Dan Larson to be new TMHS principal

Posted: Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Juneau School District has chosen Dan Larson of Nebraska to be the next Thunder Mountain High School principal.

Larson said he is "elated" about the decision.

"Based on my experiences (in Juneau), you have a truer sense of community than any place I've ever seen," he said. "I just really am excited about the opportunity to be a part of it. ... Native Alaskans and native Juneauites know this, but it's obviously a unique, special community that has all the ingredients, as (Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich) would tell you, to become a world class school system. I really believe that. I am coming up there with nothing but the best intentions for 'collective efficacy' - that all teachers and community members believe all students can learn."

Larson said in the time immediately after he arrives, he plans to spend one-on-one time with teachers and to review Thunder Mountain's improvement plan, doing survey work and assessments.

"It's about consensus building," he said. "Doing what's best for kids instructionally, and in regards to achievement - taking the existing data, analyzing it, finding areas of deficiency in regard to where a student's not achieving, and making sure our school plan addresses those deficiencies."

Ultimately, he said every student should have a personal learning plan.

In a press release announcing the decision, Gelbrich said Larson has "a demonstrated history of developing collaborative relationships and creating school environments that foster student success."

Gelbrich visited Culler Middle School in Lincoln, Neb., last week - where Larson is currently principal - and said current staff, parents and supervisors speak "very highly" of him and credit him with transforming their Title 1 school into a high performing one.

Larson has also been a high school principal and associate principal, a teacher, a coach, a school/community coordinator and a vocational education coordinator.

Larson holds a Bachelor of Arts in industrial technology and skilled and technical science from the University of Nebraska in Kearney; a Master of Science in education administration and supervision from Creighton University; and is a Doctoral candidate in educational administration and supervision at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

He and his eight-year-old daughter, who will be attending third grade at Riverbend Elementary, will be flying up for a five-day visit at the end of this week to look at homes. He also has three college-aged children.

Larson will be replacing current principal Patti Bippus, who is stepping down at the end of this school year.

• Contact reporter Mary Catharine Martin at 523-2276 or maryc.martin@juneauempire.com.

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