Ayaprun Elitnaurvik Elementary School
Lower Kuskowim School District
Joshua Gill has served Lower Kuskokwim School District for over 20 years. As principal of K-8 Ayaprun Elitnaurvik Elementary School (AEES), Gill stewards a unique educational model rooted in the culture and language of the Yup’ik people. The school’s holistic approach incorporates both Western and Indigenous knowledge systems, immerses students in the Yugtun language, and prioritizes family and community participation in building a culturally responsive climate that preserves Indigenous language and culture. The school uses community radio, for example, to reach families without access to internet or social media and engages community elders as teachers of Indigenous knowledge and practice, including hunting and harvesting traditions that cultivate respect for nature. Gill led a school expansion project, including the collaborative development of a Yugtun curriculum and facilitating the state approval process. Colleagues describe Gill as a data-driven instructional leader and fair and inclusive decision maker with a “learning from mistakes” approach to discipline. At AEES, as well as at his previous post, Gill has demonstrated an ability to support community growth and resilience. Gill previously served as a board member of the Alaska Governor’s Council on Disability and Special Education. He holds an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Maine at Fort Kent.