A group of Kodiak teachers recently returned from Washington, D.C., where they made a presentation to educators from around the country about how to blend art and culture in the classroom.
The local group, known as the Munartet Project team, made the presentation at the Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education annual meeting and conference. (Munartet is an Alutiiq word meaning “artists.”)
The Partners in Education program is designed to assist arts organizations throughout the nation to develop or expand educational partnerships with their local school systems, according to the Kennedy Center’s website.
Kodiak Island Borough School District has been a Kennedy Center partner since 1993. According to JoAnne Knight, Kodiak’s arts and culture coordinator for the Munartet Project, the local team was asked to share information and inspiration in their panel based on the Munartet Project’s reputation and success.
KIBSD Migrant Education Facilitator Katherine Simpler has been involved with the Munartet Project since it began seven years ago, and she went to DC with the Kodiak group. “I love talking about Kodiak students and the great things we do here in our district,” Simpler wrote in an email to KDM.
“Networking and meeting people from around the country was amazing. I always love to hear what other schools are doing and what is a key point that I can share with others at home to try. Also, spending time as a partner group was invaluable. All of our partners work really well together, so having fun together and bonding over culture and art was fantastic. We received a tour of the American History Museum and Portrait Gallery and learned that students can do virtual field trips through this historic place.”
The Munartet Project offers support for educators at several points as they start their careers. The project seeks to support and foster early interest, support advancement toward degree completion, and offers early induction into arts and cultural integrated teaching methods and support for teachers in their first five years of practice, according to its website.
“Arts and culture integration is not teaching art or doing art,” Knight said in an email to KDM. “It is teaching the standards in both an art form and/or a cultural form as well as a content area. Teachers receive a lot of support, exposure and training to learn how to use this approach to teaching and learning in their classrooms. Integration leads to inquiry, collaboration and creative thinking.”
While in Washington for the three-day conference, the team met with Rep. Mary Peltola, the first Alaska Native to hold a seat in Congress. The Democrat from Bethel is Yup’ik and grew up in Western Alaska villages.
Knight told KDM that Peltola was engaged in what the team had to say and excited to learn more about the work done in the Munartet Project. “I loved being able to highlight what our students need to Congresswoman Peltola and tell our story so that she can better advocate for our students,” Simpler said.
The Munartet Project is supported by a multiyear grant and led through a partnership between the Kodiak Island Borough School District, the Alutiiq Museum, the Kodiak Arts Council, Kodiak College and the Alaska State Council on the Arts.
“We received a multiyear grant from a private, non-governmental entity that believes supported, confident and competent teachers will stay in the profession longer,” said Knight. “Our method to support teachers is by croAeating a pipeline of growth. Students in high school can explore and take the beginning teacher education classes, and pre-service college students can study on-island. Kodiak Island Borough School District can offer student teaching opportunities which can lead to hire.”
Someone interested in teaching in Kodiak could become a fully licensed educator without leaving the island, Knight said. A dual credit course and internship opportunities are available for high school students interested in pursuing teaching, along with summer internship opportunities with the Kodiak Arts Council.
For college students, the Munartet Project has tuition waivers for classes at Kodiak College, University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau. It also provides access to fieldwork and student teaching, among other things. For early career teachers, it provides coaching, observation and further education opportunities.
The five-year report showed the project had 115 total participants from 2016-2021. With 44 future teachers, 29 pre-service teachers, 24 early career teachers and 18 mentor teachers or strategy keepers involved.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.