Staff Awards & Recognition

  • Awards and recognition earned by our teachers, administrators, and support staff.

    2015 Alaska History Teacher of the Year

    Congratulations to Nicole Sarrazin-Strong of Barnette Magnet School! She is the 2015 Alaska History Teacher of the Year. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History celebrates outstanding work in the classroom. A panel of teachers, administrators, and scholars from Alaska selected Nicole for her use of primary documents in the classroom, the level of inspiration she provides to students, and her career achievements in education.


    Champion of Arts Education


    The Alaska AAEC Arts Education Consortium (AAEC) has recognized six individuals and organizations from across the state who champion the arts in education. AAEC believes these champions carry the torch for arts education through high-caliber instruction, arts support, and ongoing arts promotion.

    Recipients from the Fairbanks School District are:

    Gwendolyn Brazier (Music)
    District Art Specialist Team: Jenifer Cameron, Heidi Collins, Deann Moore, Benjamin Bragonier, and Barbara Santora


    Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year
    National History Day has selected Heather Damario of West Valley High as the state Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year. Each state winner is awarded $500 and is eligible for the National Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award.

    “National History Day firmly believes that quality teachers are the best educational tools that students have,” said National History Day Executive Director Cathy Gorn. “The teachers selected as Behring award recipients are a credit to their discipline, and exemplify what it takes to be a quality educator.”

    NHD Behring Teacher of the Year Press Release


    Daniel Domke Receives Career and Technical Education Honor

    Daniel Domke Congratulations to Dan Domke!

    On Tuesday, August 5, the Alaska Workforce Investment Board named Domke the David G. Stone Secondary Vocational Training Administrator of the Year for significantly improving and promoting career and technical education.

    Domke is the district's Career and Technical Education Director but served as the principal of Hutchison High School when selected for the award.
    Domke earned the honor because he advocates for CTE programs at the local and state levels and has built relationships that enable dialogue between industry and education. He also champions new and innovative programs that support Alaska industry and encourages staff to pursue professional development and foster environments that allow students to succeed.

    Thank you, Dan for continuing to create new opportunites for district students.


    Director of Business Services Earns School Finance Certification

    Robin Mullins Congratulations to Director of Business Services, Robin Mullins! Robin has been awarded the Administrator of School Finance and Operations certification by the Association for School Business Officials International.



    Daily News-Miner: Mullins Earns School Finance Certification



    Heidi Imhof Wins State-Level Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award

    Heidi Imhof Congratulations to Heidi Imhof! Heidi is a teacher at Barnette Magnet and is one of two state winners to receive the Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award.

    Presented by National History Day, a non-profit education organization, the award recognizes teachers who have shown outstanding creativity, commitment, and inspiration in developing student interest in history.

    “I am humbled to be Alaska’s Junior Division Patricia Behring Award recipient,” said Heidi. “This award also recognizes a dedicated community of students, parents, and colleagues who stand with me to improve our History Day process at Barnette. A young part-time student pushed me to pursue National History Day in 2009. Because of her, I came to know Maida Buckley and Terrence Cole, who have been fundamental to the success of all Fairbanks students pursuing National History Day. Each student’s entry receives critical feedback from the judges they recruit for our Regional competition.”


    2014 Principal of the Year Awards

    To tBridget Lewis Michael Angaiak he applause and cheers of a joyful crowd, the school board recognized Principal Bridget Lewis of North Pole High School and Principal Michael Angaiak of Anne Wien Elementary for their recent Principal of the Year awards at the Tuesday, May 13 regular meeting.

    Bridget is the recipient of the Fairbanks Principals’ Association 2014 Secondary Principal of the Year award and Michael is the recipient of the 2014 Elementary Principal of the Year award.

    “A huge thank you to my personal family, and my school family,” said Michael. “This is absolutely a shared award.”

    “We are here as representatives of the administrative team at each building,” added Bridget. “I’ve had four great years with a community that cares about their kids. There are great things happening at North Pole High School.”

    Congratulations principals and thank you for your exceptional work!


    2014 Alaska State School Librarian of the Year

    Marit Vick Congratulations to Marit Vick! Marit is a librarian at North Pole High School and the recipient of the 2014 Alaska State School Librarian of the Year Award.

    Marit received the honor at the Alaska Library Association Conference in Anchorage on March 1, 2014.

    The Alaska Association of School Libraries presents the annual award to a librarian who operates a program that promotes the skills students need to be successful 21st century learners, is an integral part of the educational team, and who exemplifies professional involvement by sharing expertise with colleagues both locally and throughout the state.

    Marit typifies all these qualities – and more. Her Patriot Readers book club has been one of the most successful book clubs in the district with many members participating all four years of their tenure at North Pole High.

    Thank you Marit, for inspiring students now and for years to come.


    2014 Alaska Art Educator of the Year

    Jenifer Cameron Three cheers for Jenifer Cameron, the 2014 Alaska Art Educator of the Year!

    Jenifer is a districtwide art teacher and will receive the honor of Alaska Art Educator of the Year at the National Art Education Association National Convention on March 29-31, 2014.

    "This award is being given to recognize excellence in professional accomplishment and service by a dedicated art educator,” said NAEA President, Dennis Inhulsen. “Jenifer Cameron exemplifies the highly qualified art educators active in education today: leaders, teachers, students, scholars, and advocates who give their best to their students and the profession."

    Thank you Jenifer, for your dedication to students – and congratulations on a well-deserved award.


    Heather Damario Receives Local VFW Teacher Award

    Heather Damario The VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Golden Heart Post 3629 awarded West Valley High School teacher Heather Damario the Post-level Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award at a ceremony on Saturday, February 15.

    Heather teaches social studies and is known as a dedicated educator to both her colleagues and students. She has many accomplishments and facilitates numerous activities for her students including the annual History Day competition. Last year, her team won outstanding state awards at the event.

    The Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award is awarded to teachers in three categories (grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12) at the post, state, and national levels. The award recognizes educators who promote civic responsibility, American history and traditions, and flag etiquette.

    Congratulations, Heather and thank for you continuing to inspire our students!


    Accounting Services Receives Honor for Financial Reporting

    Hip Hip Hooray! The accounting services department, led by director Colleen Fitzgerald, recently received the Association of School Business Officials’ (ASBO) Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting award for having met or exceeded the program’s high standards for financial reporting and accountability. The ASBO has awarded the district with this honor for the last 23 years in a row.

    Founded in 1910, ASBO is committed to providing programs and services that promote the highest standards of school business management, professional growth, and the effective use of educational resources.

    Recognition through the Certificate of Excellence award can help strengthen a district’s presentation for bond issuance statements and promotes a high level of financial reporting.

    Congratulations to the entire department and thank you for your exemplary service.


    West Valley High School Librarian Wins Statewide Award

    Janet Madsen Principal Shaun Kraska presents the Linda K. Barrett award to librarian Janet Madsen on behalf of the Alaska Association of School Librarians.Congratulations to West Valley High School Librarian, Janet Madsen. Janet received the 2013 Linda K. Barrett Service Award at the annual Alaska Association of School Librarians (AkASL) conference in Valdez.

    The annual Linda K. Barrett award recognizes school librarians who demonstrate outstanding service to the school library profession at both the local and state level and who embrace the new and rapid changes in school libraries and education.

    Janet is known for a wealth of collaborative and innovative projects throughout the district such as the new Learning Commons model as well as Libguides. The Learning Commons model positions the school library as a dynamic media literacy hub and Libguides are custom guides that assist students in their research for specific projects and classes. Janet also provides training within the district and participates on a variety of district-wide planning activities.
    “Most importantly, our library is…a place where staff and students find much more than answers to their research and technology questions—simply because Janet is there,” said West Valley High Teacher Sean Genson.

    2013 Technology Support Person of the Year


    Misha Brenner-Gelvin Misha Brenner-GelvinCongratulations to Instructional Technology Teacher Misha Brenner-Gelvin! Misha received the Technology Support Person of the Year award at the 2013 Alaska Society for Technology (ASTE) Conference in Anchorage on Tuesday, February 26, 2013. ASTE presents the Technology Support Person of the Year award annually to honor individuals who make a positive impact on the teaching and learning process in Alaska through innovative uses of technology.

    Misha serves Ladd Elementary, Pearl Creek Elementary, and University Park Elementary, and in her role as Instructional Technology Teacher, she models lessons for teachers and students, and supports teachers in their ongoing use of technology.

    In addition to working in three schools, Misha provides iPad training to school district staff members on content creation and effective mobile device management for the school and classroom setting.

    “The principals she works with rave about her technology skills, her instructional skills, and her ability to meet the needs of both teachers and students,” says Technology Coordinator Kathy Port. “Misha is an excellent representative of all that we strive for in teaching technology to students and teachers.”

    ASTE is a non-profit professional organization founded in 1981 whose mission is to promote access to technology, connectivity to information resources and technology integration for all Alaskan learners.


    Sherilyn Siegmund-Roach Receives Local VFW Teacher Award

    Sherilyn Siegmund-Roach The VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Golden Heart Post 3629 named West Valley High School math teacher Sherilyn Siegmund-Roach, the recipient of the Post-level Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award at a ceremony on Saturday, December 15.

    Sherilyn has taught math and science in a variety of grades for 24 years in Alaska. She is known as an inspiring educator who consistently demonstrates the professional relevance of each subject and encourages civic responsibility and community service in her students. Sherilyn also participated in the establishment of the U.S. Marine Corps Junior ROTC Program at West Valley High School and consults regularly with the program instructors.

    The Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award is awarded to teachers in three categories (grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12) at the post, state, and national levels. The award recognizes educators who promote civic responsibility, American history and traditions, and flag etiquette. As a grade 9-12, post-level award winner, Sherilyn is now in consideration for the state-level award.

    Congratulations, Sherilyn and thank you for your service and dedication to our students!


    2012 Alaska Art Educator of the Year

    Margaret Donat The Alaska Art Education Association named Lathrop High School Art Teacher, Margaret Donat the 2012 Alaska Art Educator of the Year.

    Margaret is an accomplished artist who exhibits frequently throughout the region and has taught art for over 25 years at local schools including Ryan Middle, North Pole Middle, North Pole High and Lathrop High. Her colleagues describe her as an exceptional educator who is known for making time for every student. Her students consistently win state and national awards and earn among the highest AP scores in the state.

    “Margaret truly mentors every student – she puts so much time and effort into her students,” said Art Coordinator Karen Stomberg, “I have been amazed by the quality of their work.”

    Congratulations, Maragaret and thank you for fostering the talent and imaginations of our students. Our district and the community are richer for it!


    Alaska Counselor of the Year – Jeff Walters

    Jeff Walters The Alaska School Counselor Association has named Jeff Walters as Counselor of the Year. Walters is a counselor at West Valley High School.

    Walters was honored because of his exceptional leadership skills, work ethic, and enthusiasm for the profession. One of his many accomplishments is providing West Valley High School with a Gay/Straight Alliance club that has been in existence for 12 years.

    “My fellow students have described him as being a counselor who remembers and cares about every student and someone who tries his hardest to get the best for the student he serves,” said Michael Dewey, Senior Class President, in a statement.


    Jeannette Johnson Receives Career and Technical Education Award

    Jeanette Johnson The Alaska Association for Career and Technical Education (AACTE) named Hutchison High School health occupations teacher, Jeanette Johnson, the Outstanding New CTE (Career and Technical Education) Teacher of the Year.

    Jeanette engages students with her thoughtful and attentive teaching style as well as with her fascinating stories from her humanitarian deployment as an Army Captain Nurse in Pakistan. In addition to her success in the classroom, Jeannette played a key role in the establishment of a functional hospital lab where students may practice hospital activities such as checking vital signs and moving patients.

    Congratulations on your well deserved award, Jeanette!


    Christopher Benshoof Named Alaska Teacher of the Year
    Chris Benshoof

    On Sunday, November 4, Lathrop High School math teacher Christopher Benshoof was recognized as the Alaska Teacher of the Year at the annual Association of Alaska School Boards conference.

    “To be given this award is a humbling experience. There are so many educators throughout our district and state who work tremendously hard to provide a quality education to our community's children,” said Benshoof. “I was educated in the Fairbanks School District, and I am proud to be a part of it now. My success as a teacher is a direct reflection of the enthusiastic and effective education that I received, and of everything I've learned from my colleagues at Lathrop High and throughout the district.”

    As Alaska Teacher of the Year, Chris will participate in education conferences and working groups and will represent Alaska as the state’s nominee for the national teacher of the year award in Washington D.C. Additionally, he will receive technology for Lathrop High, award a college scholarship to a student, receive a scholarship to pursue an advanced degree, and attend an international space camp.

    Superintendent Pete Lewis said, “Chris is an outstanding educator. We have incredible teachers in Fairbanks and we are excited and pleased that he will represent Alaska in Washington D.C.”

    “Chris exhibits a profound depth of content knowledge and a strong commitment to instructional best practices,” said Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education, Dr. Karen Gaborik. “He connects with students in a personal and meaningful way.”

    Congratulations, Chris on this outstanding accomplishment!


    Sandra Kowalski Recognized as Secondary Principal of the Year

    Sandra Kowalski To the spirited applause of her supporters and colleagues, Sandra Kowalski, principal of Randy Smith Middle received the Fairbanks Principals’ Association’s (FPA) 2012 Secondary Principal of the Year award at a recent school board meeting.

    Sandra’s colleagues describe her as a collaborative administrator and an instructional leader who leads by example.

    Sandra has been with the school district for 4 years of which 3 have been as principal of Randy Smith Middle.

    "I am inspired by the support that I see from my fellow colleagues at Randy Smith Middle School,” said Sandra. “I’m humbled by this recognition but it really comes down to who I work with and the fabulous school that we’ve made."

    Many congratulations, Sandra on the honor of Secondary Principal of the Year and thank you for your continuing dedication to the success of students and staff at Randy Smith Middle.


    Mary Cofer Named Elementary Principal of the Year

    Mary Cofer An enthusiastic audience cheered for Principal Mary Cofer of Arctic Light Elementary at a recent school board meeting as she received the Fairbanks Principals’ Association’s (FPA) 2012 Elementary Principal of the Year award.

    Kyra Aizstrauts, University Park Elementary principal and FPA president described Mary as, “A champion of public education.” Kyra also said that Mary is known for her support and thoughtful consideration of students whose families are deployed in the military.

    Mary has been with the district for 24 years at several schools and served previously as FEA president for 2 years.

    The awards ceremony was bittersweet for many of Mary’s colleagues in attendance at the school board meeting; Mary retires from the district at the end of the school year.

    “I am honored to have been chosen as the Fairbanks Elementary Principal of the Year and I would like to thank my colleagues and the Arctic Light staff for their support and encouragement,” said Mary. “Thank you for giving me opportunities to learn and grow as a professional in this community. Your faith and trust in me is greatly appreciated – working here has been a rewarding experience and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

    Congratulations on your accomplishment, Mary and thank you for your tremendous service.


    Lindy Kinn Receives Tech Support of the Year Award

    Lindy Kinn On February 28, at the 2012 Alaska Society for Technology (ASTE) Conference, Instructional Technology Teacher Lindy Kinn received the Tech Support of the Year Award.

    Kinn began her career with the school district in 1983. She is known for providing superior technology support, especially for the district’s numerous SMART Boards (interactive classroom whiteboards) and mobile devices.

    Not only does Kinn make certain that SMART Boards operate properly but she also ensures that users are well trained. Over the last year, Kinn taught four SMART Board classes and offered training to over 75 teachers as well as various workshops on in-service days. She also played a key role in the development of the district’s mobile device manual and accompanying professional development for staff.

    Throughout the district, Kinn is regarded as a consummate professional. “She has an outstanding grasp of curricular goals, and effectively models the use of technology integration strategies into curriculum and instructional practices across content areas,” said Technology Coordinator, Kathy Port.

    Kinn keeps the district connected. Thanks to her dedication to technology, teachers and students have access to innovative classroom resources – and the tools they need to succeed.


    Barbara Nore Named Alaska Music Educator of the Year

    Barbara Nore On November 19, the Alaska Music Educators Association (AMEA) named Barbara Nore of North Pole Middle School, Alaska Music Educator of the Year. The AMEA is a local affiliate of the National Association of Music Education.

    Nore began her career with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District in 1984 and joined North Pole Middle in 1992.

    Throughout her tenure at North Pole Middle, Nore has taught a wide scope of classes including orchestra, band, French, technology and math. Additionally, Nore leads an after school hand bell choir and Close-Up, a program that exposes students to government. Each year Nore leads students to Juneau, Alaska and Washington D.C. to experience government close up and as Nore says, “learn what it means to become effective citizens.”

    Nore has consistently broadened her students’ education by leading trips. In 2006, she led a group to New York City, NY where they joined the National Anthem Project, visited famous landmarks and sang with hundreds of other young performers at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. The National Anthem Project was a unique and memorable venture that celebrated music education through community anthem sings and special events at road shows throughout the United States.

    In addition to her passion for teaching, Nore has also shown tremendous dedication to her colleagues and the community. She has served as the District music coordinator, a Girl Scout leader, AMEA state president, Alaska Orff-Schulwerk Chapter president and performs weekly in the Northern Lights Orchestra.
    Nore is a creative and innovative educator who is committed to providing the best education possible. She expects great work from her students every day – and their educational experience is richer as a result.


    Physical Education Teachers Honored with Teacher of the Year Awards

    Teresa Ponder Cheryl Severns On October 15, 2011, Teresa Ponder of Nordale Elementary and Cheryl Severns of Two Rivers K-8 School received Physical Education Teacher of the Year (TOY) awards from the Alaska Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AHPERD).

    The AHPERD TOY awards are state level honors that are presented annually at the elementary, middle, and high school levels for physical education, health, dance, and adapted physical education. Ponder is the Elementary TOY and Cheryl Severns is the Middle School TOY. Ponder and Severns were selected out of 13 nominees from throughout the state. This distinguished award is bestowed upon physical education teachers who have at least five years of teaching experience, have shown significant achievements in the field of physical education and have demonstrated innovative teaching plans that create effective learning experiences for the needs of all of their students.

    The mission of AKAHPERD is to promote and support creative and healthy lifestyles through high quality programs in health, physical education, recreation, dance, and sport, and to provide members with professional development opportunities that increase knowledge, improve skills, and encourage sound professional practices.

    The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District congratulates Ponder and Severns for their tremendous service to students and dedication to their profession. Thanks to their efforts, district students are more fit, healthy and well.


    Tim Doran named National Distinguished Principal

    Tim Doran, principal of Denali Elementary, was named the National Distinguished Principal for 2011 by the Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals.

    Doran has served as principal at Denali Elementary for 19 years. He previously was principal in Unalakleet and Teller. He was a teacher at Anthony Andrews School in St. Michaels, Alaska, and superintendent at St. Mary’s Catholic School in St. Mary’s, Alaska.

    This statewide award is given each year to an elementary school principal who is enthusiastic and dedicated to young learners. Doran, who was nominated for the award by his fellow principals, was recognized for the high expectations he sets for his students and staff.

    Doran will travel to Washington, D.C., later this year to be recognized with the honorees from the other states.