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Jill Peters Joins Nome School Board, First Inupiaq Language Class a Success

During last week’s regular meeting, the Nome School Board swore in new board member Jill Peters and featured an update on the new Inupiaq Immersion Program led by Kiminaq (Maddy) Alvanna-Stimpfle.

In their first meeting since the municipal election, the School Board welcomed Peters and thanked former board member Brandy Arrington for six years of service to Nome Public Schools (NPS). Sandy Martinson was also named the Board President.

With close to two months of the immersion class under her belt, Alvanna-Stimpfle reported that she has been able to hire a graphic designer and an illustrator to assist with creating culturally relevant worksheets and materials for the students.

“We’ve just been Inupiaqizing it, indigenizing it, Alaskanizing it.”

– Kiminaq Alvanna-Stimpfle

Alvanna-Stimpfle has also enlisted the help of elders in the community, who come into the class almost every day to assist in teaching the students. After seeing the Inupiaq Immersion Program, one elder told Alvanna-Stimpfle and her teaching aide that, “Inupiaq is alive here.”

Based on the Inupiaq Immersion program’s successful start, Alvanna-Stimpfle hopes to continue building a strong foundation in order to serve future generations of Iñupiat students.

“They’re picking it up very fast, and our language is coming back. It’s coming home, and I’m so thankful for this opportunity. We’re creating this foundation for these children, and I hope with this foundation, we can continue.”

– Kiminaq Alvanna-Stimpfle

In Superintendent Jamie Burgess’s report, she expressed her disappointment regarding the Alaska School Activities Association’s recent announcement regarding the cancellation of all fall 2020 state championship events. However, Burgess says the Nome-Beltz volleyball team will continue to participate in local activities.

Last Tuesday night, Superintendent Jamie Burgess announced that NPS will have a “distance learning week”, Jan 4th through Jan 8th, in order to mitigate the risk of travel-related spread of COVID-19 after the holidays.

“So we’ve made the decision that a ‘distance learning week’ will be a good move. We’re also hearing from other superintendents across the state that are also following suit. This gives us plenty of time to plan. Teachers are planning ahead, so we won’t be putting something together at the last minute. We’ll have a packet that can go home with families before winter break.”

– Superintendent Jamie Burgess

Distance-learning in Nome primarily means a “paper and pencil” model because of the lack of reliable internet access for a sizable amount of NPS students.

In late August, KNOM reported on the district’s application for an E-Rate waiver through the FCC that would allow for students to access school internet from their homes.

NPS Technology Director Jim Shreve updated the School Board last Tuesday about the status of that application.

“The FCC is categorically denying any waivers requesting to push internet outside of E-Rate funded schools. So, it’s just blanket denial right now, so that doesn’t bode well for our request.”

– Jim Shreve

There was only one action item on the meeting agenda to revise the budget for fiscal year 2021, which the board voted to approve. The next regular meeting of the Nome School Board is scheduled for November 10th.

Image at top: New Nome School Board Member Jill Peters. Photo from Alisha Papineau, used with permission. (2020).

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