Surrounded by pictures of her family, Paula Casperson, the current assistant principal at Juneau-Douglas High School, sat atop the grey bouncy ball serving as her desk chair. The plaque outside her office, the one that reads ‘assistant principal,’ will soon change: on Tuesday night, she was formally appointed to succeed Ryan Alsup as principal of JDHS.
Born in Alaska, Casperson attended high school in Anchorage before moving to California for college. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a Masters in Education at Stanford University before moving to Juneau to teach.
She said that her parents placed high value on education, a value she’s maintained throughout her own education.
“I think that value placed on education sort of framed the context for what became my career path,” she said. “School’s always been important.”
After graduation, she stayed and taught in California, accepting the first position she was offered. Casperson remained in contact with Ron Gleason, the JDHS principal at the time, hoping to move back to Juneau, her hometown.
“It sounds cheesy, but this absolutely is the place I intend to raise my kids. My husband and I are both from here,” she said, adding that her husband is a teacher at Floyd Dryden Middle School. “We think that it has everything we need for our family.”
After one year of teaching in California, a position opened at JDHS and she moved back. Sixteen years later, she’s excited to move forward into her new position.
“I really appreciate the opportunity, just for myself, to always be learning,” she said.
“I like to be challenged, engaged.”
In her coming year as principal, she hopes to keep open the lines of communication between educators and parents.
“I want parents to be engaged and involved in their kids’ educations,” she said. “I want to be as clear and open in the communication as we can be.”
Moving forward, she’s confident in herself and her team of educators.
“I know through my time here at JDHS, we work so well together as a team, as a community, that we are able to do really good things for students. I think that this team has really kept an even keel in the objective of teaching and learning—the objective of growing graduates,” she said. “Those experiences lend themselves to my wanting to grow in my capacities as a leader here at this school. We have all the right pieces in place to keep doing really good things for kids, and for families and for Juneau.”
• Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at email@example.com.