The National Association of Secondary School Principals has named New Stuyahok’s Meghan Redmond the 2019 National Assistant Principal of the Year.
Redmond is originally from Wisconsin. She moved to Alaska to teach in the small village of Twin Hills in 2010. Six years later, she went to work as the assistant principal at Chief Ivan Blunka School in New Stuyahok.
“I think the most important line, probably, in my contract right now as an assistant principal is, ‘Other duties as assigned.’ Because you’re never sure what you’re going to be doing each day,” Redmond said. “It changes so much.”
Alongside her administrative duties, Redmond is the school counselor and senior adviser. She also teaches a career class to seniors, giving them the chance to learn practical skills, like filling out job applications. That work is part of what Redmond likes most about her job.
“I absolutely love providing my students the opportunity to see all the options that are out there for them,” Redmond said. “One way we do that, of course, is by providing our students opportunities to travel within Alaska, within the region, and then outside of Alaska too, when we’re able to.”
In her time as assistant principal, Redmond has worked with Yup’ik teachers to incorporate more local culture into the curriculum. She has also brought that emphasis to life outside the classroom.
When Redmond was teaching in Twin Hills, she created a program called “Yup’ik value of the month.” When she moved to New Stuyahok, she brought it with her.
“This month, the value is ‘always trying, never without.’ So when we see a student who’s going above and beyond to try something that’s hard for them, we’ll put their name on a value card, and we stick it up on a bulletin board at the school,” Redmond said. “And then at the end of the month, we pick a few of those cards to recognize as our Yup’ik value demonstrators of the month.”
Several other schools in the district picked up the program this year as well.
In the past, Chief Ivan Blunka School was among the many rural institutions struggling with high rates of teacher turnover. But this year, the school only had to hire one teacher for the fall. And last year, it had a 100% retention rate.
Redmond said much of that is due to Principal Robin Jones‘ work establishing a strong team of dedicated teachers and staff.
“Being in rural Alaska, we teach all day together, but then we also live right next door to each other after school, too,” Redmond said. “So it’s really important that everybody feels like they’re part of a team, feels like they’re supported. And we’ve spent a lot of time trying to develop that feeling here at the school.”
Dedicating that time to the staff and community, Redmond said, makes consistent education for students possible.
NASSP selected Redmond out of three finalists. The organization considers candidates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and two government agencies.