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Three Dillingham educators recognized with statewide awards

Isabelle Ross/KDLG

As the school year winds down, three educators from Dillingham have received statewide awards for their work.

BP Teachers of Excellence

Dillingham Elementary School fourth-grade teacher, Andrew Berkoski, received a BP 2018 Teachers of Excellence award.

“Fourth-grade is my favorite age to teach,” said Berkowski, who has been doing so for five years. “I have taught from fourth all the way through the university level. And fourth graders are by far my favorite. Like I always say, the cement is still wet, they’re still very moldable. They’re fun. They get things quickly, and it’s never a dull moment.”

Alaska After School Hero

Deanna Baier received the Alaska After School Hero award for her work as a Bristol Bay 4-H Coordinator and Tribal Indian Child Welfare worker. Baier has been working with Bristol Bay 4-H since 2014. She has expanded the program to multiple locations in Bristol Bay, and she just opened a new location in Anchorage.

Credit Courtesy of the Alaska Afterschool Network.
Deanna Baier received an Afterschool Superhero award as a Bristol Bay 4-H coordinator and Tribal ICWA worker.

“The 4-H activities provide positive prevention and wellness activities for kids to keep them safe, and to keep them out of trouble,” said Baier. “And I also believe in the power of five, which is that each successful youth has five positive adults that they can turn to in crisis or whenever they need help or assistance. And so the 4-H program helps to provide those.”

Bristol Bay 4-H is an extracurricular club for youth from kindergarten through 12th-grade, and Baier says that close to one hundred kids are currently enrolled. She expects that number to jump during the summer culture camps.

“I think from the culture camps the kids get a sense of community,” Baier explained. “You have a bunch of kids that may not normally hang out or work together come together for a month and participate in cultural activities such as native dancing, and arts and crafts, drumming. The kids are able to make dance fans and headdresses.” 

Staff Make Students Count

Wanda Wahl received a Staff Make Students Count award for her work as a program liaison and special project assistant at the UAF Bristol Bay campus.

Credit Courtesy of the UAF Bristol Bay campus.
Wanda Wahl received the Staff Make Students Count award for her work as a program assistant at the UAF Bristol Bay campus.

“I just feel very honored that there were coworkers and students that thought highly enough of me to do that – to nominate me,” said Wahl. “Even if I wasn’t selected, just knowing there were people who had been kind enough to say nice things about me just warmed my heart.”

The award recognizes university staff who have provided exceptional service to students anywhere in the University of Alaska system. Wahl is a student herself, and taking rural development classes while working has given her insight into what many students are dealing with.

“I have a lot of empathy for the students who are having a real life and then trying to take classes also,” said Wahl. “The same frustrations that students run up against that I try to help them with, I get to run up against too.”

At the Bristol Bay campus, Wahl said she is able to help make the system work for the people of the region. 

Contact the author at or 907-842-5281.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.