WIN Minutes 09-03-13

Nenana Wellness Coalition

September 3, 2013
There were 9 in attendance today, including: Kat McElroy, David Poppe, Jessica Durtsche, Tim Horn, Virginia Young, Bonnie Reed, Mary Alexander, Evelyn, Johnny and Ephraim Verhagen, Amy Verhagen & Sherri Carottini.
We enjoyed beef beet borscht, fresh mixed green salads, walnuts with raisins, sliced cheese and Ritz crackers for lunch.

The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.

WELCOME followed by the READING OF MISSION STATEMENT, by this week’s chair-person: Tim Horn.

PRAYER was led by Evelyn Verhagen, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE.

PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were no additions to the agenda.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Posted on the WIN link at and submitted electronically to the WIN e-list.

INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: Evelyn introduced her sister-in-law, Amy; Amy married Sam’s brother, Josh Verhagen.

Meet Sherri Carottini, Nenana’s New Principle: Sherri opened her remarks by asking if we had any questions. She was asked to tell us about herself. She said she was born and raised in a farm community in the NE corner of Pennsylvania. She entered the Air Force after high school, serving two years in Texas and three in Germany. When she left the service, she said, she just bummed around for a while. Ultimately, at age 27, she decided to go to college. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Communication. Later she got a master’s in Communication. She then got a bachelor’s of science degree in teaching English. She taught one year in Bankok and did not like the climate. Then she taught television production in New Rochelle, New York. She got her teaching credentials and taught English in Yonkers, New York, and the Bronx, where, she said, “You learn to be real.” She has a lot of fond memories of those times, she said.
Sherri and her husband had been making trips out west on holiday and decided they would like to try working there. She obtained a position working for a school district in New Mexico, near a Navajo reservation. Her principle there encouraged her to become a principle herself. She went back to school again, this time to get a master’s degree in Education Leadership to prepare her for stepping into administrative roles. She worked as a principle in New Mexico, then began looking for further challenges. She said she put her resume out on a web site, and was surprised to get a phone call from Eric Gephart, asking her if she would be interested in coming to Alaska. Her initial interview was via Skype. She was then selected as one of two candidates chosen to be interviewed in person. Her flight to Alaska was delayed so she ended up not arriving until three AM, spending the day being toured around Nenana, then participating in a public interview process of which she remembers, “very little.”
She was offered and accepted the position as principle for the Nenana City Public School. Her husband is still in New Mexico. He will join her here when he finishes tying up loose ends including selling their home and finishing out his job. She is purchasing a small home here in Nenana and “have already fallen in love with Nenana. It is the small town that everyone wants and no one believes really exists.” She is excited by the new adventure. She has gone for a long drive across the Denali Highway and is enthralled with the beauty. She is excited to experience her first Alaska winter.
Tim asked her what has she learned is important for education? “Relationship building,” she replied. She said it is important for kids to see that you are real, you make mistakes, you are learning, you love what you do. She added that teachers need to know the content of what they are teaching, they need to know how to teach. She sees her job as helping teachers learn how to teach, to learn to be better teachers. “Education,” she said, “Should be fun. You have to catch student’s interest.” She believes students need to be able to see that you are a human. “Learn people’s cultures, don’t be afraid and don’t be offended,” she said.
Virginia asked why high school students needed to spend an entire year studying British Literature. Sherri said she herself enjoyed Shakespeare and Beowulf and enjoyed teaching them. ”It is where our (English) language came from.” She said that knowing the background of a culture is a big deal for the educational process. She does not want the emphasis on science and technology to create a disconnect from the arts.
Mary asked if there are plans to have adult education activities again, as that had been successful in the past. Sherri said she is open to that idea. She said funding is always the issue but that she would have no problem opening the school to that. She would like to start a GED program. She is particularly interested in finding someone willing to teach beading and Native Art.
David asked about specific policy changes. She has changed the absence policy. 14 absences in any quarter would cause a student to be recommended for possible credit loss. Three tardies will not equal one absence. She said she herself has not made any policy changes about food sales in the school but that changes have come down from the federal level prohibiting selling cakes, candies, soft drinks, etc. in school. They will need to brain storm projects besides bake sales for funding student activities.
Tim asked about project based curriculum. Sherri said that this requires a lot of front work by the teachers before the classes begin.” Teachers have to be coaches, facilitators of the student projects. They have to train kids to find the answers for themselves and demonstrate to them how to be critical thinkers.” She explained about the Core Curriculum, which Alaska has adopted and adapted.
WELLNESS THOUGHT: Keep your eye on the ball, your shoulder to the wheel, your nose to the grindstone, and you’ll have no idea where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or why. Open your eyes, put your shoulders back, smell the air, and keep on keeping on. Jerry Garcia
Sherri: School board meeting tomorrow night, 6:3O pm, in the Pit at NCPS.
Mary: They have been really busy, but it is a treat to be able to make it to WIN, because her young grandson is up in Fairbanks.

Tim: Soccer tournament at TriValley this weekend, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Paul Verhagen will be speaking with us next week on researching family history.
Book Club meeting was rescheduled to 9-08-13, 7 PM, at the Harvey’s where they will discuss Louisa May Alcott’s Behind A Mask.
And Karen Harvey said they had a “not bad” honey harvest

David: Thanks Mary for putting in the school garden. It really looks good.
He has his nephew, Eric, up visiting from Colorado. They are planning an overnight camping trip in Denali Thurs/Friday.
He’s been bull-dozing and burning, cleaning those derelict lots on 7th and D streets.

Virginia: Has been planting peonies. After David rototilled, she and her help dug two thousand holes in two hours.

Kat: Is all about the garden. Cauliflower looks great. She’s got a couple little water melons. A few artichokes.
Dancing in the Streets is coming, September 13th. Anyone wanting to enter the parade should contact Maryellen.

Jessica: Will be leaving for two weeks for RHS training. She is eager to meet her cohort.

Jeannie: The shop is coming along well. Bob got several panels in place in the roof. Move in is slated for before November.
The Troxels will be out of town and Jeannie will be tending to their two young ones for eleven days.
Audrey is recuperating, is on a walker, and pretty much back to her old self except for stamina.
The fifth Sunday of the month they are having a sing-along at the Assembly of God church, 6-98 PM.

Bonnie: Assembly of God church is having their back-to0school picnic tonight, sixish—-after soccer practice. If the weather is rainy they will have it at the Rec Center.

Amy: She and Josh are remodeling the house they bought on the corner of 7th and C.

Evelyn: Jonathan just turned two!


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