For five years, Douglas Hayman has been driving past Tustumena Elementary School on the Sterling Highway thinking it would be the perfect place for him.
Now, the self-proclaimed “cowboy” with two masters degrees in education has landed a position as principal in the 150-student school.
While he isn’t from the Kenai Peninsula, Hayman said his boat has lived here in Homer with a friend, waiting for a summer of halibut fishing.
“I only have one bad habit and that’s fishing,” he said, with a laugh. “I’m pretty sure that I’m going to fit in well here.”
Hayman has been a principal at an elementary school in Port Angeles, Wash. for the past 21 years.
His Alaska adventure began when he was in college in Iadaho.
“A gentlemen came over ... showed me picture of people catching crab and fish right off the point and I just told him to sign me up,” he said. “I started teaching in Port Angeles and then worked my way through until I became an administrator there.”
The first thing he did when he got the keys to the new school was open every door in the building.
It’s been just a few short weeks since he arrived, but Hayman is already proud of the school its programs and quick to point out the quality of instruction.
He said the amount of space and quality of technology in the room surprised him.
“You could play basketball in here,” he marveled about one of the first-grade classrooms.
Hayman, who has a degree in educational technology, said he was ready to help teachers learn to use technology to supplement their instruction.
“All of the stuff I learned during my master’s is obselete now but I learned about learning about technology and how it can be used as an instructional tool and probably best how to step away from the blinking lights and the glitter and look at the actual learning that supports instruction,” he said.
Hayman says he has no intention of stepping in and changing instruction but he’s exited to help teachers expand their teaching beyond self-contained into more collaborative efforts.
Meanwhile, he’s promised to learn every student’s name by Halloween.
Hayman said one thing that has made him stick out is his regular cowboy-hat Fridays.
“I am a cowboy. I’m pretty sure that cowboy hat over there is the only one in the whole school,” he said, pointing to a coat rack in his office. “As far as a grown man wearing a cowboy hat, I haven’t seen too many. (The teachers) tolerate it. They might chuckle a little.”