Putting our adaptability to the test
This past fiscal year started off as most do, preparing to provide the services Alaska's school districts have come to rely upon, but we also saw some dramatic changes. We pride ourselves in being nimble and adaptable — and that was really put to the test!
The global pandemic has changed the way we live, work and learn at every level. We responded quickly to keep our staff and clients safe, moving to remote work and adjusting services to meet new needs and circumstances, from moving to paperless contracts to supporting districts with a quick transition to distance learning.
Early in the fiscal year, we were awarded the grant to serve, along with Education Service Districts in Oregon and Washington, as the region's Comprehensive Center, providing technical assistance and capacity building for the region's State Education Agencies. We developed State Service Plans based on education priorities, but when COVID-19 hit, plans changed. Especially in Alaska, we shifted our focus entirely to supporting the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development with supporting distance learning and planning for Alaska's Smart Start 2020.
As challenging as this year became, it did shine a light on our resiliency and commitment to each other as we work together to ensure Alaska's students continue to learn and grow.
Region 16 Comprehensive Center
In 2019, the US Department of Education created a five-year Comprehensive Center Network Program. Using strategic performance management and implementation science, with an emphasis on equity and cultural proficiency, the Region 16 Comprehensive Center, formed by a coalition of education service agencies in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, is helping state education agencies implement their plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act and improve student academic achievement.
We set our mission: to engage state, regional, tribal, school, and community partners to improve the quality and equity of education for each student by providing evidence-based services and supports.
Working closely with State Education Agencies, each state developed a State Service Plan, though it quickly became necessary to pivot to assist with COVID-19 response. Alaska resumes its focus on teacher recruitment and retention with AK Rise and improving literacy in FY21.
R16CC proves agile
Almost as soon as Alaska's State Service Plan was finalized, staff shifted priorities to meet the needs of Alaska's educators and students in the face of COVID-19.
R16CC, along with other SERRC programs, worked closely with the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development first to provide resources for educators' sudden transition to distance learning delivery, then to provide support in planning for the 2020-21 school year and beyond.
Eight-hundred-three individuals registered for the Smart Start 2020 webinar series and the Smart Start 2020 Summer Summit, with some participants attending both. R16CC and DEED brought together — virtually — Alaska educators and nationally recognized experts in education, school safety and more.
"(I) appreciate the quality of presenters and facilitation — timely, organized, professional and open! Thank you."
SERRC's Professional Learning Program provides resources and training support to educators, leaders, paraprofessionals and other support personnel throughout Alaska. Response to districts is driven by their unique needs and foresight of upcoming needs based on state and national trends and data, with embedded culturally responsive strategies and methods.
In partnership with Sealaska Heritage Institute, SERRC trained educators in three districts in Alaska Cultural Standards for Educators using Culture in the Classroom. Principals received customized training in how to support their staff using the same resource.
SERRC provided customized training to Special Education paraprofessionals in supporting students using culturally responsive resources created by SERRC. Additionally, paraprofessionals were supported in passing the state certification exam.
Flexible schedules Are the future
SERRC adapted its face to face meetings to virtual meetings, creating unique, flexible schedules to meet the needs of clients, something not possible with in-person training. Multiple virtual sessions or recordings for on-demand viewing may now be made available.
Opening Doors for Alaska Native Students
Opening Doors for Alaska Native Students is an Alaska Native Education Program grant partnership with Sealaska Heritage Institute.
The goal of Opening Doors is to establish equitable, engaging, inclusive and culturally sensitive learning environments in which Alaska Native students can thrive.
Opening Doors will reach approximately 150 teachers, 12 administrators and 1,750 students in eight districts in Alaska. Teachers will receive professional learning in expanding their culturally responsive pedagogy; leaders will receive certification in Cultural Proficiency; and students will have more equitable access to learning opportunities as a result of refined school and district policies.
Special Education Related Services
SERRC Related Services Providers and Education Specialists served 791 students from 24 districts throughout the state.
SERRC staff demonstrated resiliency in dealing with the sudden shift to online service delivery in the wake of statewide school closures.
Service to all districts continued through the end of the year, shifting from on-site services to distance delivery over ZOOM, phone, packets sent to districts and a variety of other creative ways.
With universal staff training in distance delivery, SERRC can now offer it for all related services moving forward.
I am writing to let you know how pleased we are with Cara, who is providing our speech services this Spring. I have gotten great feedback from everyone she has worked with.
Since 2002, SERRC’s Technology Operations team has been helping craft, support, and implement the technology policy and vision of rural Alaska schools. Their mission is to help teachers and staff build stronger academic and professional relationships by offloading technical overhead.
TechOps strives to increase capacity and efficiency internally and in the districts they support. They've steadily taken on more work in the last few years and kept costs reasonable. Efficiency measures are paying off for clients.
Dave Herbert in Saint Mary's sought advice from TechOps regarding technology during spring of 2020. The "technical" advice focused on relationships and included very little actual technology. The district is proud that they missed only one instructional day of the 2020 school year due to COVID-19.
As COVID began... (TechOps) offered support and training as needed. The team has worked to support me and my teachers continuously all year, but the service we have received in the past few weeks has been outstanding. Things that are not necessarily mission-critical for delivering instruction right now are still being addressed and my questions are being answered with great speed.
SE Alaska Area Health Education Center
The Southeast Alaska Area Health Education Center is a program tasked with increasing and supporting the healthcare workforce.
AHEC hosted students from all around the state for three different Health and Behavioral Health Career Connections intensive camps. Students earned university credit and earned Mental Health First Aid and Heart Saver CPR certifications.
AHEC also provided continuing education in the form of Youth Mental Health First Aid training to nearly 50 educators and superintendents.
AHEC implemented a Scrubs health and healthcare program for second grade students in fall 2019. With SERRC staff teaching eight sessions, with two sessions led by guest speakers from health care fields.
Several students shared that they had thought working in healthcare meant direct patient care as either a primary care doctor or nurse, but through AHEC, they were able to talk with upwards of 40 different providers and learn about the variety of health and behavioral health career pathways and positions.
I didn't know what I wanted to do before and now I do.
The Southeast program has been coordinating with other regional AHEC offices and the state AHEC program director on a variety of efforts including making high school workforce programming available virtually, supporting contact tracing efforts, and working with AHEC Scholars.
SERRC’s Facilities department offers a wide-array of affordable site-specific maintenance and construction services that help districts keep their buildings safe and in compliance with state and federal regulations.
Capital Improvement Projects
- Prepared 49 applications, plus 19 re-use of scores
- Approximately $246 million requested
- 21 school districts.
- 8 of 14 applications on final School Construction List
- Top 2 projects on the list
- 57 of 102 applications on final Major Maintenance List
- 12 of the top 25 projects, including #1 project on the list
- 56% of all applications submitted statewide
- 8 of 14 applications on final School Construction List
Maintenance Management System
- Currently serving 25 School Districts
- Over 600 buildings, totaling over 3.5 million square feet in the system
- Nearly 16,000 pieces of equipment in the system
- Over 700k work orders have been tracked in the system.
- Assisted school districts with preparation for Preventive Maintenance and Facility Management site visits from EED during FY21.
- Assisted school districts administer design and construction projects
- Also helped districts with small project procurement to make sure they would later qualify for Recovery of Funds CIP applications.
AHERA Asbestos Compliance Services
- Performed AHERA reinspections
SERRC submitted 31 grants for 9 school districts, totaling $2,023,767 and impacting 2,461 students.
We developed a wonderful partnership with SERRC and their dedication to our District is evident on all aspects. We appreciate their attention to detail, professionalism and customer support. SERRC was able to work with us to create efficient and effective ways to support our District.
Alaska Close Up
Alaska Close Up brings 7th-12th grade students and chaperones to Juneau to instill a sense of civic duty and to inspire them to participate effectively as informed, responsible citizens of our state. The program teaches participants about state government through hands-on activities and arranged field trips that include meeting with legislators, visiting various government sites, and holding their own mock committee and legislative simulations.
Three ACU sessions were held, with 90% of students and 100% of chaperones rating the experience as either 'excellent' or 'good,' and 88% of chaperones saying they would return with another group of students in the future.
It was super informative and interesting. I honestly feel like I’m much better prepared to influence my legislators and my state.
Career Connections is a week-long, hands-on career exploration program held in Juneau, open to all 9-12th graders. It offers students an opportunity to explore a broad variety of potential career paths. Due to the pandemic, the decision was made to cancel Career Connections for 2020, but it will resume when safety can be assured.
Career Connections made career exploration resources available online to teachers and put together three themed packets for schools to distribute to students who did not have access to technology or the internet in their homes. The resources created during COVID-19 will strengthen the program going forward.
We will plan on coming back next year!
21st Century Community Learning Center
The Learning Connection
The mission of The Learning Connection (TLC) at SERRC is helping people build a better life through education. Adult learners in Juneau seek out SERRC for a variety of reasons. The adult education program provides GED preparation, English language instruction, college support, technology and employability skills training, and career guidance to learners 16 years of age and older throughout southeast Alaska.
TLC served 160 students in eight communities. TLC had 12 graduates, with a 92% GED passage rate. Twenty-one volunteers dedicated 330 hours to helping adult students learn and grow.
COVID can't stop these students
Although The Learning Connection closed its physical learning space in response to the health and safety concerns around COVID-19, students remained engaged in their education! Many students checked out books and materials and worked with their instructors through video- and tele-conferencing. Other students utilized online learning programs curated by TLC instructors. Still others met in small study groups with tutors via zoom. Students and staff demonstrated flexibility, determination and commitment in the face of unprecedented challenges.
Cheyenne remained dedicated to studying for her GED. Even while "hunkered down," Cheyenne video conferenced every day with her instructor and logged over 40 hours of study time toward her GED through distance learning. She is committed to earning her GED for herself and to be a role model for her son.
Youth Workforce Development
JobX provides individualized assistance to at-risk youth, who are out of school and aged 16-24, to develop a career plan and employment goals, including earning their GED or returning to high school to earn their diploma. The program also works with eligible graduated youth to explore and enroll into training and post-secondary education, gain job skills through subsidized work experiences and to find and keep a jobs.
Dominic was referred to JobX by Tlingit and Haida’s Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Program as a youth experiencing a learning disability related to dyslexia. Through career assessments and additional research he determined he was interested in pursuing training in diesel mechanics. Through guidance from JobX and funding from SERRC’s Trades Training Program, TVR and JobX he was enrolled in and completed seven courses at UAS in both the welding and diesel mechanics programs where he is working toward two occupational endorsements.
Mature Alaskans Seeking Skills Training
Mature Alaskans Seeking Skills Training provides free work skills training and places participants 55 years and older into paid community service to hone their work skills. SERRC's serves four of the five regions in the state: Southeast, Northern, Mat-Su and Gulf. With many workplaces closing and older Alaskans at high risk for complications from COVID-19, participation necessarily decreased starting in spring 2020.