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ASD to Honor Denali Award Recipients for Spring 2017

Award is highest District honor given to employees


One ASD employee and two teams of colleagues are recipients of the Denali Award, a biannual recognition program which honors employees who have shown outstanding achievement, service, and dedication in ensuring every student has the opportunity to achieve his or her potential. The Anchorage School Board will recognize the winners at its meeting tonight.

The spring 2017 winners are:

Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy, a solutions architect with the Information Technology Department, is an innovative thinker whose creative “solutions” have led to process improvements that benefit employees districtwide.

One of his biggest projects was the districtwide staff device refresh. An enormous undertaking, this project entailed nearly 4,000 new computers distributed to schools across ASD.

In the past, new computers were setup by IT staff and then delivered to schools for distribution. Given the size of this project, it would’ve taken more than a year to complete. McCarthy built the framework and developed procedures to enable staff to be a part of the setup process which effectively shortened the distribution time to less than three months. The work he put into this project has enabled IT to streamline its services and meet ASD’s goal of improved efficiency.

His supervisor describes his superb ability to take an existing task, analyze it, and then streamline it for improved efficiency. “Making strides to continuously improve and streamline processes is something Mike has dedicated himself to. His efforts are truly beneficial to the entire District,” said his supervisor.

Hanshew Teaching Duo

Individually they are great teachers, but together they are like lightning in a bottle. That’s how the Hanshew Middle School principal describes teachers Katie Weidemaier and Leah Dubber.

Weidemaier and Dubber took the initiative to start two new eighth-grade pre-AP courses at Hanshew. Working together, they wrote a course curriculum infusing AP strategies into eighth-grade language arts and social studies. The content focuses on high-level reading, writing, research, and text analysis.

Weidemaier is described as a visionary language arts teacher who continually seeks new ways to engage her students and expand their learning. She works closely with multiple state and community organizations to further educational opportunities at her school. She has been instrumental in developing the middle school debate program at Hanshew and across the District.

Dubber continually takes advantage of learning opportunities to engage and challenge her students. Each year, her students compete in the “We the People” Middle School Invitational. This program provides an avenue for students to learn the historical and philosophical foundations of our country’s ideas about the creation of the Constitution.

A parent said, “At a time when schools are being asked to do more with less, these two astonishing teachers engage, inspire, and stir passion for knowledge.”

“Leah and Katie are two of the most creative, hardworking, student-centered teachers I have ever had the pleasure of working with,” said their principal.

Ravenwood Front Office Team

Debbie Weiss and Beth Kutyba are the smiling faces and friendly voices of Ravenwood Elementary School. They are described by their colleagues as efficient, organized, caring, dedicated, proactive, and the epitome of professionalism. A Ravenwood teacher said they accomplish more in one day than a dozen of Santa’s elves.

They have the ability to console a concerned parent, ease a distraught child, and answer a teacher’s questions without skipping a beat. As they interact with adults and students throughout the day, they do so with attitudes of care and professionalism. Together, they help each person they interact with feel special and well taken care of no matter the issue or concern.

A Ravenwood student wrote, “When I first came to this school, I didn’t know anyone. My parents walked me in and we went to the office to see where my classroom was. When I went into the office, Ms. Weiss helped me out and ever since then, I can always count on her no matter what my situation is.”

Another student said, “Ms. Kutyba is very loyal to me and treats me with respect. I have only known her for two years but she is among my top trusted adults.”

A colleague said they set a beautiful tone for their school and their labors of love help make Ravenwood the success that it is.

Supervisors have the opportunity to nominate employees each fall and spring. Nominations often include letters of support from co-workers, members of the community and students detailing why the employees are considered outstanding in their field of work. The awards are judged by a group of their peers.

ASD applauds these employees, and all nominees, for their amazing service to our students and this community.


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