One of my most favorite things to experience is the joy a child expresses when he or she learns something new. The sparkle and shine in their eyes when something that was hard finally clicks. The obvious accomplishment and pride they wear like a badge for a job well done. As a young girl I got my first experience working with young children as the neighborhood babysitter at the tender age of 10. And then again, as an adult with my own two children. I have always loved being surrounded by kids. When my youngest child started school at Fireweed Academy, I was presented with an amazing opportunity to become part of the staff as a paraprofessional. I leapt in with both feet, arms akimbo, mind fully engaged and hit the ground running. In my free time I enjoy multiple forms of art, fiber arts, spending time with my family and friends, and enjoying the quiet of our family cabin in Tutka Bay.
Message from our Principal
It goes without saying that I am looking forward to this coming school year. While we may not be back to 100% normal, we certainly have come a long way since August of 2020. Last year, we tried to provide the students with as many normal activities as we could while following the safety protocols we needed to adhere to. I believe students and staff did a great job all around, even with all of the challenges we faced as a community. This year, we plan on getting back to even more annual events and celebrations. Let’s make this school year one to remember.
On behalf of our staff and the Academic Policy Committee, I would like to welcome you to Fireweed Academy. Over the years, our school has taken pride in providing a unique educational program that makes our school special. We strive to provide a learning environment in school that develops a community of learners through our focus on the school’s newly developed “We Believe” statements:
We believe that students learn best through hands-on experience and reflecting on those experiences.
- We spark curiosity and ignite critical thinking through engaging projects and theme studies.
- Knowledge is founded on a process of observation, investigation and collaboration.
- We seize learning opportunities when they arise; no timeframe is too short!
We believe that music, arts, and creative self-expression nurture strong learners and responsible citizens.
- The arts are integrated throughout subject areas.
- Fireweed Frescoes provides group violin instruction to grades K–2, further enriching academic and social learning.
- Partnerships with local artists and organizations expand opportunities for creative expression, movement and community connection.
We believe in nurturing a compassionate learning community
- Students develop social and academic skills in small classes through cooperative learning, multi-age groups, and mentoring opportunities.
- Students learn individual responsibility, conflict resolution, and compassion through restorative practices.
- Celebrating learning is at heart of what we do.
We believe that the natural and cultural community of Kachemak Bay are fertile grounds for learning.
- Fireweed prioritizes outdoor play, exploration and discovery beyond school walls.
- Students build a sense of belonging as they become stewards of our community.
- Place-based education helps our students learn about themselves, each other, and the world around them.
We believe in building skills for engaged and responsible citizenship.
- Fireweed helps the whole child grow by fostering leadership, character development and civic responsibility.
- Social and emotional skills are developed through coaching, modeling and practice.
- We teach media literacy and critical thinking skills to help young people navigate a changing world.
As we begin the new school year, we will be welcoming new staff and reconnecting with our returning staff!
This year, we welcome one new classroom teacher to our school. At Little Fireweed, we have a new first grade teacher, Becky King.
Becky and her husband moved to Homer this summer, from Eagle River . She comes to Fireweed Academy with a wide range of life experiences which will be a great fit for our school. She is a recent graduate of Alaska Pacific University with a Master of Science in Outdoor & Environmental Education. While earning her degree, she also served as Adjunct Faculty in the Natural History of Alaska, Backcountry Travel and Packrafting, Sea Kayaking department. Additionally, she is a registered yoga instructor, a Wilderness First Responder, and has been an Emergency Trauma Technician. We believe that these skills, combined with her teaching experiences and training make her a perfect fit for Fireweed. We look forward to introducing her to our Fireweed community in the coming school year. Becky will be working along side our returning staff Erin Pollock, Mo Wilkinson, Kara Bakken-Clemens and Mary Samuel at Little Fireweed.
At Big Fireweed, Carly Garay is joining the team as our as a long-term substitute for Katherine Nitcy during the first quarter of the school year. Carly is an artist/educator who was raised in Homer, AK. She has been teaching elementary and secondary art for 8 years in Alaska and Oregon. In 2019 Carly earned a Master of Arts in Teaching with a focus on secondary art education. She loves working with youth and strives to be an encouraging and warm educator. Carly will be working side by side with our returning staff: Jon Kulhanek, Stephanie Zuniga, Carolyn Norton, and Margie Scholl. Last, but not least, Sharlyn Young returns as our amazing secretary to help support students, parents, and staff alike.
As with any successful school, we continually seek to improve our academic program, as well as the school’s cultural environment. This year, we will renewing our implmentation Restorative Practices in our effort to make sure that every student’s voice is heard while helping to restore relationships and build a community of compassionate kids. The staff will also get back to use the of cooperative learning strategies in which students work with one another to develop their academic and social skills through Kagan Structures. The use of Kagan Structures require students to be actively engaged in lessons and promote respectful and responsible behaviors that support a safe and positive classroom environment, as they work with partners and teams.
Experience has taught me that having a strong relationship and partnership with parents and students is vital to the success of a school. I also plan to renew a parent volunteer program that was growing and thriving prior to the pandemic. Hopefully, we will help you identify ways that you will be able to support the school, at school, on field trips, or even in the comfort of your own home. I am looking forward to meeting and working with you, so that we can build upon the success that Fireweed Academy has enjoyed. Together, we will continue to offer a unique academic experience for our students, while providing parents with a great choice for their child’s education.