by Michelle Strubeck for Seward City News-
With the new school year underway, Seward Elementary has welcomed Alan Haskins as its new principal. Alan and his wife Laura are originally from Polson, Montana. The Haskins originally came to Alaska because of a shortage of teaching opportunities in Montana. That was 19 years ago, when an opportunity in Dutch Harbor came about. Alan and his family lived there for 15 years before moving on to Seldovia for 3 years. Alan said one of the Haskins’ criteria for making the move to Seward was to remain near the water, while no longer having to concern themselves with ferry schedules and planes. Aside from the location, Alan stated that he has had his finger on the pulse of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD) for quite some time. He went on to say that the KPBSD has very good academics, excellent teachers, a dynamic education system and wonderful support from the community.
This is Alan’s 26th year working in education. He started as a teacher teaching welding, carpentry and computer aided drafting (CAD). During Alan’s years in the classroom he had a mentor who suggested he think about working his way into administration. At times when an administrator was out of the office, Alan had the opportunity to fill in. With a new window open, Alan discovered he enjoyed being a leader and problem solving in a different way, rather than in the classroom. After 20 years as a teacher, Alan decided it was time for a change and he made his move into administration.
One aspect Alan enjoys about his job is seeing what amazing work teachers do, and their ability to reach every student. Alan also remarked it is refreshing to see professionals working hard day in and day out to educate students.
Now that the school year has begun, one of the things Principal Haskins is most looking forward to is trying to learn the names of all 304 students that attend Seward Elementary. Being personable is high on his priority list.
When asked what he sees as his greatest challenge, Haskins explained this year marks wave one of a new initiative called Personalized Learning. Seward Elementary is one of seven schools in the KPBSD that will be introducing the program. The personalized learning program will allow students to have more control over the pace at which they learn. The program is individualized to the students’ interests. It also incorporates the ability to access information at any time, whether inside or outside of the classroom. As this new initiative begins, Principal Haskins wants to bring teachers and staff together to work towards the common goal of defining what personalized learning means for Seward Elementary.
One of Alan’s long term goals for Seward Elementary is to make it the best school in the KPBSD. He said that in 2008 Seward Elementary was recognized as a Blue Ribbon school, an award that recognizes schools with exceptional test scores.
All educators have a vision of what their ideal school environment is. Alan’s ideal environment is one in which the students arrive with smiles on their faces and where every student and teacher feels safe. At the same time, he said no one should be afraid to try and fail. He calls this “failing forward.” Learning can be fun, and school should be a place where teachers can enjoy what they do and be supported in every way in order to perform their jobs efficiently.
Principal Haskins believes communication is key between parents and the school. He wants parents to know that he has an open door policy and they are welcome to meet with him at any time. Alan said he is the type of person that doesn’t like rumors; he prefers direct discussion in his office or at a PTA meeting.
Something to look forward to later in the school year is the Young Americans presentation which will take place on March 17th and 18th, 2018. The Young Americans is a group from the lower 48 that will take over the school for two days. Every student will be involved with putting on a production for the community around a centralized theme. The theme can be anything from bullying to respect, or climate and culture of the school. He expects it to have a distinct and powerful message.
As we know, it takes a village to raise a child. If you would like to become part of that village, Seward Elementary is always looking for volunteers to help out. For more information contact Kathi Davis at 907-224-3356.