Secretary of Education DeVos spoke with Fairbanks leadership

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ tour of Alaska sat down for a roundtable with around 30 state and local leaders to talk about workforce development. There were representatives included those from the university, industry and Alaska Native organizations to speak to the secretary about the unique challenges and opportunities in the Interior of Alaska.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ tour of Alaska sat down for a roundtable with around 30 state and local leaders to talk about workforce development in Fairbanks. (Sara Tewksbury/KTVF)

DeVos says it's inspiring how committed the community of Fairbanks is to the development and continued opportunities for students of all ages. "It's something that if a community has it, they'll be successful, so I'm confident that the folks of Fairbanks are going to continue to find the right opportunities to provide for students of all ages," said DeVos.

One topic DeVos is a big proponent of is giving students and families a choice over which school they attend. Sabrina Brinkley with Spruce Tree Montessori School says Fairbanks has many opportunities for students at the post-secondary level, including a traditional university setting, distance learning, and apprenticeship programs. "I think we need to have that same conversation at the K-12 level as the Secretary said, enhancing the fabric of our K-12 opportunities in Alaska," said Sabrina Brinkley, head of school and founder of Spruce Tree Montessori.

Anupma Prakash Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of UAF says her biggest takeaway was that today's students will have multiple careers. "They need multiple pathways in their education to be prepared to join the workforce and serve the state and that's where the university prepares them for, and that's where we partner with the school districts and the industry," said Prakash.

There was confusion over whether the event was open to the public, so when residents like Pam Groves showed up to attend, she was turned away finding out it was a private event.

"It often seems when there are VIP's, there are these special scripted events but they only invite other VIP's and those of us who vote and pay taxes don't get to participate or even listen to the discussions," said Pam Groves, UAF employee.

At the end of the round table, representatives took a moment to talk about some of the achievements that organizations and students have accomplished in this community.

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