This week on Kenai Conversation, we spoke with Jane Beck, Executive Director of Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula; Kenney Daher, a Site Coordinator with Project GRAD's Alaska Native Education Program; and Shellie Worsfold, an Academic Afterschool Coach for Project GRAD.
A lot of schools in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are in the borough's cities, connected to most of the peninsula through the road system. But others are more remote, accessible only by plane or boat. And it can be hard for students in those communities to access the same opportunities as others.
Project GRAD is a national initiative to close that opportunity gap and get more students in rural communities through high school and beyond. The local branch of Project GRAD partners with the district, local nonprofits and other entities to bring resources and programming to students in nine of the most isolated Kenai Peninsula schools.
I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to the Dena’ina people, descendants of Mount Susitna, the Sleeping Lady, for allowing me as a visitor on their beloved lands. I am also mindful and honored to be welcomed by the Suqpiaq people, to connect with them on the cherished lands of their ancestors. I respect and honor their homelands and history.
Thank you for joining us as we come together after many months of separation and isolation. It is my hope that this gathering will be a gentle yet rejuvenating place for all of us to connect, laugh a little, share, and learn from one another. The theme, Fostering Joy and Resilience, has been driving us through the planning and choice of presenters. I’m confident that with all of us here together, we will indeed rejuvenate in this spirit.
Thank you to all of the presenters, youth leaders, Project GRAD staff, and the Dept. of Education Alaska Native Education program grant for making this conference possible. And thank you to the students, families, communities, and educators for having the confidence in us to participate in what I hope will be an uplifting couple of days.
Jane Beck, Executive Director
Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula
PGKP Youth Supporters: Kenny Daher, Kyle Darbonne, Oliver Beck, Selina Mach, Anna Meredith, and Alex Ravelo PGKP Conference Organizers: Jane Beck; Executive Director and Celeste Novak; Communications Manager
This event is made possible by the U.S. Department of Education and Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula.