The FUNd Stuff at PNA!

Cultivating a Growth Mindset

Vol. 8, Issue 3

By: Kailyn Hooley

Communications & Development Support

Ms. Hitchcock's 2nd graders celebrate after completing their first round of egg drops!

There have been phrases and comments that I have heard throughout my life that I have held onto tightly; phrases like, "try, try, try again," "don't give up," and "one foot in front of the other." At the time I didn't have the vocabulary for a growth mindset, but since reading Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck's book, "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" I have begun the active lifelong process of differentiating between growth and fixed patterns of thought. As I have settled into life at PNA, I have been excited by the ways this theory is woven into practice through our progressive educational model that utilizes project based learning (PBL). It is quite refreshing, especially during this frustrating time in our world.

"Fixed Mindset: This is the belief that intelligence and talent are fixed traits and talent alone creates success.  In other words, you either have it or you don't.

Growth Mindset:  This is the belief that intelligence can be grown and that abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication.  Perseverance, grit and determination all play a role in growth mindset."

Follow this link to read about Growth Mindset in Ms. Hitchcock's class in 2019

Cultivating a growth mindset requires continually reflecting on experiences and accepting the challenges that we face in order to find/create solutions to push forward. A big part of this process is attitude, which is mirrored in our actions, and demonstrated through our efforts. The phrase, "all things are possible if you just believe," is partially true as long as you take the steps to work towards any particular goal. Here at PNA, our faculty instill this model in our students, something that sets us apart as an independent school. The goal being to make our students seekers of knowledge, rather than seekers of approval. Growing up, my school wasn't an environment that encouraged this mindset for me, it was a place that created anxiety around test scores as a measurement of worth. Fortunately, I had some great role models and coaches that helped me push forward.

PNA students are active learners!

PNA's utilization of project based learning (PBL) helps our students develop a vocabulary to use as they model what a growth mindset looks like, of which creates agency and drive to learn. Cultivating this set of tools is something that students will not only use in an academic setting, but in life in general. As such, PBL gives context to learning, it isn't about completing an assignment as quickly as possible, but rather encourages students to ask in-depth questions, research, and design creative solutions. This also provides space/time to critique, reflect, and revise/redesign. The annual egg drop here at PNA is a PBL project that utilizes the growth mindset model.

Marcella Hitchcock, our 2nd grade teacher, has said, "At PNA, students practice a growth mindset.  They are engaged in challenges and opportunities for growth every day.  Teachers support and lead them in developing a courageous and reflective way of thinking to not only come back from mistakes, but to not be afraid to make them in the first place.  One way of doing this is to provide students with the language they need to "train their brain" and strengthen their growth mindset."

With all that has been said, a growth mindset works to redefine what success is. This will vary person to person, but overall the value is about the journey, not the destination. Choosing to look at the steps taken to reach our goals helps us better understand what worked vs what needs to be adapted. As such, it isn't necessarily what you have done, but how you have done it and what you learned from the experience. Thus, failure connotes a different meaning, becoming a positive element in our journey of growth.

In the end, I've begun to see how PNA's mission to educate students to be exceptional learners and independent thinkers of vision, courage and integrity is tied to the philosophy of a growth mindset. By providing these tools, students can not only stretch their minds at PNA, but in life beyond. As such, nothing is out of reach!

Thank you all for your continued support of PNA!

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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.

Ways to Support PNA

Link your Fred Meyer rewards card:

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Shop with Amazon Smile:

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On your first visit to, you need to select Pacific Northern Academy from the list of charitable organizations before you begin shopping.


Pick.Click.Give. allows Alaskans to donate a portion of their Permanent Fund Dividend to causes they care about statewide.

While applying for your PFD online, your can choose to Pick.Click.Give to Pacific Northern Academy. All donations are tax deductible and donors will receive tax documentation from the State once their donations have been processed. Permanent Fund Dividend applications are available from January 1 to March 31, though Alaskans may choose to add or adjust their pledges online through August 31.

Many Thanks to

John Hardwick and Ral West

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

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


Skiva Investments LLC



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