Aspiring Superintendent Program

Over the past several years, the Alaska Superintendents Association has been working hard to support leadership development with all superintendents, especially new superintendents. Providing in-depth learning opportunities relevant to the Alaska’s superintendent experience is one way that ASA offers to empower Alaska’s education leaders with proven tools for success.

The Aspiring Superintendent Program is an introduction to the tools for success for any educational leader ready to learn more about next steps into the superintendent role. Developed with practical information and insight from experienced superintendents, the Aspiring Superintendent Program brings together a cohort of education leaders to empower them with effective leadership skills and connect them with seasoned superintendents who know the needs of Alaskan districts and what it takes to succeed.

The program consists of a series of webinars and personalized, virtual meetings and (when possible) face-to-face meetings focused on core skills required in today’s Alaskan school districts. Real problem-solving scenarios are explored in-depth, along with a deep analysis of common situations confronting leaders including board relations, ethics, communications, budgeting, advocacy, instruction, politics and an overall understanding of the role and expectations of the Alaskan superintendent.

To register or for more information contact Program Coordinator Sean Dusek:
See accompanying page for schedule details.

ACSA Umbrella

The Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) was created to serve as an umbrella for four of Alaska’s premier educational leadership organizations: the Alaska Superintendents Association (ASA), Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP), Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals (AAESP), the Alaska Association of School Board Officials (ALASBO) and other district office administrators.

ACSA’s unifying purpose is to support educational leaders through professional forums, provide a voice that champions possibilities for all students and provide purposeful advocacy for public education. ACSA comprises professional educational leaders of Alaska’s schools and school systems. Members include superintendents and other central office administrators, university professors, elementary and secondary principals and school business officials. ACSA is also proud to administer the Alaska Staff Development Network, Alaska’s premier, long-standing and highly regarded staff development resource. As an umbrella organization, ACSA takes a lead role in supporting and advocating for public education while recognizing the value and uniqueness of each member organization.

The ASA Aspiring Superintendent program supports Alaskan education professionals to meet their leadership goals and develop into Alaska’s next generation of education leaders who will move the learning needle forward!

Robyn Taylor has been named Alaska’s 2020 Principal of the Year!

Robyn Taylor

Be resilient, be responsive, and find what works.

Principal Robyn Taylor’s last semester started with a very broken foot in traction, a pandemic that turned school upside down while she was homebound, and a transition to homeschooling her 17-year-old daughter. So when she got the phone call that she was named Principal of the Year by the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals, she had to tell her wide-eyed daughter that the tears in her eyes were happy tears of gratitude. As a self-proclaimed optimist, Principal Taylor lives every day finding and shining light on the positive things even in this time of extreme upheavals. 

“I see this era as being a transformational change for education. We are in a position where we have an opportunity to step away from an archaic instructional age that has gone on in America for 250 years and we can really embrace personalized learning that captures the strengths of the individual,” says Taylor. “Flexibility is going to be key,” says Principal Taylor. “Be resilient, be responsive, and find what works.” 

An unconventional approach to education is not something new to her. Even before the pandemic, she began envisioning the idea of a staggered school schedule that would allow students the flexibility to start at different times of day and/or different days of the week to better support individual learning patterns. And on a typical (pre-pandemic) day in her school, it would not be uncommon to see students walk through the front door with a desktop computer, a lawn mower, small engine, or even a chainsaw. 

Taylor is the principal of Hutchison Career Center, a unique secondary public-school choice program in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District that currently serves 400 full-time and 160 part-time high school students. The career and technical education program allows high school students the opportunity to pursue one of five focused career clusters as their primary focus, with grade levels and activities as a secondary focus. The school has become so popular in recent years that the school district implemented a lottery system for accepting new students in order to allow a level playing field for students who apply to the school. 

“Robyn Taylor is truly an outstanding principal. She is skilled at navigating community and business partnerships with entities that support the mission and vision of Hutchison High School, our district’s comprehensive career technical education center,” says Fairbanks North Star Borough Superintendent Dr. Karen Gaborik. “She is also committed to ensuring practices that promote inclusion; diversity and equity are at the core of student enrollment procedures and course offerings at Hutchison.” 

Among many successful endeavors, including a campaign to greet each student at the front door every morning and another of sending each student hand-written notes of appreciation, Principal Taylor has implemented the Work Readiness Program.  

“As a former small business owner and business education teacher I have always placed significant value in preparing students to enter the workforce and make effective transitions from school-to-school, school-to-work, or work-to-school. Our school staff worked through an iterative 4-year process to develop a Workplace Readiness Score document that reports employability scores at the end of each quarter for a student to voluntarily submit to a potential employer,” Taylor said.  

The overall score is pulled directly from their Power School grading system and calculates Workplace Readiness scores based on a student’s attendance, timeliness, missing and late work. 

Just launched in 2019/2020, the program has already garnered strong support both from students using their Workplace Readiness score for job applications and employers pursuing Hutchison students for hire. On the first day scores were released two students asked for extra copies of their scores to include in job applications. 

Taylor grew up in a large family-owned business in Pocatello, Idaho that was one of the largest small business employers in the area managing five corporate entities. Her mother was the chair of Idaho State University’s College of Education program teaching CTE teachers how to teach. She had the opportunity to take over one of the businesses after a stint teaching and left Alaska to take it, but quickly learned it was not what she wanted.  

“My driver was to be in education and see students succeed,” said Principal Taylor who has a Bachelor of Business Administration, a Master of Education and an Educational Leadership Superintendent’s Certification. 

Part of that, she says, is helping students realize they have to learn to depend on themselves and to find ways to make things work for them.  

Alden Jerome, a graduate of Hutchison High School who served as the youngest Fairbanks Board of Education member, is one of those students. “The adults at Hutchison High School know students very well. As a graduate, I feel like I will have life-long friends in my former teachers. The culture led by Ms. Taylor can be summed up in a statement that those familiar with Ms. Taylor have heard often, ‘I love you in a friendly and school appropriate way,’” says Gerome. 

Her message to current students as they navigate the uncertainties of the year ahead? 

“Flexibility is key,” she says. “Be resilient, be responsive and find what works.” 

As the current Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals Principal of the Year, Taylor is eligible to be a candidate for the National Association of Secondary School Principals of the Year Award.  

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Assistant Principal Dan Beck named State of Alaska 2020 Assistant Principal of the Year

Dan Beck

“It is great to be involved in a career that I love, and I wake up each morning feeling good about going to work. As a school principal, there is so much variety in my work, and two days are never the same. I really enjoy that I am not in a position that requires me to do the same things over and over, day after day. I enjoy my interactions with students, and I am hopeful that I am making a positive impact on the students who I have worked with over the years.” –Dan Beck, Kenai Middle School assistant principal

“During my visits to Kenai Middle School, I have seen the compassion, empathy, and true sense of caring for students when walking in the halls with Dan, talking with him as he supervises lunchtime and transitions, as well as the respect he has earned from his students upon entering classrooms.” –Homer Middle School Principal Kari Dendurent

Vaughn Dosko, Kenai Middle School principal said about Mr. Beck, “Ten years ago, I was representing Alaska as the Assistant Principal of the year. It is a great pleasure to mentor and work with Dan on a daily basis for the past nine years. Our administration styles mesh in a way that we are able to draw the best out in each other. Dan’s effort and passion for Kenai Middle is on display each and every day. Dan Beck is one of the many reasons why KMS is the great place it is today.”

In his words…

“The first person to encourage me to become a principal was my wife, Tracie Beck. We were teaching together in rural Alaska and she pointed out the skills that I have that she felt would make me a good administrator. She has always been supportive and encouraging, and I am very thankful for her.” 

“KMS is a great place to work. I know that it is common to use the term family to describe the people who you work with, but here at KMS I cannot think of another way to describe our workplace relationships. Our staff is great and that really contributes to the enjoyment and fulfillment that I get out of my work. This is my ninth year as the assistant principal at KMS, and the way that Mr. Dosko shares the administrative duties with me contributes to my high level of job satisfaction and longevity. We work closely on all administrative duties and I feel valued as a member of the KMS team.” 

Thankful for mentors
“Several administrators were influential mentors to me early in my administrative career. I am thankful for the leadership and direction that Ron Keffer, Gary Whitley, Sam Stuart, and Larry Natta provided to me as I began learning the craft of school administration. They were the people who I looked to for direction and advice when I was new in the profession.” 

“I have had the opportunity to work with Dan Beck as a colleague in the capacity of a fellow principal and as a member of the Kenai Peninsula Activities Association for the past seven years,” said Kari Dendurent, Homer Middle School principal. “In addition, I have had the great pleasure of following in his footsteps as the principal of Homer Middle School. While the principal at HMS, Dan created an environment of family and hired several of the phenomenal teachers currently practicing today. It is through his foresight to find and hire quality staff that HMS has become a school of excellence. As a principal colleague, I have had the opportunity to work with Dan in calibration teams and have visited his school often. During my visits, I have seen the compassion, empathy, and true sense of caring for students when walking in the halls with Dan, talking with him as he supervises lunchtime and transitions, as well as the respect he has earned from his students upon entering classrooms. Dan’s rapport with his students is in a coaching capacity and he will treat students as individuals to support them in both their academic and social emotional needs. I have also had the opportunity to work with Dan on the Kenai Peninsula School Activities Association (KPSAA) Board. Dan is level headed in his decision-making and is able to bring the history of decisions made by the board as well as providing sound reasoning to establishing policies. Dan has been invaluable on this board to ensure fairness and equity to the student athletes of the KPBSD.”

“Mr. Dan Beck is a well deserving recipient of the Alaska Assistant Principal of the Year honor,” said Superintendent John O’Brien. “He was selected for this honor by his peers for good reason. Dan is a seasoned school administrator having served in principal and assistant principal roles in Alaska and Montana. In every decision Dan makes, he has the best interest of his students in mind. He is an amazing advocate for students and we are all very proud of him!”







Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals


Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals

Message from our Executive Director

Dear AASSP Members,

It is such a privilege to be promoting the critical role of the principal. After more than 20 years as a secondary school principal and having just completed my year as the president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, I have seen first hand the importance of the principal. I know how principals impact the climate and tenor of their schools, but more importantly, how they impact the future of their students. Few of us will ever know how many lives we have impacted, and the effect those lives will have on our communities, our state and our world.

As the president of NASSP, my goal was to “take back the conversation” on education; the conversation that says that schools are pulling themselves out of the muck and mire of poor quality education. I believe that our schools are not moving from bad to good, but from good to great — and that great schools are the result of great school leaders — leaders like you!

It is the principal who creates the culture where teachers and students feel challenged, engaged and empowered.

As I begin my first year as the executive director of the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals, I want to thank you for being a part of our statewide organization. I assure you that as your new executive director I will take every opportunity to promote the role of the principal to our government leaders, school administrators, and the general public. I have met with John Pile, executive director of the Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals and have been in constant communication with your president, president-elect, and other board members. The future for AASSP, AAESP, and education in Alaska is bright and promising.

Please know that our office has been relocated to Eagle River and is up and running and open for business. Please feel free to contact me at, or by calling 907-694-3503, or through the mail at AASSP, 21949 Lower Canyon Dr., Eagle River, AK 99577. I look forward to meeting with you at our October conference and hearing from each of you about what YOU expect from your state, and national, organizations.

Thank you for this opportunity to serve,
Denise Greene-Wilkinson
Executive Director
Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals