Principal’s Corner

Welcome to the New School Year 2019-2020!

Students and Parents,

On behalf of our staff and the Academic Policy Committee, I would like to welcome you to Fireweed Academy.  Over the years, our school has taken pride in providing a unique educational program that makes our school special.  We strive to provide a learning environment that develops a community of learners through our focus on the school’s Mission, Vision, and Core Values:

  • Constructivism: learning that is constructed through experience and experimentation, rather than just acquiring it through lecture and rote memorization.
  • Project Based Learning
  • Theme Immersion: providing an in-depth study of questions and subjects.
  • Multi-level groups: including age groups, to best provide for the needs of each individual student.

As we begin a new school year, we will be welcoming new staff and reconnecting with our returning staff!

This year, we welcome two new classroom teachers to our school.  At Little Fireweed, Samantha Kirby will be our first grade teacher.  Raised in Valdez, Samantha is moving back to Alaska after having spent some time in New York state and teaching for the past three years in Florida.  Additionally, she has taught martial arts to youth of all ages.  Samantha will be working side by side with Kim Fine, Mo Wilkinson, and Kara Bakken-Clemens.  At Big Fireweed Diane Ditton is joining the team, as our new classroom teacher.  Some of you are already familiar with Diane, who has taught at the Rural Cap Head Start for the past eight years.  She also is an accomplished dancer and brings a passion for movement and music to her teaching.  Diane will be working alongside Katherine Gustafson, Jon Kulhanek, Stephanie Zuniga, and Carolyn Norton.  Christine Faber is back to support our students’ academic and social needs at both campuses. Last, but not least, Janet returns as our marvelous secretary to help support students, parents, and staff alike.

As with any successful school, we continually seek to improve our academic program, as

well as the school’s cultural environment.  This year, we will be introducing Restorative Practices to our school.  Teachers will participate in a Restorative Practices workshop at our August in-service, with follow up workshops scheduled later in the year.  In addition to this new initiative, we will continue to support our use of cooperative learning, in which students work with one another to develop their academic and social skills through Kagan Structures.  The use of Kagan Structures require students to be actively engaged in lessons and promote respectful and responsible behaviors that support a safe and positive classroom environment, as they work with partners and teams.

Experience has taught me that having a strong relationship and partnership with parents and students is vital to the success of a school.  In an effort to bolster our parent volunteer efforts we will be asking parents to identify ways they will be able to support the school, at school, on field trips, or even in the comfort of your own home.  I am looking forward to meeting and working with you, so that we can build upon the success that Fireweed Academy has enjoyed.    Together, we will continue to offer a unique academic experience for our students, while providing parents with a great choice for their child’s education.

Todd Hindman    Principal, Fireweed Academy


My Background in Education

I would like to provide you with my background in education.  Since the beginning of my career, I have worked in small schools that serve as an alternative to traditional schools.  My career began at TA Edison Environmental Science Academy in Dallas, Texas.  TA Edison was a magnet school for 7th and 8th grade students which provided students with the opportunity to take an extra science class, that was completely based on hands-on laboratory investigations and project work.  From there, I spent two years in Sand Point, Alaska before making my way to Nome, my home for 17 years.  While in Nome, I worked at Anvil City Science Academy, a charter school that is similar to Fireweed Academy, in its philosophy.  With the help of dedicated staff members, supportive parents, and a lot of hard work, we were able to expand the program over time, not only in terms of the number of students/families served but also in the rich and varied curriculum we provided.  I am extremely proud of my work there and I am eager to bring my experience and enthusiasm to Fireweed Academy.


Parents and guardians,

School safety is a top priority in the KPBSD. It’s important for you to know what to do before, during, and after a school emergency, weather related delay start, or school closure. Please visit this webpage to familiarize yourself with A.L.I.C.E., KPBSD emergency terms and actions, and how to learn if there will be a two-hour delay start or school closure. Click here for more info:


► If school remains open due to adverse weather, and you as a parent or guardian assess the conditions in your local area and decide to keep children home, please call the school to let the office know. An absence due to road and weather conditions will be excused.



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