Taking Teachers to the Next Level

LKSD's Career Ladder Program
Posted on 05/05/2022
Alice Nunurta Fitka


Nearly 60 people are currently working their way through the Lower Kuskokwim School District’s career ladder program — an opportunity that developed as a need to fill school staffing but also as a desire to support local community members.

Elsie Pangall' Snyder and Alice Nunurta Fitka Elsie Pangall' Snyder and Alice Nunurta Fitka working with students. Both teachers are part of the career ladder program.

Longtime LKSD educator Carlton Kuhns was part of the original committee in 1984 that founded the career ladder program, led by superintendent of the time, Sue Hare.

“It was focused specifically on creating a path for people from the region to become certified teachers — and the outcome being to increase the number of Native and Yup’ik-speaking teachers in LKSD,” Kuhns said.

“It's broadened out to cast a wider net to reach people that would be interested in teaching,” Kuhns continued. “So there have been adjustments along the way, and it still is just such a viable, great program to make sure that our students have Native teachers as part of their teaching core.”

Unemployment has always been a factor in the region, Kuhns said, and the career ladder program has offered people a career path that is always available. Plus, the gig is seasonal and aligns with subsistence activities.

Eighteen of the district’s K-12 schools are dual language schools, meaning the students learn both in Yugtun and English — said Director of Human Resources for LKSD Andrea Engbretsen. Additionally, LKSD operates Ayaprun Elitnaurvik, a K-8 Yup’ik immersion charter school.

The LKSD’s Career Ladder program has targeted areas for growth — specifically for people looking to become certified teachers, principals, or counselors, Engbretsen said. LKSD will pay for folks in the region to go back to school and complete their degree.

“[To be eligible for the program,] they can be community members, LKSD graduates or people currently teaching as an associate teacher,” Engbretsen said.

For more information on LKSD's career ladder program and to find out how to sign up, email [email protected].

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