Announcing the Forum's new Education Advisory Council

Alaska Humanities Forum is proud to announce a new seven-member stakeholder advisory council for its Rose Cross-Cultural Exchange Programs: Educator Cross-Cultural Immersion (ECCI), Sister School Exchange (SSE), and Creating Cultural Competence of Rural Early Career Teachers Programs (C3). For over 15 years, the Alaska Humanities Forum has been using cultural immersion, reflective learning, and place-based exploration to better prepare and connect educators and youth in both rural and urban communities across Alaska. This new Education Advisory Council will provide input and suggestions from educators and partners in the field on curriculum revision and cultural mentoring to move the programs forward. Advisory council members will also assist in engaging broader audiences in conversations around cross-cultural competency, help to plan public workshops, and identify new needs/opportunities for youth and educators in the areas of humanities and culture.

“It is really exciting to have colleagues, including program alumni, familiar with the work of the Alaska Humanities Forum, as members of this council,” said Carmen Davis, Director of Education and Youth Programs at the Forum. “We are listening for ways to better complement the efforts of our school districts, Alaska Native Organizations and other partners in the cross-cultural, humanities, social, and civic education.” The Education Advisory Council is made up of alumni and partner representation from ECCI , SSE, and C3, and also from project partners including Northwest Arctic Borough School District, Anchorage School District, and Alaska Native Organizations. There are also members who have worked with Alaska Humanities Forum in other aspects of humanities and cultural competencies.

Council members were selected on the basis of their familiarity and support of the Forum’s Rose Cross-Cultural Exchange program, their commitment to innovation, and dedication to our core focus areas of work – building mutual respect and understanding across cultures with an emphasis between rural and urban Alaska.

The 2017 Alaska Humanities Forum's Education Advisory Council members:

Jeffrey Smith, Juneau C3 Alumnus, Sister School Exchange Teacher Alumnus

Jeffrey Smith moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Alaska in the summer of 2012, where he participated in the Forum’s Creating Cultural Competence of Rural Early Career Teachers Project. As a teacher in Tuntutuliak for 3 years, Jeff became enamored with the cultures, landscapes and people of Alaska. He now resides in Juneau where he is the Regional Coordinator of Southeast Regional Resource Center’s Adult Education Program.

Patrina Danielle Riha, Anchorage | Sister School Exchange Teacher, Alaska Native Cultural Charter School Born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Danielle moved to Alaska and taught and inspired middle school students in Togiak and New Stuyahok for seven years. Currently, she teaches middle school and 5th grade now and then at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School in Anchorage while pursuing a Ph.D. in Cultural Curriculum. Danielle received the Disney Hand Award in 2005 for creativity and innovation in the classroom. Her passion is about guiding students to love learning and become leaders.

Alison Jech Hadley, Buckland C3 Alumna, Teacher Alison Jech Hadley is a secondary mathematics teacher in the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, a C3 alum, and a former Sister School Exchange teacher. She has fostered a passion for sharing her love of learning and creating positive change through hands on exploration of cultures with her students and colleagues.

Karen Beranek, Unalakleet National Humanities Center Teacher Advisory Council, Social Studies and Science Facilitator Karen Beranek relocated to rural Alaska after teaching in urban Michigan. For 14 years she taught Native Alaskan students in the Bering Strait School District. Currently she serves as an instructional support resource and pedagogical coach for History and Science teachers in the Bering Strait School District. She strives to develop lessons that incorporate art, music, literature and drama into the Sciences and History. Karen feels that the Humanities enrich our lives, help define us as individuals, and anchor us to our communities.

Karen Thompson, Metlakatla | Cultural, educational, social and mental health program leadership

"I am so excited to be involved with the Rose Cross-Cultural Exchange. I completed my Bachelor's in 1995 and was fortunate to have classes in cultural competence with Dr. Richard Dana. I have lived all my life in Metlakatla and as recent as the 70s worked with pioneers to ask young people "what is a Tsimshian?" We have been fortunate with the Annette Islands Schools to be teaching Sm-algyax, our language to the 0-3 year olds with their parents. I have lived all of my life in Metlakata; my mother is Tsimshian and father Yupik/German from Dillingham. These are exciting times with the Native Languages at the Legislative level coupled with building within systems mutual respect and understanding across cultures. I remain humbled and ready to emphasize the importance of education."

Mariko Kisada Kinikin, Fairbanks ECCI Alumna Mariko Kinikin is the librarian at Ben Eielson Jr/Sr High School and has taught in various subject areas, including math, music, and technology. She has participated in the Alaska Humanities Forum’s Educator Cross-Cultural Immersion and Rose Cross Cultural Exchange. An avid photographer and amateur filmmaker, she enjoys producing media for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and helping students enter contests and apply for grants.

Tom Cyrus, Kiana | Maniilaq Association

Tom Cyrus moved from the East coast to the Northwest Arctic region of Alaska in 1981 with his wife Jeanne with the intent of teaching in a remote setting. During this time he served as a K-12 Special Education teacher, Alternative Education Teacher and Middle/High Humanities and Language Arts teacher. Along the way Jeanne and Tom adopted six children from the village of Kiana. After 20 years of teaching in Buckland and Kiana he retired to the village of Kiana. Within the month, Tom was drafted by the city council to fill the vacant City Administrator position which he agreed to do for one year. He then opened a family restaurant in the community. After a number of tragedies in the community, Tom felt his skills might be better put to use as the Village Based Counselor for the Maniilaq Association. He later transferred into the Supervisor position for the Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation program. He has been working for Maniilaq for the past 12 years. Tom also serves on the State Independent Living Council (SILC), the Alaska Interagency Youth Transition Council and acts as Secretary for the Alaska Tribal Vocation Rehabilitation Consortium.

Eleanor McCrary (alternate) Noorvik | C3 Alumna

Eleanor McCrary is a veteran educator with five years’ experience in bush schools. Eleanor is passionate about improving Native education via development of curriculum culturally relevant for Native children living in rural areas; a passion fueled in part by her desire to provide the best education possible for her two Native children.


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