Story last updated at 6/6/2012 - 2:11 pm
KAKE - More than two hundred people attended the first Kake Teacher and Staff Appreciation potluck held at the Kake community center on Thursday, May 10. The event was the culmination of a week's worth of events organized by the Kake School District Community Engagement Advocate Marla Howard.
Howard used volunteers outside of the school community and sought donations to create a week of celebration for the work staff and teachers have done throughout the year. Every day there was a special event, including the planting of a 12 foot red sunset maple in honor of the teachers, personalized mugs and bags for each staff member, specialty coffee delivered to the staff and even a lunchtime car wash where students volunteered to wash staff vehicles. The local store, SOS Value Mart, donated a large fruit bowl to the teachers and students made cards and brought small gifts.
"I thought it was great," said first grade teacher Brenda Catahay. "My favorite part was getting an original piece of artwork from a student, and the hot cocoa they brought me one morning."
Two of the Kake high school students and a local artist painted colorful, original canvasses for all the staff. They were presented during the community potluck. School board members thanked the staff for their hard work.
"We need to recognize publicly the work our educational staff does every day," said School Board President Isabel Mills. "The turnout was great and everyone had a good time."
Kake elders, parents, students and teachers dined on halibut donated by the local Village Police Safety Officer Aaron Loges, and Kake basketball legend Kip Howard. There were salads and vegetable dishes provided by the community and the Alaska Initiative for Community Engagement (Alaska ICE) donated fresh fruit that went on the dessert table ladened with cupcakes, cookies, cakes and other treats.
The kindergarten through fifth-grade classes sang and entertained for the crowd and the Keex Kwaan dancers performed as well. Superintendent Corrina Guardipee bestowed humorous awards to each staff member, as well as recognized retiring employee Debbie Davies and the work of Tlingit teacher Ruth Demmert.
Funding for the district's community engagement activities and planning comes from the Association of Alaska School Boards' Alaska ICE. The initiative actively partners with schools and communities, building positive youth-adult relationships and healthier school and community climates to help kids achieve academic and social success. Community partners include the Organized Village of Kake (OVK) and SEARHC.
Kake is one of several Alaska school districts participating in the initiative. The goal is to improve Alaska Native student educational outcomes by addressing key factors associated with student academic and life success; creating a safe and supportive school climate, increasing community support for and involvement with youth, and increasing family engagement.
Howard says she was pleased with the various community engagement activities, especially the creation of Grandparents Game Night at the school.
"During the school year elders would come to the cafeteria and play board games with the students, enjoy a nutritious snack and then read or tell native stories," Howard said. "It was wonderful to see the children listening to the elder's stories."
The work done this year is setting the stage for next year's effort to empower the students to be leaders in and out of school and get even more community members involved in the life of Kake's students.
For more information contact Claire Richardson at email@example.com
Richardson is the community engagement educator with the Alaska Initiative for Community Engagement with the Association of Alaska School Boards.