Copper Valley Chamber of Commerce News

The Copper Valley Chamber of Commerce is working hard to promote our community and support local businesses and organizations.  Their website offers a lot of information about their current projects and community news.   Take time to check out their website and email them a word of encouragement.

Copper Valley Chamber News.Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 6.37.10 PM

2014 Spring Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences are conducted twice each year in the Copper River School District.  Thankfully, many parents talk to teachers on a weekly or even daily basis throughout the year as they monitor and support their child’s learning.   Even though parent-teacher conferences are not the only time parents can talk with their child’s teacher, it is a pre-scheduled opportunity for a longer visit to discuss the progress of each individual student.

Students are best served when their home and school work together.  Learning and behavior expectations are more likely to be achieved when parents and teachers communicate frequently.   The benefits flow both ways.  Parents and/or guardians should be fully informed of the school’s expectations.   Teachers can better serve students when parents and guardians are partners in the learning process.

The actual conference with teachers should accomplish more than the exchange of pleasantries.   Parents should leave the conference with a better understanding of their child’s progress, needs, and responsibilities.   Teachers should conduct the conference using specific learning data and clear plans for meeting learning objectives.

Teachers in the Copper River School District work hard to answer five essential questions for every student every day.   By taking these five essential questions into your parent-teacher conference, you can gain the most benefit from the visit:

  • Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 11.04.08 AM1) What does my child need to know and do?
  • 2) How is my child learning what she/he needs to know and do?
  • 3) How do I know if my child has learned what she/he needs to know and do?
  • 4) What will we do if my child hasn’t learned what she/he needs to know and do?
  • 5) What will we do if my child already knows what she/he needs to know and do?

These questions can help guide the discussion regarding academics and socials skills.   If your child is doing well academically but has problems relating to other students, ask these same questions.

Teachers in the Copper River School District invest a lot of time and energy preparing for parent-teacher conferences because they are committed to the success of every individual student.   Finding the answers to the above essential questions is not always easy.   Even before you arrive at your conference(s), the teachers have invested time and effort in your student’s success.

The answers to the above questions will be most effective for student success when home and school are working together and communicating regularly.   Soon you will receive an invitation to parent-teacher conferences for March 19th or 20th.   Please respond promptly to the invitation and reschedule if necessary.   Your attendance at parent-teacher conferences can make a huge difference in your child’s success.   We greatly value your partnership.   If you don’t receive an invitation, please contact your child’s teacher.

There are many resources available on the internet for supporting parent-teacher conferences.   Here are links to just a few:

Tech and Tots

Recently I came across two news reports that caught my attention due to the variety of opinions related to technology and learning.  I thought the video and article were fairly balanced.   It is important to note that neither directly address educational technology, but the topic does get mentioned.   Both articles are primarily focused on toddlers, yet the information can be valuable for parents and teachers.    After watching and reading, feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 3.50.10 PM–finance.html


Connecting with the CRSD

Since the CRR Editor and his parents are taking a well-deserved break for the next couple of weeks, this week’s Snippets will highlight other ways that you can stay informed of CRSD events and news. 

  • Blogs
    • The Current is our school blog.   Here you can find school and community related news and information.   The principals and lead-teachers post on The Current regularly.   You can sort by school using the tags on the right side of the screen.  (
    • Tributaries is our district blog.   This is where we post policy, links to AK news, and other information.   Each week, after the CRR is published, I also re-post that week’s Snippets with links to information referenced in Snippets.   Tributaries is also a place where you can participate in on-line conversations by posting comments.   (Make sure to read the “Blog Guidelines” so that we all remember to mind our online-manners.) (
  • eMail List
    • If you visit our website, you can sign-up for our email list.   Various announcements and information are periodically sent out to those who subscribe.   You can find a link on the left menu, “Join Mailing List” that will guide you to the subscription page.   Subscribing is easy and so is unsubscribing.   (
  • Facebook & Twitter
    • For those who frequent Facebook and/or Twitter, please “like” our CRSD Facebook page and follow our Twitter feed.   Through our steady stream of posts, you can find links to individual blog posts, announcements, and other helpful information.  ( &
  • CRSD We1386984296bsite
    • Our website is a constantly expanding source of information.  We try to keep adding information so that our web-site can be a one-stop shop for forms, information, and announcements.   There are many submenus and links that will give you a lot of information.  (

We’ll meet you back here at the Snippets in two weeks.   There will be plenty of information to report on as the legislative session progresses, we begin our budget process, continue discussing digital learning, and plan for 2014-2015.

We wish the CRR Editor lots of extra time with Mom and Dad the next couple of weeks.

Anatomy of a CRSD School Cancellation

For most people in our valley under 18 years of age, school cancelations are the highlight of their week.   For working parents, school cancelations can be inconvenient and frustrating, especially when they are unexpected.   However you feel when you find out school is cancelled, you probably wonder who made the decision and why?

At -50, a school cancelation decision is easy.   The good folks at KCAM call or text me at around 5:45AM and give me the official temperature (normally it is Scott Yahr because for some unknown reason Michelle never gets to announce school cancellations).   If, as indicated in Board Policy 6114.4, the temperate is -50 or colder, I give the word to cancel school for the day.  While the announcement is being made on-air and on the web, Kathy Gearhart initiates a phone-tree to make sure everyone on staff gets properly notified.   Meanwhile, students are either celebrating or going back to sleep, and parents are scrambling to rearrange their day.

A more difficult and subjective scenario happens when the temperature is above -50 but the road conditions are questionable.   Here’s how this type of scenario normally transpires:

  • First Student mobilizes their fleet of buses based on normal routines;Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 4.08.50 PM
  • Drivers communicate road conditions (often before the plows are out) to First Student manager, Teri Dugas;
  • Based on her own observations, AK DOT 511 information and driver reports, Teri decides whether First Student will transport students;
  • If necessary, Teri notifies the district that First Student will not transport students due to road conditions;
  • The Superintendent then determines if the CRSD will conduct classes as scheduled without the students that normally ride the bus or ask families to transport students in their own vehicles;
  • Usually, if the buses are not running, school is canceled;
  • A call is made to KCAM (again, normally to Scott Yahr who happens to be working that morning) to begin announcing “school is closed.”
  • The district’s phone-tree for staff is initiated;
  • CRSD staff begin posting on social media and notifying other media outlets;
  • Tammy Van Wyhe immediately tries to reconcile bucket loads of schedules and requirements in order to propose workable make-up days;
  • Kathy prepares paperwork to submit to EED and the Board of Education;
  • Celebrations begin taking place in homes around the valley as parents notify their children that school has been canceled.

Here are some complicating factors in school cancelation decisions:

  • Road conditions vary throughout the district.   Weather and road conditions in Slana are often very different than in Kenny Lake;
  • It is impractical and inefficient to conduct class with over 50% of the students absent;
  • Many of our bus routes are interconnected;
  • No one wants students in danger;
  • No one wants to pressure parents to transport students in hazardous road conditions.

Our district covers a huge area.   Even when it is -50 below at KCAM, it might only be -40 in Kenny Lake.  Conversely, it might be -55 in Slana and only -30 in Glennallen.   Road conditions also vary.   It is not like Atlanta, if it snows a 1/4 inch in one part of the city, it normally snows that much in another part, thus warranting the hoarding of bread, milk and the cancelation of school.

There will always be second guessers when we cancel school due to road conditions.   Folks will say, “I drove to work and the roads were fine.”   And, by 8:30AM, sometimes the roads are fine.   Unfortunately, some of our students have very long bus rides.   First Student is picking up their first riders at 7:13AM.

Sometimes school cancelations are inconvenient.   Being concerned with student safety is never inconvenient.   One bus accident due to hazardous road conditions and we’ll all be second guessing the decision to put buses on the roads.

For many reasons, we do not like to cancel school.   For one very important reason, we will err on the side of caution when there is unusual weather and potentially dangerous driving conditions.

If you have a comment or suggestion about school closures, feel free to call me at the office at 7:30AM when school is canceled.  Unlike most everyone else, I can never go back to sleep after all the commotion!