Dzantik'i Heeni principal candidates interviewed

Posted: Sunday, March 13, 2011

Four candidates for principal of Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School were interviewed Friday, with a community meet-and-greet Thursday.

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MICHAEL PENN / Michael Penn
MICHAEL PENN / Michael Penn

The position opened last summer and assistant principal Molly Yerkes has been filling the role as interim principal this year.

The public was invited to sit in on interviews and fill out comment cards.

Molly Yerkes

Molly Yerkes has worked at Dzantik’i Heeni for the past six years, the first five as assistant principal.

She earned her bachelor’s in liberal arts with a social sciences emphasis from the University of Alaska Southeast, English as a second language endorsement from the University of Hawaii, Master of Arts in teaching from UAS, master’s in educational leadership from the University of Alaska Anchorage and will finish a master’s in public administration this spring at UAS.

“In this year that I’ve been doing the interim, our absenteeism has been cut in half,” Yerkes said. “National tests so far have been incredibly positive with high gains and discipline has been way down so I would really like to continue the initiatives that we’ve started and keep the positive progress that we’ve made moving forward.”

Yerkes’ goals for the school would also be to continue all of the progress made to the DZ Outcomes and Goals.

Yerkes said one thing that’s kind of unique about her is she’s bilingual.

“I’ve been able to bring in our Spanish speaking families and make them feel included in the school,” she said. “I think that’s made a big difference here.”

Shannon Avenson

Shannon Avenson has served as principal of the kindergarten through 12th grade Northome school in Minnesota for six years. She also serves as athletic director and volleyball coach.

She earned her bachelor’s in life and general sciences from Bemidji (Minn.) State University, holds a master’s in educational administration from the University of St. Cloud (Minn.), and has superintendent and principal licenses.

Avenson is interested in the position because she’s looking for a new challenge.

“I’ve been in rural Minnesota and I just kind of thought Juneau would be a beautiful place to bring my family,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of research and visiting with friends and with people who have lived here and thought this would be a good fit.”

Avenson said the school has a good foundation, so her goals would be to keep improving upon test scores and fostering the relationship between staff, students and families and keeping a sense of community.

Avenson has been married for 11 years and has three small children who helped pick Alaska.

Kevin Shipley

Kevin Shipley currently serves as a middle school principal at Lake Olympia Middle School in Missouri City, Texas.

He earned his bachelor’s in business from Oklahoma City University, holds an Oklahoma state teaching certificate in business administration, has a master’s in education for educational administration and mid-management certification from Texas A&M University, and a superintendent certification from the University of Texas, Tyler.

Shipley said he’s interested in the position because of the opportunity to come to Juneau. He said it’s always been a dream of his to move to Alaska and his family is excited for the chance.

“My goals are to take it from where it is now and increase our student performance levels no matter what the demographics,” he said. “I want all kids just to be successful. I want to look at all the good things you’re doing here and leave those things alone and just expand on the programs that are already here.”

Shipley said he has had a lot of success in all the places he’s been and is an active part of the community. He and his wife look forward to being active members of this community.

Nancy Hudson

Nancy Hudson is currently an administrator for the Scottsdale Unified School District in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Hudson earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Master of Education in educational leadership and policy from the University of Washington.

Hudson, who is originally from Ketchikan, said she is interested in the position partly because she wants to move back to Southeast and recently married a Juneau man. She said she feels she can provide a lasting impact on the school because she has worked with both primary- and secondary-aged students so she knows where youth are coming from and where they need to go to be successful.

Hudson said her goals for the school would shape with strong collaboration will all the stakeholders of the school — including community members, parents, staff and the district.

Hudson wants to be able to affect a change that would make it easier for kids to transition into the middle schools.

“My goal is ultimately to get the kids to (be able to) choose successful career paths,” she said. “Every kid should be able to have the background so they can make choices and go into areas where they want and be successful in life.”

Hudson also is a final candidate for the open Riverbend Elementary School position.

For full candidate resumes see:

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at

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