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Our mission is to create quality educational and personal growth opportunities for rural Alaska through culturally trained educators, peer mentors and others.


Through strategic partnerships we help foster holistically healthy rural Alaskans and enable them to thrive and seize opportunities that benefit their families, communities and culture.



Alaska has many unique and distinct communities, cultures, languages, traditions and each must be embraced in order to help Alaskans become holistically healthy.


Spirituality is an important cultural value, and we believe it is a crucial component of individual health and growth. We adhere to Christian values.


Character is the foundation of personal and community health displayed through traits such as respect for Elders and others, humility, integrity, compassion and excellence.


We see education as a means to open doors for students and a tool to help them develop character, competency and knowledge of culture.


We value the many great people, initiatives and organizations that serve Alaska and its people and seek partnerships with them to help Alaskans become holistically healthy.


Healthy mentorship is a critical component for personal growth and maturity and is needed in every generation.



The Yupik word for teacher is “elitnauriste.” 

The average teacher tenure in rural Alaska is less than 1 school year, and each year, more than 100 teacher positions remain unfilled in the rural communities of Alaska. This creates significant challenges for school districts, rural villages and diminishes the quality of education for Alaskan students. There is significant need for more educators but more strategically for increased teacher retention and educators cognisant of native Alaskan history, culture and values.

At AKSP we work to meet this need through our “Elitnauriste Program” by strategically:

  • Recruiting graduates and teachers from around the nation who share our values to come and teach in Alaska.
  • Providing 10 months of cultural immersion training and continued education to prepare each teacher candidate for teaching in rural Alaska.
  • Forming cohesive teams of teachers to be placed in villages that will significantly increase teacher retention and health.
  • Providing continued resourcing & training for teaching teams in rural communities.
  • Coaching our teachers to become more than resident educators. Endorsed Elitnauriste Program graduates will be able to be equipped healthy life coaches, mentors, and positive members of the community they serve.

A teacher in rural Alaska should not just be an educator but a “elitnauriste”.


The Yupik word for friend is “Yugnikekng’aq”

Peer mentorship is powerful and effective. Research indicates that rural high school students who have a friend at the university are much more likely to attend that university.  Once at the university, having a healthy friend significantly increases the likelihood of retention and more importantly success.

Through our Peer mentorship program we:

  • Build partnerships with on-campus organizations to recruit college students who will be qualified to serve as healthy peer mentors and share the values of AKSP.
  • Train these peer mentors to effectively mentor students from rural Alaska.
  • Provide opportunities for relationships to form via school visits around the state.
  • Provide accountability and opportunities for follow-up and future relational connections between the student and peer-mentor.
  • Resource peer-mentors to continue peer mentorship from high school to the end of a rural student’s college experience.

*More information coming soon.


Paul Burkhart

President - Fairbanks

Paul directed an NGO in Southeast Asia for 9 years before moving to Alaska. These organizations focused primarily on education in rural places. Paul has now been directing Alaska Chi Alpha, a statewide ministry for college students since his arrival to Alaska in 2014. Paul brings both leadership and experience to the AKSP team.

Jimmy Okitkun

Board Member - Kotlik

Jimmy and his wife Maggie live in Kotlik. He has pastored the church there for many years and also serves in a statewide ministerial leadership role. Jimmy has a passion to see students grow and be healthy in every area of the Yukon Delta.

Steven Pavek

Vice President - Anchorage

Steven Pavek earned a teaching degree from North Dakota State University in 2012. After teaching for 2 years, Steve and his wife, Erin, moved to Alaska in 2014 to launch Chi Alpha at UAA. Steve is passionate about using his teaching skills and experience to see students grow and improving the quality of educational experiences in Alaska.

Deidre Jenson Ed.D.

Board Member - Deering

Deidre has been a teacher all over Alaska over the course of the last 14 years. She now serves as the principal of the school in Deering, AK. Deidre’s background is in Special Education and she has completed her doctorate in Education.

Crystal Burkhart

Training Director - Fairbanks

Crystal has been an educator since 2008 in various roles in Southeast Asia and Alaska. She joins our team with experience in teaching cross-culturally and with exceptional learning populations. She has her MEd in both Elementary Education and Special Education bringing both creativity and mentorship to our team.

Bob White

Board Member - Bethel

Bob White moved to Bethel with his wife Rochelle in 2005. Bob works for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation and directs H.O.P.E. in Alaska. This non-profit is a faith-based organization that is committed to helping students along the Kuskokwim excel and focuses on reducing suicide in rural Alaska.


Thank you for partnering with us

All donations are tax-deductible.