• Category 2

    Selected in 2013

  • Grades: pre k - 12
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 150
    Student Enrollment: 32
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 0%
    White/Caucasian: 0%
    Hispanic: 0%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 0%
    Native American: 100%
    Other: 0%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:12
    % Reduced Lunch: 100%
    % ELL Learners: 31%
    Founded: 1958
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Craig Roach
  • CONTACT:
    PO Box 6039
    Mentasta Lake, AK 99780
    907-291-2317
    croach@agsd.us
Mentasta Lake Katie John School
Mentasta Lake, AK
“Mentasta Lake Katie John School partners with the community Tribal Council.The Tribal Council provides curriculum focused on culturally relevant values. This program practices traditional concepts as its platform. The Prevention Coordinator teaches these core values to K-7 students on an after school rotational basis throughout the week."
Describe the most successful activity your school has initiated to strengthen ties to your community.
The most successful activity to strengthen community ties is having community dinners to promote student achievement. Mentasta Lake Katie John School schedules a dinner a month. These gatherings are usually in conjunction with community clean up, basketball games, parent teacher conferences, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day and Easter. Most importantly, awards banquets are when parents and community celebrate student successes.
Describe your school culture and explain changes you’ve taken to improve it.
The school’s culture is based on community expectations. Students must attend school, respect teachers, and continue to develop self -respect. Mentasta Lake Katie John School partners with the community Tribal Council. The Tribal Council provides curriculum focused on culturally relevant values. This program practices traditional concepts as its platform. The Prevention Coordinator teaches these core values to K-7 students on an after school rotational bases throughout the week.
Describe how data is used to improve student achievement and inform decision making.
Student data is used to drive teachers' instruction. Teachers utilize data from daily, weekly, monthly, as well as, benchmark testing and state required proficiency exams. Currently, our district, Alaska Gateway School District, is using MAPP testing to determine student achievement gaps. Our school is using differentiating instruction to help students learn by grouping them according to their ability in order to reinforce or teach a new concept. Student data is continually analyzed and discussed during our weekly PLCs. Mentasta Lake Katie John School, each year, constructs data walls that display student achievement.
Describe the program or initiative that has had the greatest positive effect on student achievement, including closing achievement or opportunity gaps, if applicable.
The greatest positive effect on student achievement is promoting perfect attendance and being on the honor roll. This program is first driven by student behavior. The reward system that promotes good behavior as well as attendance is Wii-rewards. Students who have perfect attendance with no tardies, all their work completed satisfactorily, and good behavior are eligible to participate in one hour every two weeks of Wii time during the school day. This program helps drive the perfect attendance initiative. At the end of each semester those students who have perfect attendance are eligible to participate in a drawing for an iPod, iPad, or flat screen TV. This fall semester seven students met all requirements for perfect attendance. We also acknowledge students with one and two absences. If students have one absence, they qualify for a one hundred dollar drawing or if they have two absences they qualify for the fifty dollar drawing. Those students who achieve a full year of perfect attendance receive a North Face jacket with their name and school logo embroidered on it. Each semester, students have improved their attendance that leads to a consistent increase in the number of honor roll students.
Explain how Title I funds are used to support your improvement efforts.
The district Title I teacher visits our rural site, a 50-mile commute each way, once a week. All students qualify for free and reduced lunch and therefore participate in the Title I program. Students are provided one-on-one and small group instruction to reinforce reading comprehension skills and focus on data driven student learning needs. Students are also provided supplemental materials to take home. After the Title I teacher completes the individual or small group instruction, she discusses concerns and improvement with their teachers and provides informative feedback.
Describe your philosophy of school change or improvement.
School change must include administration teachers and classified staff as well as community involvement. All staff model good behavior and effective communication and this expectation is repaid by students and community. Staff is consistently positive and encouraging to all students and maintain a healthy open door policy within the community. The school environment is warm and welcoming to all visitors and is perceived as transformational.
Identify the critical professional development activities you use to improve teaching and student learning.
The first activity used to improve teaching and student learning is effectively using our districts writing curriculum. During PLC time, staff assess student writing, reevaluate mode of delivery and determine areas of weakness. Teachers team-teach the writing process to acquire ideas and to ensure consistency.

Teachers utilize MAPP data to determine achievement gaps, group students and develop teaching strategies. This past quarter, the focus has been reading and summarizing informational text. Mode of instruction is standardized school-wide, and student work is collected and reviewed. Students are pulled out once a week for 30 minutes for small group instruction.

We use researched-based practices to teach vocabulary. Teachers build a vocabulary wall that students, according to age group, need to know. Students have also built individual vocabulary walls surrounding their desk or learning center. Each student station depicts individually selected vocabulary words, including three synonyms for each given word. Student drawn illustrations assist in capturing the meaning of each word. The goal is to improve each student’s vocabulary bank in an effort to further reading comprehension.
Describe specific programs in place to ensure that families are involved in the success of your school and students.
All staff reach out and listen carefully to community input, and empower active and meaningful decision making, which fosters ownership and community buy in. Mentasta Lake Katie John School works intentionally to develop and foster an active School Advisory Committee. Two-way communication with parents and community is always ongoing and constructive.

The school closely works with the village tribal council office and Prevention Coordinator. The Prevention Coordinator comes into the school four days a week and teaches local customs, values and language with curriculum developed through the Mount Sanford Tribal Counsel. This curriculum focuses on reading, writing and reinforcement of the cultural and traditional values of the community. Elders also visit the school and read to students or share traditional stories. The school also works with the Village Council Environmental Agency to teach kids how to interact and protect their environment. The village environmental representative meets with students once a week after school and provides monthly presentation within the classrooms.

Input from the community indicates that the value of community service is extremely important. By working with the village tribal administration and community leaders, the school has a volunteer service where students cut and stack wood for elders. These partnerships also create opportunities for teachers to arrange and support students venturing outside of village by working with families to house them for periodic overnights. Students learn to trap and explore cultural arts such as sewing gloves and moccasins.
What is the single most important factor in the success of your school that others could replicate?
The single most important factor in our school’s success is maintaining a warm welcoming environment where all community, staff and students have a voice that is heard. What the principal and staff have focused on specifically is changing the attitudes of the students and community about the school, and making sure that the community is deeply engaged in, and aware of, the activities that are taking place. The community knows that their principal cares for their students, and is deeply committed to each student’s success. Student and school success is celebrated. This is done to create the sense of community ownership. This sense of ownership translates to the students, who have come to feel that they have not just a role, but also an important stake in the success of the school. That sense of ownership creates compelling momentum toward success. Student performance is a result of high expectations from both the teachers and the community.
What are your school’s top two goals for the next year?
All students will achieve 90% attendance.
Mentasta Lake Katie John School will continue to work on reading comprehension and writing in order for our students to become effective global communicators.
Stats
  • Category 2

    Selected in 2013

  • Grades: pre k - 12
    School Setting: rural
    Town Population: 150
    Student Enrollment: 32
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 0%
    White/Caucasian: 0%
    Hispanic: 0%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 0%
    Native American: 100%
    Other: 0%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:12
    % Reduced Lunch: 100%
    % ELL Learners: 31%
    Founded: 1958
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Craig Roach
  • CONTACT:
    PO Box 6039
    Mentasta Lake, AK 99780
    907-291-2317
    croach@agsd.us