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Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals

AAESP serves elementary, middle school, and K-12 administrators as well as curriculum directors, university professors, and a variety of other educational leaders around the State of Alaska.


What does AAESP do?

AAESP is a professional association that represents principals at the federal, state and local level to encourage legislation and regulations which strengthen American education.

AAESP provides the opportunity for principals to attend the Alaskan Fall Principals' Conference where nationally recognized speakers are keynoting and provides the opportunity to brainstorm with other principals from around the state to help determine policy, goals, and educational priorities for the year.

AAESP encourages participation in the National Leaders Conference, Alaska Legislative Fly-in, attendance at other in-services and the NAESP National Convention & Exposition.



        Membership​ & Contact Information

                       Email or call Executive Director, Jennifer Schmitz @

            or (907) 223-1742

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CONGRATULATIONS to Alaska's 2022 National Distinguished Principal,

Denise Kelly!

Denise is the proud principal at Sterling Elementary in Sterling, Alaska.

Denise Kelly was nominated and selected by her fellow principals through a statewide search process conducted by the Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals.

Kelly graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1998, she then added a Master’s Degree in Education Administration and Supervision from the University of Phoenix and later also received a Graduate Certificate in Restorative Practices from the International Institute of Restorative Practices in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Denise began her administrative career as an interim principal at Kilohana Elementary School in Kaunakakai, Hawaii in 2009 and after moving to Alaska in 2014 started her career in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District at Sterling Elementary. She is currently in her eighth year as the principal at Sterling Elementary. Denise will be honored at an event in Washington DC this fall.


If you would like to nominate an outstanding Alaskan administrator for this award, please email us at the link below!


COVID Related Support

Working Together for Alaska's Students

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Echo School Health Series

There are weekly sessions offered through DEED that  held to address real issues happening in our schools and how to respond. There is more information about these sessions in the attached ECHO. School Health ECHO Series:

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DEED Covid Help Desk

You can email DEED at any time with Covid related questions at

Client 1

Member Meetings for Alaska's K-12 Principals

ACSA (also a part of your membership) is hosting monthly meetings for principals with Commissioner Johnson and other special guests. These have been valuable sessions. Current members should be receiving invitations to these sessions.

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Current REL Supports

In response to COVID-19, the 10 Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) have collaborated to produce a series of evidence-based resources and information about teaching and learning in a remote environment, as well as other considerations brought by the pandemic. See below for a roundup of featured resources on this topic. A full list of resources is available on the REL COVID-19 webpage

Best Practices for Creating Take-Home Packets to Support Distance Learning
Infographic | REL Pacific
Audience: teachers, school leaders, district leaders

Going the Distance: Online Strategies for Helping Students with Disabilities
Blog | REL Mid-Atlantic
Audience: teachers, school leaders, district leaders

Meaningful Online Education for Our Youngest Learners: Tips to Reconcile the Need for E-Learning with How Young Children Learn Best
Blog | REL Midwest
Audience: teachers

Supporting Children’s Reading at Home: Family Resources for Kindergarten through 3rd Grade
Webinar recording | REL Southeast
Audience: families, caregivers

Three Steps for Using Culturally Responsive Practices to Support Equity During Remote Learning
Blog | REL Mid-Atlantic
Audience: teachers, school leaders, district leaders


Who is AAESP?

YOU ARE!  Those dedicated individuals working and supporting education in the State of Alaska.

There is an executive board elected to serve AAESP. Each person on the board is here to help support our mission and to support individual leaders around the state.


Jennifer Rinaldi

Willow Elementary

31706 W Parks Hwy

Willow, AK 99688

Phone: 907-495-9330

Past President

Eric Pederson

Paul Banks Elementary

1340 East Road

Homer, AK 99603

Phone: (907) 226-1801

Fax: (907) 235-8163


Joanna Hinderberger

Mendenhall River Community School

10014 Crazy Horse Drive

Juneau, AK 99801

Phone: (907) 796-5600


Aimee Kahler 

Lake Hood Elementary

3601 W 40th Ave

Anchorage, AK 99517

Phone (907) 245-5521


Heather Jones

Trailside Elementary

5151 Abbott Rd

Anchorage, Alaska 99515

Phone: (907) 742-5500

Fax (907) 742-5511


Doug Gray

Paideia Cooperative School

1405 E Street

Anchorage, AK 99501

Phone: (907) 742-4267

Fax: (907) 742-4165


Shawna Henderson

Pearl Creek Elementary

700 Auburn Drive
Fairbanks, AK 99709

Phone (907) 479-4234 x41510
Fax (907) 479-4025


Joshua Gill

Gladys Jung Elementary

PO Box 2186

Bethel, Alaska 99559

Phone: (907) 543-4400


NAESP Summer Conference-2022

July 15-17, 2022 in Louisville, Kentucky

We hope that you will plan to join principals from around the country in Louisville in July 2022. 

The NAESP Conference is always full of quality professional development and time for collaboration. 

Stay tuned to AAESP emails to hear about the chance to win a free registration!





The Alaska State Principals Conference will be BACK IN PERSON this year. We have a great line up of speakers and activities and hope you will join us!

Registration information will be out soon!

October 14-16, 2022
Hilton Hotel
Anchorage, Alaska



Working in partnership to provide the best possible support to education administrators in Alaska.

Being a member of AAESP also means you are a member of these two great organizations. This gives us a stronger and more unified voice at both the state and local levels.


Alaska Council of School Administrators

As a non-profit, tax exempt corporation established in 1973, the Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) was created to serve as an umbrella for four of Alaska’s premier educational leadership organizations.
ACSA’s unifying purpose is to support educational leaders through professional forums, provide a voice that champions possibilities for all students and purposeful advocacy for public education. ACSA comprises professional educational leaders of Alaska’s schools and school systems.

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National Association of Elementary School Prinicpals

The mission of NAESP Is to lead in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle level principals and other education leaders in their commitment for all children. NAESP advocates for the support principals need to be successful 21st century leaders—to achieve the highest results for children, families, and communities. And, we support the continual development of our members—principals in many different stages of their careers—through benefits, and awards.

All of our activities are designed to help principals and learning communities achieve desired results for every child.


It is time to start thinking about nominations for the 2023 Alaska National Distinguished Principal!!


National Distinguished
Principal Information

Eligibility for nominees:
• is a member of NAESP prior to submitting their application in May;
• is an active principal of a school in which a commitment to excellence is clearly evident;
• has been an active principal for at least five years;
• will remain in active service in a position of school leadership during the school year in which he/she will serve as NDP;
• shows a strong commitment to the principalship through active membership in professional associations;
• is respected by students, colleagues, parents, and the community at large;
• assumes an active role in his/her community, distinguishing himself/herself as a leader in civic, religious, or humanitarian activities;
• shows strong educational leadership by setting high expectations for school staff and students; and
• maintains an orderly, purposeful learning environment.

ALL completed applications are due in FEBRUARY each year to the Vice-President of AAESP.


Alaska's National Distinguished Principals



Heather Jones

2021- Anchorage

Eric Pederson

2020- Kenai

Douglas Gray

2019- Anchorage

Michael Angaiak

2018- Fairbanks

Lisa Vrvilo

2017- Matsu

Kate LaPlaunt

2016- Fairbanks

Anita Stevens

2015- Anchorage

David Kingsland

2014- KPBSD

Cheryl Stickler

2013- Haines

Barbara Nagengast

2012- Anchorage

Tim Doran

2011- Fairbanks

Richard Toymil

2010- Anchorage

Leslie Campbell

2009- Fairbanks

Barbara Pile

2008- Fairbanks

Ron Fried

2007- Kodiak

Pete Swanson

2006- Kenai

Ed Scherer

2005- Anchorage

Mary Johnstone

2004- Anchorage

John Kito

2003- Anchorage

Kathie Cook

2002- Fairbanks

Dan Blanton

2001- Talkeetna

Karl Schleich

2000- Matsu

Davis Nufer

1999- Palmer

Rick Ladd

1998- Kenai

Sharon Meacham

1997- Anchorage

Kathy Benson

1996- Fairbanks

Arge Jeffery

1995- Anchorage

Linda Black

1994- Anchorage

Dave Dirkson

1993- Wrangell

Bill Breeden

1992- Anchorage

Diane Borgman

1991- Kenai

Jim Starry

1990- Anchorage

Lewis McLinn

1989- Kenai

Bett Fami

1988- Fairbanks

Jerry Schoenberger

1987- Yakatat

Darleen Trent

1986- Anchorage

Virginia Maesner

1985- Kenai

Robert Schell

1984- Sitka


Here are some links to connect and support you as a member of AAESP.

National Association of Elementary School Principals

Alaska Council of School Administrators

Alaska Staff Development Network

AAESP Facebook Page

Alaska Principals' Conference Facebook Page

National Distinguished Principal Info



We LOVE to hear from our members!  You can contact any one of us on the board. If you have membership questions, are looking to get more involved, or are just looking for a point of contact, you can send us an email and we will get back to you as soon as we can. 

7259 Tyre Drive Anchorage, Alaska 99502

(907) 223-1742

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