New principal selected for Paul Banks school

Eric Pederson, site administrator at Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat, a K-12 school in Quinhagak, has been offered and has verbally accepted the position of principal at Paul Banks Elementary School, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District announced Wednesday.

Pederson and two other candidates were interviewed Feb. 28, by Dr. Steve Atwater, district superintendent, before a crowd of approximately 40 parents, school faculty and staff, district personnel and interested community members.

He has been at the Quihagak school, where Yup’ik is the first language, since 2007. He was the site administrator at Anna Togeluk Memorial School in Nunapitchuk from 2005-2007, and has a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Alaska Anchorage. He also has taught in Wisconsin and Maine.

During the interview, Pederson, the only one to travel to Homer to be interviewed in person, was asked by Atwater why he thought he was the best person for the job. Pederson noted his elementary education experience in and out of the state, his many years in the bush and said, “I’m a good leader, my staff likes me, I have a very good school climate and I think I’m more than qualified for the job.”

As the parents of three children, Pederson said he and his wife value life-long learning and strive to make sure their children “see us reading, studying, cramming for tests and interviewing.”

Having already done some research on Paul Banks, Pederson was asked by Atwater what he saw as the school’s strong points.

“The thing that struck me in the right way was the parent involvement,” he said. “You have a lot going on. … This would be a school I’d like to send my children to.”

With regard to the elementary school’s weaknesses, he drew laughs when he noted “a huge puddle I almost slipped in on my way in. There’s always room for improvement.”

Each of the three candidates was asked 19 prepared questions. Included were several scenarios for which they described their response. One scenario involved an individual who identified himself as the father of a student, but not named on the student’s enrollment form, arriving at school to take his daughter to lunch. Pederson said he dealt with situations like that “a lot.”

“School safety, student safety are first and foremost,” he said “I would definitely want to know who the dad is, if he has legal custody. … It could be a kidnapping, it could be anything. … I’d put my foot down if it wasn’t his child. … That said, it could be really embarrassing if the dad just came from Iraq. I’d have to hustle on that situation and find out.”

Interviewed using Skype were Lynette Reime and Nate Crabtree.

Reime is a seven-year principal of a North Beach School District preschool through sixth-grade elementary school in Ocean City, Wash. She taught grades 2 and 4 in Ketchikan from 1990-2001, worked for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District from 1986-1990 and served on that school district’s board of directors from 1989-1990. She was awarded a master’s of education degree from South Dakota State University in 1995.

Nate J. Crabtree was the third candidate for the Paul Banks position. In 2011-2013, Crabtree was a principal with teaching duties at a K-8 school in the Southwest Region School District at Clark’s Point and currently serves as assistant principal at a Togiak K-12 school in the same district. He has a master’s of education degree from Montana State University, was a curriculum specialist for the Lodge Pole School District in Montana from 2010-2011, a classroom teacher for grades 5-8 for that district and from 2003-2005 taught grades 3-4 for the North Slope Borough School District in Wainwright.