned it was not what she wanted.  

“My driver was to be in education and see students succeed,” said Principal Taylor who has a Bachelor of Business Administration, a Master of Education and an Educational Leadership Superintendent’s Certification. 

Part of that, she says, is helping students realize they have to learn to depend on themselves and to find ways to make things work for them.  

Alden Jerome, a graduate of Hutchison High School who served as the youngest Fairbanks Board of Education member, is one of those students. “The adults at Hutchison High School know students very well. As a graduate, I feel like I will have life-long friends in my former teachers. The culture led by Ms. Taylor can be summed up in a statement that those familiar with Ms. Taylor have heard often, ‘I love you in a friendly and school appropriate way,’” says Gerome. 

Her message to current students as they navigate the uncertainties of the year ahead? 

“Flexibility is key,” she says. “Be resilient, be responsive and find what works.” 

As the current Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals Principal of the Year, Taylor is eligible to be a candidate for the National Association of Secondary School Principals of the Year Award.  

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Assistant Principal Dan Beck named State of Alaska 2020 Assistant Principal of the Year

Dan Beck

“It is great to be involved in a career that I love, and I wake up each morning feeling good about going to work. As a school principal, there is so much variety in my work, and two days are never the same. I really enjoy that I am not in a position that requires me to do the same things over and over, day after day. I enjoy my interactions with students, and I am hopeful that I am making a positive impact on the students who I have worked with over the years.” –Dan Beck, Kenai Middle School assistant principal

“During my visits to Kenai Middle School, I have seen the compassion, empathy, and true sense of caring for students when walking in the halls with Dan, talking with him as he supervises lunchtime and transitions, as well as the respect he has earned from his students upon entering classrooms.” –Homer Middle School Principal Kari Dendurent

Vaughn Dosko, Kenai Middle School principal said about Mr. Beck, “Ten years ago, I was representing Alaska as the Assistant Principal of the year. It is a great pleasure to mentor and work with Dan on a daily basis for the past nine years. Our administration styles mesh in a way that we are able to draw the best out in each other. Dan’s effort and passion for Kenai Middle is on display each and every day. Dan Beck is one of the many reasons why KMS is the great place it is today.”

In his words…

“The first person to encourage me to become a principal was my wife, Tracie Beck. We were teaching together in rural Alaska and she pointed out the skills that I have that she felt would make me a good administrator. She has always been supportive and encouraging, and I am very thankful for her.” 

“KMS is a great place to work. I know that it is common to use the term family to describe the people who you work with, but here at KMS I cannot think of another way to describe our workplace relationships. Our staff is great and that really contributes to the enjoyment and fulfillment that I get out of my work. This is my ninth year as the assistant principal at KMS, and the way that Mr. Dosko shares the administrative duties with me contributes to my high level of job satisfaction and longevity. We work closely on all administrative duties and I feel valued as a member of the KMS team.” 

Thankful for mentors
“Several administrators were influential mentors to me early in my administrative career. I am thankful for the leadership and direction that Ron Keffer, Gary Whitley, Sam Stuart, and Larry Natta provided to me as I began learning the craft of school administration. They were the people who I looked to for direction and advice when I was new in the profession.” 

“I have had the opportunity to work with Dan Beck as a colleague in the capacity of a fellow principal and as a member of the Kenai Peninsula Activities Association for the past seven years,” said Kari Dendurent, Homer Middle School principal. “In addition, I have had the great pleasure of following in his footsteps as the principal of Homer Middle School. While the principal at HMS, Dan created an environment of family and hired several of the phenomenal teachers currently practicing today. It is through his foresight to find and hire quality staff that HMS has become a school of excellence. As a principal colleague, I have had the opportunity to work with Dan in calibration teams and have visited his school often. During my visits, I have seen the compassion, empathy, and true sense of caring for students when walking in the halls with Dan, talking with him as he supervises lunchtime and transitions, as well as the respect he has earned from his students upon entering classrooms. Dan’s rapport with his students is in a coaching capacity and he will treat students as individuals to support them in both their academic and social emotional needs. I have also had the opportunity to work with Dan on the Kenai Peninsula School Activities Association (KPSAA) Board. Dan is level headed in his decision-making and is able to bring the history of decisions made by the board as well as providing sound reasoning to establishing policies. Dan has been invaluable on this board to ensure fairness and equity to the student athletes of the KPBSD.”

“Mr. Dan Beck is a well deserving recipient of the Alaska Assistant Principal of the Year honor,” said Superintendent John O’Brien. “He was selected for this honor by his peers for good reason. Dan is a seasoned school administrator having served in principal and assistant principal roles in Alaska and Montana. In every decision Dan makes, he has the best interest of his students in mind. He is an amazing advocate for students and we are all very proud of him!”