Meet the CRSD – Ramona Henspeter

This is a special edition of “Meet the CRSD.”   We are presenting our one and only home education support teacher, Ramona Henspeter, who will be retiring in December.   In addition to the usual interview, we are including tributes from students, co-workers and family members who have benefited from Ramona’s dedication and wisdom.   Please join us in honoring someone who epitomizes the word “teacher.”

Name: Ramona Henspeter


Birthday: March 25th

Role in the CRSD: Supervising Teacher for Home Educators

 Primary Campus: State-wide

Where else have you taught? Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Gore, New Zealand; St. Paul, Minnesota; Kenny Lake School; Kluti-Kaah Head StartRamona photo

Where are you originally from? Moose Lake, Minnesota

Favorite Book/Author/TV Show: Bright Valley of Love by: Edna Hatlestad Hong

Favorite Music Genre: Eclectic

Favorite Place in Alaska: Tangle Lakes because it’s such a beautiful, varied environment, rich with memories from over the past 30+ years.

Favorite Place Outside of Alaska: Australia – we lived there and traveled extensively during our time there. Hardly a day goes by when a memory doesn’t come to mind.

Hobbies: Piano, singing, hiking, time with family

Favorite Aspect of Teaching: I love working with the homeschool parents, sharing what I learned during the 20 years that I was a homeschool parent myself.

One Interesting Thing About You That Might Be Surprising: I lived overseas for the first four years of my married life (Australia and New Zealand).

Favorite Beverage: Root beer floats

Favorite Snack: Fresh Fruit

In One Sentence, What Advice Do You Have for Students? Because you’re a special individual with unique God-given skills, abilities, and personality, strive to do your best with what you have . . . and be kind to those around you.

Mrs. Henspeter first worked in the Copper River School District in 1981. After a break to homeschool her children, she returned in 2009.   Send Ramona an email, buy her a bottle of water root beer float, or drop off a bowl of fresh fruit to let her know how much we appreciate her serving students and families in the CRSD.


“Ramona has been amazingly helpful and supportive to us with our home school journey.” The Hellers

Where could a person begin to possibly say how wonderful Ramona has been to all the homeschool families? Her qualities are so numerous, positive and genuine. She exemplifies all of the character traits that we strive to develop in our own children. She is knowledgeable, supportive and encouraging, fair and balanced, open to ideas, patient, understanding, well-organized, thorough, a consummate professional and yet down-to-earth and a good friend to everyone. Ramona has set a high standard of excellence in our homeschool experience and we thank her from the bottom of our hearts! The Rogers

I’ve known Ramona for a short time, but as a first time homeschooling family, we have received so much genuine Ramonaencouragement and support for the path we have chosen. I can only imagine what families who have experienced her support for many, many years may be feeling as she moves on. Thank you, Ramona, for caring and supporting so many who have chosen to educate a bit differently. The Scribners

Ramona is that rare combination of gentleness, wisdom, graciousness, and humor. We have been so very blessed to have her here to help us! The Rancks

It is hard to convey how much our family has appreciated Ramona. She has truly been a gift and a blessing. Ramona is such an encourager and we are grateful for the time she took to invest in and enrich our homeschool experience. Thank you! The Breivogels

While working as the administrative assistant to Upstream Learning I was very grateful to Ramona for how she steered the program towards what it should be, friendly, expansive and innovative for our home school families. Thank you Ramona! Lanette Phillips

Ramona has been an absolute treat to have in our lives. I’m thankful for her knowledge and spirit in homeschooling my Daughter. The Buss Family

Many, many thanks to Ramona for her willingness to do her job in an outstanding way . . . to go above and beyond what was required. The Endres

Ramona has been such a blessing to our family. She goes beyond her job by her helpfulness and genuine care for us. The Korths

Ramona has been such a wonderful support to our family in our journey with home education. Her caring spirit, vast knowledge of learning styles and curriculum and her understanding from having personal experience have been invaluable to us. The Abbotts

It is very hard to say in one or two sentences of much Ramona has meant to as we trudged along the homeschooling road over the last many years. The LeMasters

You have been a joy to work with.   Everyday here at Upstream Learning is an adventure together. We have mostly highs, a bit of chaos, lots of busyness and always fun while working in our corner of the world.   You will be missed.   Mary H2

Alaska lawmaker wants to increase requirements for rural schools – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Alaska News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A state lawmaker is proposing an increase to the minimum number of students required to make schools eligible for state funding.

Source: Alaska lawmaker wants to increase requirements for rural schools – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Alaska News

Students, parents could be stunned by new state test results | Alaska Dispatch News

In what amounts to a startling change for Alaska public schools, new standardized tests taken by more than 70,000 students last spring present a far more pessimistic portrait about student achievement than we’ve seen in the past. The tests are more difficult and the scores are lower.

Source: Students, parents could be stunned by new state test results | Alaska Dispatch News

CRSD Snippets – AMP Results

Last Spring, Alaskan students participated in the first administration of the Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP) Assessment.   According to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), these new tests assess “students’ understanding of the state’s standards for English and math.” DEED also explains how AMP is different from the Standards Based Assessments (SBA) that students have taken since 2005.   “On the AMP tests, students answer fewer multiple-choice questions than in the SBA. In some questions, students must analyze the question, perform multi-step tasks, solve problems, and apply what they know to new situations. In short, AMP does more to measure higher-order thinking.”

The new assessments have not come without controversy.   Concerns have been expressed by parents, educators and school boards.   DEED has responded by publishing several AMP related documents at   Based on DEED’s timelines, some school districts planned to distribute individual student AMP results at the 2015 Fall Parent/Teacher Conferences. Unfortunately, the Screenshot 2015-10-23 11.51.10CRSD and other districts were notified last week that AMP results will not be publicly released until mid-November or later, according to DEED’s estimates.

In preparation for you to receive AMP results for your student(s), the following information is provided by DEED in a pamphlet titled “A Parent’s Guide to AMP’s First Results”:

  • “Last spring, students in grades 3 to 10 took the Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP) for the first time. AMP is the state’s challenging assessment of rigorous standards for English and math. Standards are expectations for what students should know and be able to do.
  • This October [now November], families will receive their first reports on how their students performed on AMP. Your school can help you understand the report. Regardless of your students’ scores, the only consequence is they will receive support to improve their learning.
  • Students’ scores on AMP placed them in one of four achievement categories: Level 1, 2, 3, or 4, from low to high, as defined by Alaska educators. Levels 3 and 4 represent meeting the standards. Levels 1 and 2 represent partially meeting the standards, not failure.
  • Many students who scored proficient on Alaska’s former tests did not meet the standards in AMP. That’s because the new standards are higher and the tests are more difficult. It’s like a baseball player hitting .300 in the minor leagues one year and .240 in the major leagues the following year. The player hasn’t declined in skill, but he’s in a more rigorous league. Under AMP, students aren’t suddenly less skilled and teachers aren’t less capable than before. But they are being asked to meet higher expectations. Over time, as students and teachers work with the new standards, AMP scores should rise. This has happened in other states that have adopted higher standards and assessments.
  • What makes the AMP tests difficult? On the AMP tests, students answer fewer multiple-choice questions. In some questions, students must analyze the question, perform multi-step tasks, solve problems, and apply what they know to new situations. In short, AMP does more to measure higher-order thinking. AMP’s reading questions require students to read and understand literary or informational texts, identify central ideas, decide what words mean, and use evidence from the text to support their conclusions. Questions about writing require students to edit and revise texts by putting sentences into logical order, correcting errors in the choice of words, and correcting grammar, punctuation, and spelling. AMP’s math tests require students to explain and apply math concepts and carry out math procedures with precision; solve a range of complex problems; and analyze complex real-world situations and use math models to solve problems.
  • Why did Alaska raise its standards? We realized that many students who were proficient in our former standards were not prepared academically for jobs, career training, the military, and education after high school. Alaska does not compare well with other states on national tests in reading and math. Our graduates will compete for jobs against people from around the United States and, in some cases, the world. For our students’ sake, we have to take a hard look at whether we are meeting this challenge.”

More information from the “A Parent’s Guide to AMP’s First Results” brochure and other AMP related information can be found at:

Once DEED releases AMP results to districts, CRSD teachers and administrators will begin the process of reviewing the data and learning how to interpret the new reports.   When you receive your student’(s’) AMP reports, please call your child’s teacher or principal if you have questions or concerns.

Please keep in mind, students evidence learning in many different ways in a variety of subject areas and activities. Statewide assessments such as AMP are only one means for measuring student achievement.   Teachers in the CRSD employ a number of assessment tools designed to guide instruction, ensure academic progress, and celebrate each student’s strengths.

Lack of Collaboration? Maybe It’s You – Finding Common Ground – Education Week

It’s easy for us to look at a parent, student or colleague who doesn’t want to engage with us, and blame them for the lack of engagement. However, before we do that we need to look at how we are approaching them and see if there is something we can change within our approach.

Source: Lack of Collaboration? Maybe It’s You – Finding Common Ground – Education Week

Parent-Teacher Conferences: Snippets – October 15, 2015

Parent-teacher conferences are conducted twice each year in the Copper River School District. Fall conferences are an especially important opportunity to establish baseline performance and set learning goals for the school year.   Even though parent-teacher conferences are not the only time parents should talk with their child’s teacher, it is a pre-scheduled opportunity for a longer visit.

This year’s fall conferences will include initial data for the Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP) statewide exams students took for the first time last Spring. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development will release the data later this month just before the October 30th conferences.   Teachers will share data for those students who participated in the assessments.

20150930_105500For parents of students in grades 9-12, teachers will provide information on student performance during the first Trek and first two Base-camps.   In addition to the initial positive feedback on the new schedule, it is important for us to receive your input regarding your child’s participation and achievement.

Research has clearly established what common sense has always known – 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:

1) 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?

The above questions can help guide the discussion regarding both academics and socials skills.

Soon you will receive an invitation to parent-teacher conferences for October 30th.   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. If you don’t receive an invitation in the mail, please contact the school.

Let’s encourage all of our students by achieving the goal of 100% parent-teacher conference attendance for our students (phone conferences count).   We can send a powerful message to our youth that education is a priority in our homes and community.