Jennifer Derks has her students end the school day with the same lesson, every day.


“We end by doing appreciation,” she said. “The kids don’t know who they have to appreciate. We just randomly draw names and they have to find something to compliment that person on.”


The purpose of the exercise is to build community, according to Derks.


“We all have to work with different personalities and we have to be able to find the best in each other. I think it’s important to start right away.”


Derks teaches 4th grade at Bayshore Elementary. Originally from Lake Tahoe, Derks feels right at home in Anchorage and is embracing an explorer lifestyle. In fact, she has a personal connection to one of America’s original pioneers.


“Daniel Boone’s sister is my husband’s like 4th great grandma,” Derks said. During the last full week of school, her students learned about the people who first sailed to North America from Europe.


“I think it’s neat for the kids to learn about people who took chances,” Derks added.


She also hopes her students remember it’s ok to laugh and make mistakes.


“I model that all the time … I hope I’ve taught them that, to keep trying,” she said.



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