KETCHIKAN (KDN) — The Alaska Legislature in April approved a commendation honoring Cecilia “Lori” Christiansen for her “lifelong dedication to educating Alaska’s children,” which now includes 42 years with the Annette Island School District.
Christiansen continues to teach, focusing since 2008 on a reading program that supports students with dyslexia.
According to the commendation signed by Senate President Peter Micciche, House Speaker Louise Stutes, Sen. Bert Stedman and Rep, Dan Ortiz, Christiansen was born and raised in the Athabascan villages of Shageluk and Holy Cross.
She moved with her family to Metlakatla in 1979, and started work with AISD as a substitute teacher, librarian and classroom aide. She completed her bachelor of arts in elementary education degree through Alaska Pacific University and continued working in the district, mostly teaching first through sixth grades.
“During that time, she impacted the lives of her students, giving them confidence to learn and encouraging them to set high standards for themselves and their peers,” states the commendation. “Over the years, Lori earned a reputation as a teacher who was able to get through to even the most challenging students, with one principal affectionately calling her the ‘apple polisher.’”
In addition to teaching, Christiansen has served in other positions over time, including as president of the Metlakatla Education association, president of the Parent/Teacher Club and coach of the Battle of the Books Club, according to the commendation. “She also is a leader and lifetime member of the Girl Scouts of America, and serves as a Eucharistic minister.
In addition, Christiansen has authored a book: “The village School master: Two Daughters, Two Cultures.”
Recently, the AISD Board of Education congratulated Christiansen on the Alaska Legislature’s commendation.
“It was an honor — the School Board called me up there and congratulated me,” Christiansen told the Daily News. “It was really nice of them.”
During the brief conversation that touched on aspects of her teaching career thus far and some of the changes that have occurred over time, Christiansen said that she’s “thankful for all the people along the way that helped me out.
“I just truly appreciate all the things that people did for me,” she said.