The Anchorage School District (ASD) has partnered with AASB in promoting asset-based youth development for more than a decade, and has collaborated closely with Alaska ICE from the beginning. ASD adopted the assets framework in 1997, for the first time articulating what the community wanted for its young people, and affirming the role of supportive adults in building assets in youth. ASD, with support from Alaska ICE, has over time embedded a commitment to asset-building throughout the district, and with partners throughout the community.
As understanding and implementation of the assets framework grew in schools, it became clear that asset-building is a concrete and practical way to build positive school climate, student connectedness, and social-emotional learning and employability (SEL) skills, all of which are associated with academic achievement and healthy life choices. ASD collaborated with Alaska ICE in developing and piloting a School Climate and Connectedness Survey in 2005. ASD adopted SEL standards and benchmarks in 2006, and is working to effectively infuse SEL into classroom instruction through professional development, coaching, and other support to schools and staff. ASD’s pioneering work in climate, connectedness, and SEL has attracted national attention, and is providing leadership within the state.
Alaska ICE’s partnership with United Way of Anchorage and the Anchorage Youth Development Coalition (AYDC) over the years has also proved valuable with trainings and technical assistance to over 200 community groups, organizations, businesses, media outlets and parents. As a result of these collaborative efforts, more youth programs are incorporating strength-based asset strategies into their strategic planning efforts, funding requests, evaluations and services to youth.
“Through its innovative and far-reaching programs, Anchorage is taking bold and effective steps to help their young people graduate and lead healthy, productive lives. Anchorage serves as an example to inspire and educate other communities across the nation to tackle the challenges facing their city and young people, and to implement initiatives that give them the essential resources they need to succeed in life.”
– Marguerite W. Kondracke, President and CEO for America’s Promise Alliance
The Anchorage School District (ASD) adopted the Developmental Assets framework as a basis for youth development and academic achievement in 1997. Since then, the ASD office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (SDFS) has led intentional asset building with students, staff, and families throughout the district. Many of these and other school-based efforts that have been instrumental in advancing student success are highlighted in a new book: Helping Kids Succeed ~ Anchorage School District Style.
After 10 years of applying the asset building message in the district, SDFS and ASD staff have firmly embedded the developmental assets framework into the vocabulary of the district. The Anchorage School District hopes the efforts noted within this book will inspire other districts and schools to enhance their own youth development endeavors through the adoption of the Developmental Assets framework.
AYDC sponsored Youth Development Academies for frontline staff of local youth-serving organizations in 2010: all 40 participants reported improved skills to better serve their youth. One YDA participant had this to say:
“The Youth Development Academy changed the way I work with my youth. I’m more aware of what I’m doing when I’m with them, and I am more intentional.”
SEL in the Anchorage School District
The Anchorage School District (ASD) has developed and implemented SEL curriculum at multiple grade levels in several schools (elementary, middle, and high schools) since 2006.
The Anchorage School Board unanimously adopted Social-Emotional Learning Standards and Benchmarks for students in August 2006. Adopted at the same time was a continuum for Culturally Responsive Education that identifies outcomes and standards for educators and schools in the areas of attitudes, environment, curriculum, teaching strategies, and family/community involvement.
The George Lucas Educational Foundation has created several videos showing SEL in action in schools across the country. They have produced two videos showcasing SEL in the Anchorage School District.
Cooperative Arithmetic: How to Teach Math as a Social Activity
A master teacher at ASD establishes a cooperative-learning environment in an upper-elementary classroom.
(Video: 9 min)
Educating Hearts: A Districtwide Commitment to Teaching How to Care
The Anchorage School District’s investment in social and emotional learning is paying off both socially and academically. (Video: 11 min)
“How we use the 40 Developmental Assets to guide our actions in classrooms and throughout the school is just as important as the academic content that is taught, if we expect the student to learn and thrive.”
— Anchorage Secondary School Administrator