Retired administrator picked to be interim JDHS principal

John Norman to serve as district searches for permanent replacement

Posted: Sunday, August 15, 2004

John Norman, a retired Alaska school administrator, has been recommended to be interim principal of Juneau-Douglas High School, the district announced Friday.

Superintendent Peggy Cowan said she will recommend Norman to the Juneau School Board, which approves the appointments of principals. Norman would serve for up to a school year.

Norman would replace Deb Morse, who in July was named head of facilities planning for the Juneau School District. Assistant Superintendent Bernie Sorenson, a former elementary school principal, will serve as acting high school principal until Norman arrives in Juneau. It's not certain when that will be, Cowan said.

The interim appointment will allow the district to conduct a thorough process during the coming year to choose a permanent principal, the district said.

Norman's appointment won't mean the 1,600-student school takes a year off from leadership, Cowan said.

The school will begin a program in October called Continuous Connections, in which groups of 26 students and a teacher spend some time with each other during the week. The same groups are together for four years. Part of the idea is to help students form relationships with students outside their own clique.

The school district also has a small federal planning grant to work on creating smaller learning communities at the large school.

"I chose (Norman) because I know he would work really well and be able to continue the initiatives, and he's a team player," Cowan said.

Norman retired as an educator in 1997. He was a principal in the Fairbanks and Matanuska Susitna school districts.

But after retirement, he served as interim principal of Colony High School in Palmer in 1997 and as an executive director for the Anchorage School District in 1998.

Norman owns Bearclaw Lodge in Aleknagik, near Dillingham, and is an education consultant. He lives part of the year in Wisconsin and Texas. He could not be reached immediately for comment.

His awards include Fairbanks Principal of the Year, Mat-Su Principal of the Year and Alaska Principal of the Year. He also received an Alaska Federation of Natives Award of Appreciation.

His education consulting areas include staff development in instructional improvement, performance assessment, the change process, and building learning communities.

Because Norman is retired, the school district wouldn't have to pay a retirement benefit. He would be hired under a professional services contract, the exact amount of which would depend on how many days he worked. The pay would be about $72,000 for the school year, Cowan said.

• Eric Fry can be reached at

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