Principal’s Corner

Students and Parents,

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 be renewing our implementation of 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. 

Todd

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My Background in Education

I would like to provide you with my background in education.  Since the beginning of my career, I have worked in small schools that serve as an alternative to traditional schools.  My career began at TA Edison Environmental Science Academy in Dallas, Texas.  TA Edison was a magnet school for 7th and 8th grade students which provided students with the opportunity participate in hands-on laboratory investigations, project work and monthly field trips to an environmental science studies center.  From there, I spent two years in Sand Point, Alaska before making my way to Nome, my home for 17 years.  While in Nome, I worked at Anvil City Science Academy, a charter school that is similar to Fireweed Academy, in its philosophy.  With the help of dedicated staff members, supportive parents, and a lot of hard work, we were able to expand the program over time, not only in terms of the number of students/families served but also in the rich and varied curriculum we provided.  I am extremely proud of my work there and I am eager to continue to bring my experience and enthusiasm to Fireweed Academy.

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Emergency Protocols

Parents and guardians,

School safety is a top priority in the KPBSD. It’s important for you to know what to do before, during, and after a school emergency, weather related delay start, or school closure. Please visit this webpage to familiarize yourself with A.L.I.C.E., KPBSD emergency terms and actions, and how to learn if there will be a two-hour delay start or school closure. Click here for more info:http://bit.ly/EmergencyInformationKPBSD

► If school remains open due to adverse weather, and you as a parent or guardian assess the conditions in your local area and decide to keep children home, please call the school to let the office know. An absence due to road and weather conditions will be excused.