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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


         If you would like to join AAESP for this school year, you can do so at the                                         following link:    AAESP MEMBERSHIP FORM

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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!

AAESP Directors

We are here to represent and serve you! Please reach out anytime.

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Jennifer Schmitz

Executive Director


Jen Rinaldi

Deputy Director

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.


Josh Gill

Ayaprun Elitnaurvik 

PO Box 1468

Bethel, AK 99559

Phone: 907-545-0169


Lori Ruckdashel

Chinook Elementary School

3131 W 88th Ave. 

Anchorage, AK 99502

Phone: (907) 301-3413


Jenna Fabian

Nikiski Northstar Elementary

45600 Holt Lamplight Rd.

Nikiski, AK 99635

Phone (907) 776-2600


Linson Thompson

Sand Lake Elementary

7500 Jewel Lake Rd.

Anchorage, AK 99502 

Phone: (907) 632-2161


Heather Jones

Trailside Elementary

5151 Abbott Rd

Anchorage, AK 99507

Phone: (406) 360-0674


Heather Conn

Rae. C. Stedman Elementary

PO Box 289
Petersburg, AK 99833

Phone (907) 305-0540


Tracy Bell

June Nelson Elementary

PO Box 264

Kotzebue, Alaska 99752

Phone: (907) 442-1877

NAESP Summer Conference-2023

July 10-12, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland

We hope that you will plan to join principals from around the country in National Harbor in 2023. 

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

Watch here for registration information!!



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.

AAESP Partners

A special thank you to our sponsors for your support of elementary principals in Alaska!

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AAESP Monthly Newsletters

In case you missed one, here are the links to our monthly newsletters.

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 President -elect of AAESP.

Lori Ruckdaschel

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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