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New adminstrators share thoughts on new assignments

Posted: October 6, 2013 - 7:00pm

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District principals and assistant principals for the Soldotna reconfiguration were named last week after they interviewed with Superintendent Steve Atwater.

The KPBSD board of education will approve the five contracts in the spring during the normal process of administrator contract renewals. The assignments will take effect in the 2014-2015 school year.

As of now, the three schools — one tenth–through-twelfth-grade high school, one ninth-grade house and one seventh-and-eighth-grade middle school, no school names have been chosen.

Todd Syverson, the current Soldotna High School principal, was appointed as the principal of the tenth–twelfth -grade high school and Randy Neill, current Skyview High School principal, was appointed as assistant principal.

“I see it as an opportunity instead of a challenge,” Syverson said.

He said he is looking forward to being able to better meet student’s needs and take a look at different educational options for students with the increased student body. He said the total number of students will range from 580 to 610.

“My vision is to continue to strive for excellence in creating a school that has our students ready for career or college pathways that will land our students with rewarding careers and a promising future,” he said.

Syverson, who was principal at Skyview for the school’s first four years, said he is looking forward to rekindling old friendships.

“It is pretty exciting,” he said.

Randy Neill has been the administrator at Skyview for nine years.

He said he is excited to bring the students and staff together. He agrees with Syverson that there are opportunities in creating new programs and advance academic opportunities.

He said the only challenges he anticipates is trying to make a safe, welcoming and inviting atmosphere where all the tenth-through-twelfth-grade students can succeed.

Former Skyview graduate, Sarge Truesdell, will be the principal of the seventh-and-eighth-grade middle school that will move to the current Skyview High School.

“It is exciting to me, I love Skyview High School,” he said.

He did say that there will be challenges with moving an entire school.

“It’s going to be a full-fledged transition,” he said.

He said the past nine years he has served as principal there has been several staff and student changes, but he said he has never experienced a full scale, full building transfer.

“We are picking up and taking our eighth-graders up the hill, plus students from the six elementary feeder schools,” he said.

While the new location, as well as the new building may seem problematic, Truesdell said he is optimistic.

While the facility is larger, some of the classrooms are smaller than those at his current school. Also he understands the issues with some staff members who have been in their classrooms for nearly 20 years.

“We are moving into a bigger building. There are some challenges there,” he said. “We are looking forward to the change.”

Tony Graham will be the assistant principal of the middle school. He said he is looking forward to cultivating a new educational community along with Truesdell.

“I am looking forward to the ‘TnT’ show,” he said.

Curtis Schmidt, current Soldotna Middle School assistant principal, was named to be the principal of the ninth-grade house. He said he is excited about the possibilities next year will bring.

“It is a very exciting opportunity to be able to assist in establishing a new program to facilitate students becoming successful life-long learners. It is a dream job for most principals to open a new school, create new traditions, and to find new ways to meet the needs of 21st century learners,” Schmidt wrote in an email.

Schmidt said there would be challenges also.

“There will be many challenges but one of the more pressing challenges we will have to address will be adjusting our teaching methodology to meet the new Alaska Standards for English and mathematics and adapting these standards across the entire curriculum,” he wrote.

But all in all, Schmidt will work with student’s to make the transition smooth and successful.

“I would like to establish a smaller school environment where every ninth-grader has at least one staff member they connect with and knows they can go to for advice (or) help, establish a rich and engaging course of studies that sets the students up for success as they transition to the tenth-grade and that appropriately challenges all students and provides support or enrichment when students demonstrate the need,” he wrote.

Sara J. Hardan can be reached at sara.hardan@peninsulaclarion.com

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