It is the giving and giving thanks season and that comes in many forms. Money is huge, of course, but time is equally and sometimes even more powerful. Here at Fireweed Academy, a free public charter school with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, I have seen the hundreds and hundreds of hours that are freely given to help kids learn.
Who helps Fireweed Academy be remarkable? This list is long, as it includes not just paid teachers and support staff but also so many community members who donate their time. We have an eight-member Academic Policy Committee, parents and community members whose function is to support and assess the school’s progress, as well as make decisions and policies regarding the school’s operation. Current members are Kary Brinson, Amber Niebuhr, Crisis Mathews, Kate Henry, Brandy McGee, Hannah Gustafson, Jon Kulhanek and Hannah Snow and our honorary member and one of our founding members Garry Betley. When you see these folks out and about town, thank them for their hard efforts. They are supporting Homer’s kids and Homer’s future.
One of Fireweed Academy’s goals is to make learning fun and authentic. We achieve that in a variety of ways, one of which is by collaborating with professionals in our community and inviting guest speakers into our schools to interact with our students and talk about their work. In relation to this quarter’s habitat theme, we had visits from Carmen Field from Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, Matt Steffy from Homer Soil and Water Conservation District,
Lori Jenkins, a local gardener, and Joel Cooper, the stewardship director with Kachemak Heritage Land Trust. Subjects ranged from salmon habitat an life cycles, invasive species, local habitat resources for wild and domestically grown foods to protected habitats of our local land trust. And Melissa Gagnon and Mark Tanksi talk to the students about their lives in India. We thank each speaker form coming to share their expertise and experiences with our students.
And then there are the everyday helpers in and out of the classrooms — a huge list. Like parent Dylan Braund who created the new path to the yurts (yes, we teach in yurts), Sue Biggs who brings music into our schools, Tania Trejo who sewed book bags with the kids and Crisi Mathews who offers after-school craft classes at Big Fireweed.
Within this limited space, I would like to thank all the community members and parents who come together to continue Fireweed Academy’s legacy of supporting and empowering children as they grow, learn and become young adults.
…Where students learn to view themselves as
readers, writers, and problem solvers.