Meet the CRSD – Frances Jackson

Each month the CRSD Snippets will highlight one of our dedicated employees.   We will randomly draw a name so that every employee in the district has the opportunity to be recognized for his/her unique and essential role in providing a quality education in our rural environment.   This month, we are pleased to present Frances Jackson.

2015 Frances Jackson
Left to Right: Angela Vermillion (sister), Lorraine Jackson (mother), Frances Jackson

Name: Frances Jackson


Birthday: September 6th

Role in the CRSD: Elementary Teacher

 Primary Campus: Glennallen

Where else have you taught? June Nelson Elementary, Kotzebue Alaska

Where are you originally from? Gulkana, Alaska

Favorite Book/Author/TV Show: The Bible

Favorite Music Genre:   Bethel Music

Favorite Place in Alaska: Denali Hwy. It’s where my grandparents took us to spend time with us.

Favorite Place Outside of Alaska: Sedona, AZ. It is so beautiful and peaceful.

Hobbies: Bake, read, bead

Favorite Aspect of Teaching: I like that I know a lot of families in the area and am able to be an advocate for them here at school as well as an advocate for school in their homes.

One Interesting Thing About You That Might Be Surprising: I spent two weeks in Haiti helping to build the foundation for an orphanage.

Favorite Beverage: Mug root beer and Americano Coffee (with cream and sugar)

Favorite Snack: Apples

In One Sentence, What Advice Do You Have for Students? Attitude is everything. You can change the atmosphere by smiling or frowning.

Frances started working in the Copper River School District in 2005.   Send Frances an email, buy her a mug root beer or a gift card for Hacienda on Debarr (her favorite restaurant) to let her know how much we appreciate her serving students and families in the CRSD.

Sports Night in the Copper Valley

I wish I had a catchy theme song like NBC does for Sunday night football, but for now, an announcement in the Snippets will have to do. So grab some chips and dip and settle in for some action…Its Sports Night in the Copper Valley (or at least it will be this weekend)!   Many of you have already discovered that we have been streaming some hockey, volleyball and basketball games live on the internet using equipment generously donated by Copper Valley Telecom.   It is a work in progress and we are making steady progress.

For many years, KCAM has broadcast CRSD sporting events on the radio.   In recent years, KCAM has been available online, so family and friends outside the Copper Valley have been able to tune in for basketball and hockey games.   In one memorable state tournament, a former students working on Antarctica (shout out to Philip again) and another former student working at Prudhoe Bay (shout out to Josh Lorence) were listening to a GHS basketball game and interacting on social media.   We can honestly say, CRSD sporting events are followed from the top of the planet to the bottom (though which is the top and which is the bottom is different question).

With the new equipment provided by Copper Valley Telecom, fans can now watch the action in addition to listening to the lively calls from KCAM.   We’re still working on synching the audio with the video, but we’ll get there.

To watch CRSD events online, visit and find the link “Watch CRSD Sports & Activities LIVE STREAMED here!”Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 5.30.45 PM   This will take you to the CRSD website where you can watch live events (with a slight delay) and recorded past events.   Currently there are several basketball games and a couple of hockey games, including homecoming.   Students from both Kenny Lake and Glennallen Schools are featured in the games.

Please be patient with us as we learn how to use the equipment.   Several folks have been helping out with the broadcasts, including John Berner, Wade Sampson, Joey Virgin and probably others that I don’t know about yet.   Our plan is to expand the number of events that we make available online, including the 2015 graduations ceremonies.   Once we get the hang of things, we can find out if there is any interest in having board meetings and other informational meetings broadcast and recorded online. As you share your ideas for other internet broadcasts, give us time and some forbearance if and when there are glitches.

Copper Valley Telecom makes all of this possible.   Shilah Bulter and other CVTC staff seem to constantly imagine new ways to support the students and families of the Copper River School District.   Their generosity and partnership goes above and beyond the typical business partner.   They don’t wait for us to ask for help, but seem to be constantly thinking of news ways to enhance our mission to provide a quality education in our rural environment.

In a time when we mostly hear about harsh budgets and a declining Alaskan economy, we in the Copper Valley enjoy an abundance of human resources.   As you’re out and about this week, please take time to personally thank Copper Valley Telecom and KCAM for helping us show off our students.   If you are a friend or family member outside of the Copper Valley, you can email Copper Valley Telecom at and KCAM at

Get ready to AMP it up! by: Tamara Van Wyhe

Get ready to AMP it up!
Tamara Van Wyhe, Director of Teaching & Learning Support

For more than a decade, Alaskan educators, students, and parents knew that for three days in the spring, the daily routines of school would come to a standstill for the state’s Standards Based Assessments (SBAs). Held annually on the first Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of April, the SBAs measured learners’ mastery of Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics via a paper/pencil test much like those taken by students for more than 50 years. This year, that tidy routine is changing as students statewide take the first of a new generation of computerized assessments meant to measure an updated set of standards that is significantly more rigorous than previous learning expectations.

The new Alaska Measures of Progress, or “AMP,” will be taken by students in grades 3-10 during the month of April. Instead of taking three assessments, students will take two tests: a language arts assessment that measures both reading and writing, and a second test measuring students’ mastery of mathematics standards. Statewide assessments are mandated by state law and federal requirements, and test scores are used for both school and district accountability, as well as for the new teacher evaluation system.

Two significant differences have the attention of educators as we prepare for the first administration of the Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 7.56.49 PMAMP: Instead of all students in grades 3-10 testing on the same three days, the new assessment will be spread out over the course of a few weeks. While each individual student will have testing sessions on only two days, the various grade levels will test at different times throughout the testing window. The second change, and the one that has folks statewide talking, is that the AMP breaks with tradition when it comes to the testing format. Instead of ensuring that thousands of No.2 pencils are sharp and ready to bubble in answers, districts across the state are working hard to provide computers and network infrastructure that will allow stress-free computer-based testing experiences for both students and educators…and this requires a new kind of practice.

Students in the CRSD have had initial practice opportunities with the new computer-based assessment (CBA) platform, and those chances to practice with both the technology tools and the types of content questions will continue periodically until testing occurs in April. One important lesson learned from states already using CBAs is that students who have the opportunity to practice with the technology are more successful on the assessments themselves; thus, we want to ensure that CRSD students know how the testing platform works and are comfortable using it so they can competently “show what they know” when it comes to the test questions on language arts and math content.

Alaska elected to move to a “next generation” assessment because of the multiple benefits of computer-based testing. Students interact with CBAs, and for many students this means they are more engaged. Computer-based assessment questions are enhanced with technology features that are not possible on a paper test, such as manipulating the graphics or listening to a story. Future CBAs will allow for computer-adaptive testing, meaning the tests will adjust the difficulty of questions to a student’s responses and provide greater score precision. Additionally, future assessments will result in test results available within minutes instead of weeks or months. (It is important to note that during this first year of the AMP, test results will not be available until the Fall of 2015.) Finally, the use of CBAs means districts will no longer have to track, ship, and manage hundreds of paper tests and answer booklets.

As we are all very aware, a new day has dawned when it comes to technology in our society and in our schools…and large-scale assessments are the latest in a long list of education modernizations that involves pushing paper and pencil aside to make way for 21st Century digital tools.

Parents are encouraged to learn more about the AMP and to experience a computer-based assessment for themselves. Additional information is available on the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development website (, and directions for accessing the technology practice tests are available on the CRSD website (

Knowledge, Grit and Character – Happy New Year

And just like that, it is suddenly 2015.   January marks a year since the CRSD Snippets has been appearing weekly in the Copper River Record.     We’ve covered a lot of subjects and passed along bits of information that I hope brought you and our classrooms closer together.

If ever there was a year to write a weekly article for the local paper, it would be 2014.   Our community and schools have gone through significant change and from the looks of things, our state is about to experience a very difficult time as it balances spending and dramatically decreasing revenue.   If you follow Alaska news even a little, you can foresee that 2015 will include shifts in policy and reductions in spending from the AK legislature.   It could be a very difficult year for Alaska’s economy.

However, even with all the changes and challenges we are experiencing, it pales in comparison to the changes that have occurred in our society over the last one hundred years.   Much of what we take for granted in our daily lives would have been hard to imagine for those who lived a century ago.

In 1915 Alexander Graham Bell made the first coast-to-coast phone call.   It was truly a headline event.   The the-first-telephone-developed-everettJanuary 26, 1915 front page of the New York Times included the headline, “Phone to Pacific from Atlantic.”  The article includes exclamations such as, “4,750-Mile Conversation” and “First Voice Across the Continent.”   President Woodrow Wilson is quoted as insightfully saying, “It appeals to the imagination to speak across the continent.”   Even President Wilson’s imagination could not have comprehended all that has developed in telecommunications.

Also in 1915, the first photograph of Pluto was published.   Back then, they didn’t even know what it was they were looking at.  Over a decade later it was discovered that they were looking at the tenth largest object to orbit the sun (based on no scientific reasoning at all, I’m still calling it a planet). The photo was blurring and void of texture, yet it was cutting edge science to photograph something so distant.

In 1915, the world was also in the midst of its first global conflict.   The First World War was horrific and an entire generation of young men was decimated as nation fought against nation.   A new technology, U-boat submarines, terrorized 1915’s primary mode of international travel as they lurked beneath the surface unseen.   To those living in 1915, the outcome of the war was uncertain.

Now, one hundred years later, technology has advanced the good and the bad. Not only can I call coast to coast, I can video chat with someone on another continent using a phone I carry in my pocket (even Antarctica – shout out to Philip Baur).   In 2015, the New Horizon planetary probe will reach Pluto, the first BB78C6C4-36E0-4F89-B893405F233654F8such spacecraft to do so.   The close up videos and pictures promise to be spectacular.   And despite our accomplishments, evil has advanced its mission to annihilate freedom.   Terror on the sea has moved to the skies by using airplanes as missiles against innocent civilians.

I don’t know about you, but the new year reminds me that our mission isn’t simply to prepare students for the next test, it is to equip them for life’s opportunities and challenges.   The lessons of the last one hundred years remind me that our students need knowledge, grit and character to seize opportunities and overcome challenges.   As the tools we use continue to develop, our students need to learn how to use technology and not let technology use them.   That means they will need a greater measure of knowledge, grit, and unwavering character.

The young men and women of 1915 would go on to lead us through a unprecedented time of war and technological advance.   They did it by earning their grades, not expecting them.   They worked hard, under much less convenient circumstances than we enjoy.   And they had the character that didn’t wince at hardship, faced down tyranny, and sacrificed so others could enjoy the blessings of freedom.

If we look back to 1915, we’ll quickly realize we have big shoes to fill.   But, we have some amazing resources.   We have more money, more conveniences, and amazing technologies for educating students.   I hope those looking back from 2115 will see that we also had courageous grit and character.

Happy New Year!