Cook Inlet Academy Principal Kevin Spence and 8-year-old son Nathan get a new school year under way
Kevin Spence is starting his second year at the helm of Cook Inlet Academy, locally known as the CIA, the largest private school on the Kenai Peninsula founded in 1973 by Alaskan Bush pilot and hunting guide Chuck Crapuchettes. Crapuchettes retired from CIA in 2003 and moved to China to teach English, he passed away in 2004 while in China. Under the direction of Kevin Spence, the CIA is continuing to carry out the vision of its founder and is planning for further expansion, “We’re just bursting at the seams, in the last 5 years our enrollment has increased 50%, workers are outback as we speak putting in new fields and playground equipment, and we’re preparing for a new building soon,” Spence said in a recent back to school interview. Spence and his family hail from America’s first oil community, “My grandfather was a wildcatter and my parents still live less than a mile from where the world’s first oil well was discovered in northwestern Pennsylvania,” said Spence. However, prior to moving to Alaska, Spence and his family lived in an area even more remote than the Kenai Peninsula, “We were serving as missionaries on the Navajo reservation down in northern Arizona, out in the middle of nowhere, so we’re one of the few families that came to Alaska to get closer to a McDonalds and a movie theatre rather than farther away. We had to travel 75 miles to get to the nearest major store, so having a Fred Myers only minutes away is still a blessing to us and we still appreciate it a lot,” commented Spence.
Spence seems inspired by the challenges of a school that incorporates pre-school age children through senior high school, “Coordinating and having illusions of control are two different things all together, but it is so much fun watching our seniors going into the pre-school and reading them stories and watching the young ones which include my own kids, look up to the older kids and say I want to be like them and knowing those kids and being able to say, Yeah I want you to grow up to be like them too, they’re a good model to have. So there can be a lot of advantages to having all the ages mixed around and we’re really blessed to have that here at CIA,” said Spence. The CIA principal feels that while technology has changed education, the basic principals are still the same, “The peripherals may have changed, kids have to go to the web for assignments and research, but the basics are the same, it’s still one on one interaction letting them know God loves them and the life changing benefits that can bring them. I still have kids coming in my office who misbehave, that hasn’t changed any, and parents still want the best for their kids, that hasn’t changed, they may be busier, but they still want to work with us to help their children,” said Spence.
While CIA has claimed several basketball championships over the years, Spence says its hearing the conversations and interviews after the games that means the most to him, “More important than the championships is how the students handle themselves on as well as off the court. I pray that will continue to be our measure of success.”
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