Teresa Varnell

My Haida name is Dl’a Gwa T’awaa. My English name is Teresa Varnell. I am the Cultural Coordinator for KGBSD. I have worked with KGBSD for about eight years in various capacities. Most recently, I taught first grade at Fawn Mountain Elementary School for five years. This is the first year that KGBSD has had a Cultural Coordinator position. The position was created in partnership with The Ketchikan Native Education Parent Committee Title VI and in consultation with both Saxman and KIC tribes.

Some of the goals outlined for this position are to:

-Provide learning opportunities for teachers, administrators, and students about the customs, traditions, history, and/or value systems of the First Peoples of the Ketchikan area.

-Provide resources for teachers that are easy to access and utilize including State Cultural Standards, the Guide to Implementing Alaska Cultural Standards for Educators, and explicit ways to identify Standards, Indicators and Evidences for Evaluating Culturally Responsive Teaching.

-Provide support to educators on developing yearly goals specific to creating a more culturally responsive learning experience for all students.

-Provide Cultural Enrichment opportunities (cedar weaving, drum making, Northwest Coast design, storytelling, carving, drumming, song, dance, history) for teachers and students.

-Provide exposure to the three indigenous languages of the Ketchikan area.

Providing Native language exposure and cultural enrichment opportunities are valuable and necessary experiences for the students and educators in our school district. However, there is a larger vision for KGBSD.

One of our goals this school year is to research other school districts that have shown high levels of success through developing/adopting and implementing Culturally Responsive Curriculum.

The hope is that the research will provide a path in which KGBSD will be able to begin exploring and developing/adopting a Culturally Responsive Curriculum specific to our unique community make-up.

Email: teresa.varnell@k21schools.org