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  • Better late than never I hope...My name is Lori Browning and I am finally getting online to post after preparing for, and having, parent/teacher conferences last week.  I entered teaching later in life, after traveling and living around the world with my family and husband, who retired from the Army after 24 years.  I have four children: the oldest is 22 and will graduate from the University of Alaska Anchorage this spring with a Bachelor of Art Degree in History (my husband is also a history major).  He is the Army ROTC program, and will head off to Ft. Lee, VA to become a 2nd  Lt. in September.  My daughter is 19 and is a sophomore at UAA.  She is majoring in psychology and plans on getting her masters degree after graduating (somewhere warm).  My next child is 17 and will graduate from South Anchorage High School in May.  He will be attending college out of state and is narrowing down his choices.  He is planning to major in chemical engineering.  My fourth child is six and is in 1st grade at the same school where I teach.  I decided to become a teacher because my children were getting older....but life sometimes has other plans for us.

    I teach a 5th/6th combo class at Mt. Spurr Elementary, which is on Elmendorf AFB.  I chose to work with the military students, and my three older children attended this school years ago when we lived on base.  This is my 4th year teaching, and I have taught a 3/4 combo, a 4/5 combo, a 5/6 combo, and a 5th grade class.  We have lived in Alaska for 12 years now, but grew up in Oregon.  Both my husband and I attended the University of Oregon and are huge Duck fans.  Our extended family still lives back in the Eugene, OR area.

  • Hello All—

    After a couple of frustrating weeks, I think I’m up to speed with how to log on and post my responses to this group.


    I came to Alaska in 1978 “seeking  my fortune.”  I worked a number of jobs including working on oil exploration ships, expediting and playing music.  While living in Anchorage at a time when the night scene was quite lively I was able to work steadily as a solo musician playing a rather eclectic variety of music:  everything from Cole Porter to Pink Floyd.  Thus supporting myself I attended UAA and earned a BA in history and a Bed in Secondary Education.  I taught for 2 ½ years in the Lower Yukon School District and moved to Fairbanks after meeting and marrying the light of my life, the Lovely Jill. 

    After a few years of subbing I was eventually hired by the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and have since then taught middle school U.S. History.

    During my career I have  been lucky to attend the Kennedy School of Education’s Summer Institute on the Media and American Democracy, StreetLaw’s Summer Institute on the Supreme Court, the Stratford Hall-Monticello Summer Institute on Colonial Leadership as well as a host of other great learning opportunities.

    This present course seems to be a great opportunity to learn more about primary sources and I look forward to being a part of it.  Let the games begin!

  • Hello, I'm Sarah Jansen and I teach at Romig Middle School in Anchorage.  Although I am originally from Fairbanks, I have also lived in Argentina and Chile.  I currently teach in the Spanish Immersion program which means that I teach my seventh grade geography course in both Spanish and English.  I love working with the diverse population at Romig and sharing my passion for history in two languages.  

    I began my career teaching at Chugiak High School ten years ago as the Spanish Immersion teacher and then I took a break to pursue graduate work at the University of Wisconsin.  Go Badgers!  After I finished I taught for four years in Chicago primarily as a Spanish teacher.  I am very happy to be back in Alaska and back teaching Spanish and Social Studies.  I am excited to learn more about how the National Archives can add to my classes.  

  • Greetings!


    My name is Anna Marie Swoffer. I am a high school History & Literature teacher (circa 1989). I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan (16 mile), moved to California to attend school (because I didn’t like the cold) at the University of California-Santa Barbara, where I received my bachelor’s degree in History, and then received a grant from my school district (where I was a T.A.) to California State-Northridge to complete my teaching Credentials.

    At this point in my education endeavors, I looked around and said, “Why would anybody leave?” I stayed in Ventura, California, for twenty-three blissful years---until I met my husband. Love is blind. And it knows nothing of climate, either.

    I have been visiting Fairbanks now for 12 years. I get out often as possible (it’s in my fictitious prenuptials).  Living here has perks (most of them come in the summer). For example, it is pleasant to not wait 20 minutes to make a left-hand turn; we have a freezer full of salmon and halibut all year, and I don’t put many miles on my car. I do, however, use miles to get airfare anyway I can. I have a wonderful husband, four beautiful children, a golden retriever, and as of late---CABIN FEVER! It is finally warming up here (15 above---get the suntan oil). My dog needs me to run him! Chasing him around the dining room table for exercise has been very embarrassing for both of us…

    I have been to the archive website at the start of this school year. Amazing. My interests are varied, but I have particular interest in WWII and the Holocaust. After attending the Belfer Conference at the USHMM (2004), and taking every class Dr. Michael Schuldiner taught at UAF (a renowned Holocaust scholar), I wrote the adopted curriculum for a Holocaust Studies class in our school district. In 2009, I completed my Master’s in Education with emphasis in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. History and literature go hand-in-hand. I know this class will enhance my ability to help my students tap into hidden treasures that will prepare them for whatever comes next in their lives (and mine!).

  • Hello Everyone, 

    I’m Renee Helie, this is the first year I am out of the classroom.  I am presently in Training and Professional Development in the Anchorage School District (ASD) in Anchorage, Alaska.  Until this year, I have been a classroom teacher in 5 and 6th grades predominantly.  My passion has always been writing and history.  I am hoping in my new position to increase student achievement by collecting best practices and materials in teaching all content areas.

    My background is very diverse.  As an elementary educator, I have concentrated on increasing my content knowledge and innovative teaching practices.  Some examples of this exploration are being a member of the Technology Teacher Leaders Team (TTL7) in ASD; a member of the ASD Elementary Social Studies Curriculum Camp to coordinate and rollout a new 6th grade social studies curriculum; this last summer attending the Michelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy in New Jersey.


    I grew up in Anchorage and have raised 3 boys here, my youngest in now in middle school.  I have 2 dogs an elderly whippet mix and a French bulldog who’s deaf.  I enjoy cross-country skiing and am presently training with my husband for the Tour of Anchorage 25 km ski race.   My summers are filled with biking the wonderful trails in and outside of Anchorage.  My remaining summer hours are spent in my gardens, which thrive in the midnight sun. 


    One of my favorite Skiing and Biking Areas in Anchorage


  • Hello,

    My name is Scott Davenport. This is my first year in Alaska. I'm teaching junior high in Tununak. It is a Yu'pik village of 300 people. One great thing is all of students LOVE basketball. I enjoy it, these kids are beyond rabid. Every thing I can relate to Miami Heat will stick their heads forever. 

    I'm excited to learn about the NARA site. I've never used it and am looking forward to utilizing the resource. 

  • Hi all!  I am Lisa Healow and I am a teacher at South Anchorage High School.  I am in my third year of teaching and I teach World History, U.S. History and Alaska Studies.  I am a born and raised Alaskan, and graduated from UAA with a Bachelors in History and a Masters in Teaching.  I am excited to become more familiar with the National Archives and hope to get a lot out of this class that I can pass on to my students!  I currently use the NARA website pretty regularly for lesson ideas and access to primary sources for my U.S. History class and look forward to getting more ideas for teaching!

  • Hi everyone, 

    I'm Myla Liljemark and I teach Ancient World History/Geography and Early American US History (up to 1860) at Seward Middle School.  Seward has been my home since 2005 when I moved here with my husband.  I grew up in Ansbach, Germany (in the state of Bavaria) as a "teacher's kid" to Department of Defense teachers.  I lived in Bavaria for a total of 10 years, meeting my future husband there while working at a ski lodge in the Alps in.  I received my undergrad in History from Humboldt State University in the Redwoods of Northern California in 2000, and my M.A.T. from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN in 2005.  

    I love living in Alaska and enjoy exploring the hiking trails and the beaches with my two kids (ages 2 and 4) and husband.   When I'm not doing that, you may find me training for a race (I'm hoping to get into the Mt. Marathon race this summer), playing guitar and singing with my kids, or sitting around a camp fire. 

    My husband and I love to travel and I hope to spend some time overseas again teaching in an international school.  I would like my kids to experience living in foreign cultures and to develop skills that international experiences provide.  

    Seward is a nice quiet place to live.  In the winter, our population is about 2500 people, and it doubles in the summer.  We are on the road system, and only about 2 hours from Anchorage.  Right now we have more snow than I even want to think about - about 6 ft in our backyard.  Add windy conditions, and now rain - boy, it's pleasant.  In the summer, though we have great hiking trails, glacier viewing, and salmon and halibut fishing.  My husband and I have yet to shoot a black bear, but we take the kids out hunting and have a blast anyway.  

    I'm looking forward to this class and to meeting new social studies teachers around Alaska!

  • Hello! I am Alex Lewis, and I live in Fairbanks, AK. I am originally from upstate NY, but moved to Alaska in 2008 for my husband's job. I am currently teaching 11th grade US history and 9th grade AK studies at a local high school. I spend a lot of time working on building my knowledge about Alaska, due to the course I teach, and not being from the state. Alaska, is unique in a sense that we have to cope with unbearable cold, while still carrying on with daily life. I was trained in education in NY, but I have found that students are students no matter where you go! They want to learn and they need me to help them. My main goal for taking this course, is to gain more knowledge and fun ways to use primary sources in my classroom. I love taking the written word or art from the past and using it to bring history to life  for my kids. I'm looking forward to learning some new things along this journey. 

    Outside of Education and work, I love spending time with my husband and my 1 year old son, Levi. I'm looking forward to warmer weather though, so we can go outside to play. This cold weather has been around for far too long in my opinion! 


  • Hi everyone.  A bit about me...

    I was born in North Carolina and moved to Indiana after graduating high school in 1995. After living, working, and learning in Indianapolis and Bloomington I received my B.A. degree in Early Childhood Education (pre-K-3) from Indiana University in 2003.


    I student taught pre-school in Bloomington, primarily for university professors’ children. I also chose the optional route of student teaching through the fantastic Cultural Immersion program at IU. After a year of preparatory work I did my student teaching and additional fieldwork in Kayenta, AZ on the Navajo Reservation. Besides student teaching, my entire teaching experience has been with LKSD.


    In 2003, my teaching career began in Quinhagak, AK in a kindergarten through third grade classroom with 19 students ages 5-12. I transferred to Nunapitchuk in 2005 and remained there until 2010, teaching primarily first and second grade. In Nunapitchuk, I also dabbled with upper elementary and junior high tutoring. 


    Beginning in 2010, I work in the Department of Academic Programs and Support (DAPS), at the district office in Bethel, as the K-6 Elementary Language Arts Specialist.  Being a member of the DAPS team includes reading and writing curriculum review, mapping curricula, coaching new teachers at two sites (Quinhagak and Goodnews Bay), and providing in-services: district wide as well as with second year teachers.  

    Something unique about where I live?  We have had temperatures from -20 to -63 for over a month now.  Bbrrr!  There are no roads that connect town to town from here to Anchorage (~500 miles away).  We have lakes and rivers and sloughs all over the place.  The Kuskokwim river is a thoroughfare in the summer by boat and in the winter by snow-go or vehicle (or dog mushing if you follow the dogsled races).  Many of our in-services and regular ed. high school courses are taught via Video Teleconference. 

    Selfishly I wanted to take this course to learn more about primary sources myself.  I am not very good at research and want to be better.  Certainly, knowing more will help me in giving references to other teachers too. 

    I've attached a photo of my dog (the little one) & my roommate's.   It looks like we have trees, but those are bushes & rare unless you're traveling upriver.  It's very flat tundra here.


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