ASD Honors Denali Award Recipients for Fall 2016


December 19, 2016




Two ASD employees and a team of colleagues were selected by a panel of judges as recipients of the Denali Award, a biannual recognition program which honors employees who have shown outstanding achievement, service and dedication in ensuring every student has the opportunity to achieve his or her potential. The Anchorage School Board will recognize the winners at its meeting tonight.


The fall 2016 winners are:


Kat Yackel

Kat Yackel is described by her colleagues at Mears Middle School as an exceptional art teacher who inspires her students to produce spectacular projects. Her positive modeling of high-level student engagement and community involvement make her a wonderful role model for her fellow teachers.


Yackel regularly opens her room during lunch for students to come in and do homework, work on art projects, or just talk to her. Prior to becoming an art teacher, she taught mathematics for many years, and also gives additional help to students in that area.


According to a former student, “Ms. Yackel brings color, feeling, and emotion to Mears through her students’ art projects. She teaches us everything we need to express ourselves through art. She makes a difference to me by always making sure I start the period with a smile on my face. She helps me become a better artist and person by teaching me how to express myself with art.” Another student wrote that Yackel greatly impacted his middle school experience and made him feel like she truly cared.


For the past four years, Yackel has been a key leader in Social and Emotional Learning at Mears. She creates and participates in fun and engaging events which increase student involvement and build positive connections among students and staff.


Outside of her day job as an art teacher, she is very giving of her time to support other schools and the community. For example, she supports Clark Middle School’s Faster Than a Falcon race by volunteering to design the race t-shirt logo each year.


Yackel’s principal wrote “Our staff members appreciate her humor, creativity, and the ideas she has developed to make Mears a positive and supportive working environment. She is an extraordinary artist, inspirational leader, and one of the best teachers I have worked with in my 29 years as an educator.”


Pamela Orme

For ASD’s Social Studies Curriculum Director, Pamela Orme, her role isn’t just a job, she feels it’s her civic duty and calling. As a result, her work consistently extends far beyond the parameters of her job duties.


Orme works closely with multiple national, state, and community organizations to further social studies educational opportunities for students, teachers, and community members. She is well known among her peers for her exceptional professional development. She regularly reaches out across Alaska to ensure others can benefit from her work. As an example, her recent development of a statewide online Alaska Studies college course benefits teachers across Alaska in building their expertise in this subject. She also developed the second grade “Picturing Anchorage” curriculum book and student e-reader. Through her tireless work, the e-reader is available for purchase through the iTunes App Store.


Because of Orme’s strong belief in the many unique disciplines which make up social studies, she supports and implements multiple programs that extend ASD’s social studies curriculum, including We the People, National History Day, Supreme Court Live, Color of Justice, Nike Site Summit Tours, the Alaska Cold War Conference, the Anchorage Centennial Celebration, and the Alaska Sesquicentennial Celebration. According to her supervisor, “Her willingness to support teachers in implementing these programs ensures that our students have many additional opportunities to learn about history, economics, and civic engagement.”


In addition to imparting her vision and energy into the teachers who work with her, Orme also supports and builds them up to be successful in whatever task they are attempting. She sets a strong teaching foundation which is reflected in their curriculum. Her supervisor wrote, “Her work is never-ending and I can think of no one more deserving of the Denali Award.”


Title I Grants Facilitation Team

Tammy Million, Scott Pryde, and Jamie Stotts are the small – but mighty – team which supports the Title I Department and 26 Title I schools.


According to their supervisor, each of them brings unique qualities and skills which have provided invaluable support to principals and empowered the program to move forward with initiatives.


Million epitomizes customer service. She is highly skilled at managing 63 different Title I budgets and is the go-to person for questions regarding travel, mileage, addenda, and budget codes. She works diligently each day to ensure critical resources are in place and the budget’s potential is maximized. She serves as a mentor to school administrators who are learning to navigate Title I planning and execution. “Knowing that her skills are underpinning our work allows Title I leaders to move forward with confidence and sure knowledge that the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed,” said a supervisor.


Pryde is Title I’s go-to person for data and technology. He harnesses the District’s data systems to provide just-in-time decision-level information to Title I principals and leaders on a daily basis. He helps principals understand how to access data systems to build their capacity and facilitates professional development classes for teachers using spreadsheets and technology. He is very organized, professional, and always shows incredible patience when teaching others a new process. According to a school leader, Pryde has “without a doubt made my job easier. He may not work in a school, but everything he does impacts our teachers, families, and students.”


Stotts accepts each task with a smile and an “I’ve got this” attitude. Her logistics and materials preparation work is vital in supporting parent involvement programs and the professional development which is delivered to Title I schools. If you need it, she knows where to find it and every project she touches is a model of organization. According to a Title I principal, she regularly thinks about how she can provide materials or helpful items through community donations. Her supervisor describes her as always willing to come in early or stay late; whatever it takes to get the job done.


In closing, a supervisor writes, “the District is stronger for their efforts and fortunate to have their devoted labor among its key human resources.”


About the Awards

Supervisors have the opportunity to nominate employees each fall and spring. Nominations often include letters of support from co-workers, members of the community and students detailing why the employees are considered outstanding in their field of work. The awards are judged by a group of their peers.


ASD applauds these employees, and all nominees, for their amazing service to our students and this community. 

Anchorage School District website accessibility and nondiscrimination notice. The Anchorage School District is an equal opportunity provider.