• The Time Is Now

    Building an Innovative CTE Program Bridging Rural Alaska to Anchorage


    Scaling Up Not Down

    Human resources in rural Alaska are largely untapped. Lower Yukon School District (LYSD) and Anchorage School District (ASD) are developing a plan of Career and Technical Education (CTE) that will bring resources together to provide students with workforce ready skills. This model can be used throughout the State to build a robust workforce development plan and bring opportunities to young people.welding


    The Why

    This CTE partnership is worth the investment, and has the potential to transform and revolutionize education in Alaska. CTE builds hope for the future through acquired skills and confidence. Achievement beyond high school is the genuine success for our students. When prepared with workforce-ready skills and industry certifications, students are on the track for personal success as adults.


    The Goals

    The goal of the CTE partnership is to provide career and technical education in a cost-ecient model by investing public education dollars eectively. Transforming career success options for students is the ultimate outcome.

    Goals and objectives of the LYSD/ASD CTE Model will include:

    • Maintaining sustainable academic opportunities

    • Building foundational literacy and math skills

    • Developing and sustaining a vibrant residential program

    • Designing a replicable program for urban districts

    • Scaling-up with students from other rural districts

    • Providing equity for students in rural Alaska

    • Boosting the number of LYSD students who complete a CTE industry certification

    • Increasing the graduation rate for LYSD students


    The Questions

    Some may question the integrity and sustainability of this new model. Some will say, “We need to keep our kids at home. We need regional boarding centers.” The reality is that many students from rural Alaska live away from home. If they attend a regional boarding school, it is essentially a continued form of separation.

    Regional boarding schools provide little in the way of diverse student populations and cross-cultural experiences that ASD can provide. When students come to UAA and UAF having little to no cultural and relational opportunity, the dropout rate is disproportionate for rural students. In addition to CTE, the LYSD/ASD partnership can provide CTE skill-building for students, it can also provide opportunities for students to gain life skills such as driver’s education, job shadowing, access to UAA for field trips, access to ANSEP, and interactions with ASD students.

    Simply put, rural boarding schools cannot provide the facility resources, teacher resources, or access to learning opportunities that the LYSD/ASD CTE model will oer. The LYSD/ASD partnership is closing the gap for students from rural Alaska, enabling them to reach beyond the antiquated model with a rich and vibrant program, capturing their interests and launching their success.


    The History

    Dr. Deena Bishop and Gene Stone, LYSD Assistant Superintendent, have developed some of the most successful and innovative educational programs in Alaska while working together in the Mat-Su Borough School District (MSBSD).

    While serving as Senator, Governor Mike Dunleavy helped shape educational innovations in a district that delivered the same factory model that is customary throughout the country and known to be antiquated.

    With the work of the Alaska Legislature, MSBSD developed flexible personalized learning models using Cyber Centers in secondary schools. Under their MSBSD leadership, the number of AP courses successfully completed by students tripled and the graduation rate in all MSBSD schools increased.

    Additionally, in MSBSD, the State’s first Alaska Middle College School opened on the Chugiak/Eagle River Campus of the University of Anchorage. It began with 44 students and now serves MSBSD and ASD with three campuses and nearly 400 students.

    "The future for all Alaska’s students is now. We know that we must prepare students to navigate a future that we cannot predict. Charting a relevant course for Alaska’s rural students provides a pathway to success." 

    —Dr. Deena Bishop


    The What

    Building a career and technical education program will meet the needs of students in rural Alaska by using existing resources in Anchorage and public education dollars. When investing in Alaska’s students, the State is investing in Alaska’s workforce and economic growth. Filling Alaska’s jobs with Alaskans keeps our economy growing and thriving.

    The LYSD Regional School Board and Anchorage School Board recognize the need for accessible and equitable career and technical education throughout the State. Historical legislation and educational models, while well intentioned, have impacted student outcomes in these ways:

    • Dwindling quality of accessible teachers

    • Higher costs of regional educational models

    • Breaking family bonds and units

    The time for change is now. LYSD and ASD are ready to make that change. LYSD currently has 94 students who have left their villages and are attending boarding schools. This new model will not require students to be separated from their families for an entire academic school year.


    The How

    Important change for our students comes with a call to action. The LYSD and ASD collaboration will include:

      • Enrolling 50 students (11th and 12th graders) for nine-week sessions

      • Adding a third session in the academic day at King Tech High School

      • Housing at Long House in Anchorage (owned by LYSD)

      • Collaborating with Calista Native Corporation for cultural learning and soft skills

      • Contracting services for security, custodial, and nutrition needs

      • Recruiting, training, and hiring an administrator to organize and manage the program

      • Providing CTE Program Strands such as:

        • Welding

        • Construction

        • Electrical

        • Metalsstudents in carpentry

        • Small Engines

        • Cosmetology

        • Medical/health sciences

        • Hospitality/ Tourism

        • Natural Resources/ Wildland Fire

        • Technology

        • Aviation

        • Business

    The Ask

    LYSD and ASD are committed to the success of this partnership; the State’s help is needed to make it happen. The projected costs of this LYSD and ASD program are:

          • $1.5 million to upgrade and renovate the recently purchased Long House Hotel from its current state into an appropriate residential facility

          • $500,000 annual stang support for a daily third session and summer addendum contracts

          • State assistance for qualifying students from LYSD and other districts (as more come on board) to support residential school funding

          • $250,000 one-time technology support for personalized learning

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     “ Rural Alaska and its people should be seen as an essential resource who can make a strong contribution to the workforce in our villages and throughout Alaska.”
    —Andrew “Hannibal” Anderson, LYSD Superintendent