The FUNd Stuff at PNA!

The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.

-John Dewey


Middle school students working on stop motion animation the first week of school.

Dear Friends and Families of PNA,

Welcome back to the FUNd stuff, highlights of the fun, exciting things happening on the PNA campus. For those of you who are new to the PNA community, this is a bi-weekly update.

We are back in full swing with 116 students, there are a lot of new faces and positive energy throughout the building stemming from the fun being had while learning in the classroom.

Over the summer, the building was abuzz every week with our Create Academy summer camps. In its fourth year, we were almost full every week and we had over 600 campers come through the doors.

We have a new soccer field on the playground and also have new raised garden beds as well that were built and donated by the South and East Anchorage Rotary’s. We are planning on expanding the gardens with a beautiful cedar greenhouse that was generously donated by the Inampudi’s, a former PNA family.

Stay tuned for more updates from school and have a great week!


Peter Kling

Director of Development & Enrollment

New and Returning Faces

We are proud to introduce you to our 2019-2020 school year team of teachers. We are confident that both the returning and new faces are talented, dedicated, considerate, and inspirational in their teaching practice, and that the results your kids will see this year will be proof positive.

Anna Ramsey - Early Childhood Program Coordinator

PNA is very proud to welcome Ms. Anna Ramsey to our administration in the preschool division, taking charge of our flourishing program for pre-kindergarten learners. A native of Sweden with over ten years experience in preschool settings in Norway and Sweden, Ms.Ramsey brings a refreshing progressive mindset to our already-fantastic program, and seeks to imbue the whole of PNA with some of that world-famous Scandinavian educational ethos. We are very lucky to have someone of her caliber join our team, and we look forward to the positive changes ahead. Welcome, Anna!


Jessica Graham - Beginners lead teacher

PNA is excited to welcome Jessica Graham to PNA's preschool program. Jessica recently moved to Alaska with her husband and dog Rey. As a graduate of the University of Alabama with a bachelors degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education, she plans on pursuing her masters degree in reading with an emphasis on elementary education in the future. We can't wait to watch her instill her own love of learning in her young students. Welcome, Jessica!

Saania Ali - Early Kindergarten lead teacher

Ms. Ali is a new addition to our preschool team. She brings 4 years of experience in Texas and Beijing, China to PNA and is fluent in three languages. A Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Houston, Ms. Ali wowed last year’s EK class when she guest-taught a lesson showing kids how to create their own butterfly chrysalis - a perfect demonstration of the hands-on, science-focused classroom experience that makes our preschool so special. Be sure to welcome Ms. Ali and her two young children to our supportive school community. Welcome, Saania!

Melissa Smith - Early Kindergarten lead teacher

A longtime teaching veteran with over 25 years of experience teaching preschool and kindergarten students, Ms. Smith brings a wealth of knowledge and drive to set PNA Early Kindergarten students on the path to starting kindergarten ahead of the game. Melissa is a Leadership Award winner and frequent community volunteer with talents in music, literacy, and kindergarten skills. Welcome, Melissa!

Brenna McCormick - Kindergarten

Mrs. McCormick returns for a third year in charge of PNA’s largest-ever cohort of kindergarten students - a full 18! Her decisive classroom management skills, unflappable warmth, and proven results mean that these 18 friends will undoubtedly have an incredible year under her tutelage. A masters-level certified reading expert with recent training in Project Based Learning and hands-on science, Mrs. McCormick is frequently lauded as a miracle worker in kids’ interest and fluency with literacy. So much so that last year’s kindergarten class has been meeting with her weekly over the summer for a “book club.” Welcome back, Mrs. McCormick!

Jelsea Lemanski - 1st Grade Mrs. Lemanski takes the helm in first grade and forms part of a formidable reading team in tandem with Mrs. McCormick. With nearly 10 years experience teaching and tutoring students from preschool - 2nd grade in reading, Mrs. Lemanski is sure to succeed in the crucial 1st grade year of reading instruction, setting kids up for big academic gains across subject areas as they transition from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn. With a degree from Anderson College and experience studying and working in Europe, we are pleased to welcome award-winning teacher Mrs. Lemanski and her two wonderful children who will attend PNA this fall as well. Welcome, Jelsea!

Marcella Hitchcock - 2nd Grade Returning for her 12th year as a teacher at PNA, Mrs. Hitchcock remains one of the most talented and dynamic Project Based Learning teachers in the state, consistently challenging and engaging students in signature learning experiences that inspire creativity and push results across subject areas. Mrs. Hitchcock is a part of the PNA Program Leadership Team and is excited to be back for another phenomenal year. Welcome back, Marcella!

Lindsay Wicker - 3rd Grade Ms. Wicker is a veteran 3rd grade teacher who specializes in reading instruction and inquiry-based instruction. A graduate of Crown College, MN with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Lindsay is also a certified Orton-Gillingham teacher. The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling do not come easily to individuals. For the past five years, Lindsay has taught 3rd grade at The Discovery School, an International Baccalaureate school in Mansfield, OH, and we are excited to welcome her and her fresh energy to PNA. Welcome, Lindsay!

Phillip Redhead - 4th Grade Entering his 3rd year working at PNA, Mr. Redhead has moved up to take the helm in 4th grade, an age group he has years of experience working with, and he is very excited to make the switch. Mr. Redhead, a native of Newcastle in the north of England, is a new father and brings experience and an international perspective to the PNA teaching team. We are very excited to see the results he will get with our rising 4th grade students. Welcome back, Phil!

Martina Henke - Fifth Grade

Now entering her third year teaching full-time at PNA, powerhouse teacher and education guru Martina Henke has made the move down from middle school to 5th grade to act as the chief of the 3rd-4th-5th grades division and bring a renewed energy and dedication to it. A longtime veteran teacher, Mrs. Henke notably taught a 4th/5th combo at Rogers Park Elementary in Anchorage for many years, and brings warmth, expertise, and high expectations to the older half of PNA’s thriving Lower School.

Elizabeth Ferry - Middle School

PNA is thrilled to welcome Elizabeth Ferry to the Middle School team. Elizabeth earned a B.A. in Secondary Education (English) from the University of Maine Farmington. She recently moved from Maine, where she most previously taught English at the High School level. Prior to that, Elizabeth taught for two years in Tanzania with the Peace Corps. In addition to teaching English, Elizabeth has targeted training in classroom management, specifically with Responsive Classroom. She also has collegiate basketball playing and coaching experience and will be leading a basketball after-school enrichment program. Elizabeth is excited to be part of the PNA family. She teaches Middle School social studies, CPM 2 & 3, and 6th grade language arts.

Sarah Mariner - Middle School We are pleased to welcome back veteran PNA teacher Sarah Mariner as the anchor of the Middle School team. Sarah earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Biological Science from Colorado State University and was awarded a teaching certificate through the University of Alaska, Southeast. Her varied background includes two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic and as an environmental education field instructor in Massachusetts, Colorado, and Baja, Mexico. Sarah will teach MS science, CPM 1 (6th grade math) and share language arts duties with Elizabeth.


Molly Liston - Physical Education and Health PNA is proud to welcome back Miss Molly to lead PNA’s physical education and health program. She holds a degree in Physical Education with an emphasis in Adventure Leadership. An avid lover of the outdoors, Molly makes sure that PNA students spend as much time as possible outside. Although she is a new mother, she continues to spend time hiking in the summer and backcountry skiing in the winter. Welcome back Molly!

Wendy Laird - Middle School Spanish A native Spanish speaker, Wendy graduated from Universidad del Valle de Guatemala with a Bachelor's Degree in Second Language Education. She taught English as a second language in Elementary, Middle School and adult education in Guatemala City for 12 years, before moving to Anchorage. She joined the PNA team in 2005 and taught for four years before staying home to raise her children. She returned to PNA last year, and we are very pleased to welcome her back again!

Michele Whaley - Lower School Spanish PNA is delighted to welcome back renowned and award-winning world language teacher Michele Whaley to continue providing exciting and research-proven instruction in Spanish to our younger students. A former Pacific Northwest Teacher of the Year in 2016 and repeat presenter at the national ACTFL teacher’s conference, Sra. Michele is kind of a big deal, and we are lucky to have her! An expert in TPRS and Comprehensible Input teaching strategies, Michele will continue to teach PNA kids Spanish in the most modern and effective ways. Welcome back, Michele!

Pete Johnson - Middle School Art Some of you may know Pete as a classroom teacher, MS math teacher, and technology coordinator, he actually has a true passion for teaching Art. Pete formerly served as an adjunct art instructor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and plans to bring a newfound focus on digital art, graphic design, and art in the technology age to give PNA students a new, modern experience in art class. He earned his B.A. in English with an Art minor and a B.S. in Psychology from Friends University in Wichita, KS and his M.A. in English from Colorado State University. Welcome back, Pete!

Brenda Jaeger - Lower School Art

Mrs. Jaeger has been with PNA since its very first year and is a beloved and talented presence in the faculty. In 1998, she was awarded the quarterly BP Teachers of Excellence Award. She has traveled to Japan three times to study traditional handmade papermaking; to Reggio Emilia, Italy, to observe the renowned pre-primary school system there; and to Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico, to observe traditional clay artists. Born and raised in Alaska, Brenda has enjoyed teaching art since 1974. Prior to coming to PNA, Brenda taught for 22 years through the Artists-in-Education Programs in four states, in communities such as Nikolski, Akiachak, Allakaket, Arctic Village and Kongiganak, in universities, and other institutions. Brenda has a B.A. in Art from Eastern Washington University, a Master of Arts in Teaching degree with a major in Drawing and Painting from Whitworth College, a Certificate in Pulp and Paper Technology from Lower Columbia College, and a Masters in Teaching degree from Washington State University-Vancouver, where she obtained her K-12 Teaching Certificate with endorsements in K-12 Art, K-12 Japanese, and 4-12 English. Brenda, who is listed in Who's Who in American Art, is a working artist as well as a teacher. Brenda shows in Anchorage at the Georgia Blue Gallery. Her paintings are in collections in the United States such as the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Dean Witter Reynolds, Standard Oil, Copper River Seafoods, Ketchikan Pioneers Home, and overseas. Her business is the Brenda K. Jaeger Art Studio. She paints and teaches private lessons when not at PNA. Welcome back, Brenda!

Kade Bissell - Music A current performing member of the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Bissell is a fantastic new addition to the PNA team! Bringing experience both as a performer and an educator to the classroom, Mr. Bissell will bring a renewed emphasis on music theory, performance, and the beautiful connections between music and other subjects like math and science, while continuing to imbue confidence in students through the theatrical performances that are a hallmark of the PNA music program. Welcome, Kade!

Postcards from the Classroom

Take a look at the exciting activities students were introduced to the first week of school!

Click any picture to jump into the slideshow.

Like What You See?

You Can Support It!

Your gift benefits today's students and everyone's future.

Spread the word, and don't let PNA be Anchorage's best kept secret. Let your friends know!

To make a donation or refer a family to PNA, Call (907) 333-1080 or click here to visit the giving page on our website.

Coming Right Up

Wednesday - September 4th

Annual Fund Kick-off

October 14th-18th

Space Week

You can also check out all of the upcoming events on our website by clicking calendar under our about PNA tab.

Just One More...

Many Thanks To

John Hardwick and Ral West

As always, our continued success is shared with the people and companies that support us.

Dr. Erik Maurer

Mehner-Weiser Real Estate

Dr. John Botson

AkHES: Dr. Kevin Paisley


Dr. David Beal

The FUNd Stuff is a bi-monthly (or so) publication from the staff, students, parents, and teachers of PNA. Want to know more about anything we've highlighted here? Get in touch! (907) 333-1080 or

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Thank You! 

As always, our continued success is shared with the people and companies that support us.


Many thanks to... 

John Hardwick and Ral West


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