Ronn Hemstock, industrial arts teacher at Seward High School, has been named the 2000 Vocational Instructor of the Year by the Alaska State Vocational Association.
He received the award at this year's Professional Development Conference held in Anchorage on Oct. 12 and 13.
Hemstock grew up in Los Angeles and Minnesota, where he earned educational degrees and certification to teach industrial arts, Spanish and coach sports.
He discovered Alaska on a visit in 1989 and made plans to move north. He taught in Naknek, where he was honored as coach of the year for his work with wrestlers.
Five years ago he came to Seward.
One of his students, Gunnar Berklund, was selected the district's voc ed student of the year last year.
This year, Hemstock teaches construction, power, aviation, metals, building trades and principals of technology.
Hemstock still coaches wresting. He said he is proud that his team dethroned Nikiski and earned a state championship. Last year he earned another coach of the year award.
He works seasonally as a commercial fisher and driving a luggage truck for Princess Cruise Lines. In his free time, he pursues flying and hunting.
His son Jacob lives in Kenai with Hemstock's former wife and attends Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School.
Hemstock said he believes vocational education should be promoted in area schools.
"The trend has been to cut back," he said. "However, we all live in houses and drive cars, so no matter what we do for a living, we can at least save ourselves a great deal of money and time if we understand some of the basics.
"And in Alaska it is perhaps more important as one's life can hang in the balance if their outboard fails or their car stalls on a cold snowy night 50 miles from town."
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