Principal Thad Keener and his Arctic Light Elementary team won the marshmallow challenge, showing collaboration and teamwork under pressure.

The week of March 27 saw the second training rollout of personalized learning to district and elementary leadership groups. The personalized learning council, which includes teachers, principals, support staff, and union representatives, met to discuss aligning curriculum, supporting teachers, and finalizing the official “why” statement that will help guide decision-making.

Elementary school teams met for a daylong training, exploring classroom structure and design options available to teachers. The teams will then go back to their schools and help guide the training and decision-making process with the rest of their school educators.

“One thing I’m excited for is the flex model,” Arctic Light Elementary teacher Marcy McCall said about a strategy for organizing student learning time. “Not only is it going to provide my students with more choices, it will allow for more one-on-one instruction.”

Members of the district leadership team and Education Elements, the district’s partner in the shift to district-wide personalized learning, also held a public event for parents on March 29. Parents listened to a presentation from Superintendent Karen Gaborik and Scott Johns, Education Elements design team lead, and had a chance to ask questions.

“One thing I’m passionate about is that every single student be a successful learner,” Superintendent Gaborik said during her presentation. “I think that’s a goal we should never let go of and that we need to accomplish.”

A few early adopter teachers have already begun more comprehensively shifting their teaching model to personalized learning. Mr. Rush at Ticasuk Brown Elementary is one teacher who has changed things up this year. Parent Jason Griswold has a son in Mr. Rush’s class.

“At first I was skeptical of personalized learning because I do not like change,” said Griswold. “But personalized learning seems to work better for my son and now he is actually motivated to learn. He thinks learning is fun, loves school, and his grades have improved significantly. My son has taken ownership of his learning.”

Video of the presentations, handouts from the meeting, and responses to frequently asked questions can be found at

Rebecca Hurbi is communications coordinator Fairbanks North Star Borough School District