Outgoing Juneau-Douglas High School Principal Sasha Soboleff says he embraces a new opportunity to work on programs important to Alaska Natives and other minorities.
Soboleff will move to the school district's central office after this school year, his first as JDHS principal. He has been named director of special programs, a job that didn't exist before, and he'll oversee programs in Indian Studies, Native language and English as a Second Language, among other tasks.
It's part of a number of job changes triggered by the resignation of Assistant Superintendent Drew Alexander, said schools Superintendent Gary Bader.
``This is not an involuntary assignment or anything of that nature,'' Bader said.
Soboleff said when Bader first approached him last week about the job, both of them hesitated. But, Soboleff said, he told Bader: ``I think it would be a great move.''
``I have a lot of skill and a lot of background in some of the areas they need,'' Soboleff said. ``And there are programs coming online that need that perspective.''
Soboleff told school district officials in a strategic planning session last week that many Native students aren't given the information they need to succeed in school.
Lance Carpenter, the JDHS site council's facilitator, said Soboleff is probably the best person in the district for his new job. Soboleff understands issues such as language skills and cultural differences need to be dealt with early in students' education and all the way through it, he said.
``Having Sasha on the district staff to manage those kinds of things is very appropriate,'' Carpenter said.
But the change means JDHS could have three different principals over three years after a long period of stability. Soboleff replaced longtime principal Ron Gleason. Deb Morse, now an assistant principal, will replace Soboleff for at least a year while the district searches for a long-term principal.
It's good to have a year to think about what kind of skills the new principal needs at this point in the school's history, said Sally Rue, a site council member and former school board president ``It's such a big job it's hard for one person to fill each part of it.''
Dale Staley, the district's technology coordinator and a former school board member, will fill Morse's vacated position. The technology duties will be assigned to other administrators, Bader said.
Peggy Cowan, the district's director of curriculum and assessment, has been named assistant superintendent. She will continue to work on curriculum development, Bader said.
That leaves Cowan's former position empty for now. It could be reclassified for different duties, Bader said.
The changes, which take effect July 1, won't cost the district more, Bader said. ``It's basically people going into jobs at or less than their predecessor made.''
Soboleff, a JDHS graduate, became principal this school year after serving 11 years as assistant principal. He has a master's degree in education administration, has taught at the elementary and high school levels, and has been principal and superintendent for the Hydaburg School District.
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