Meet the Superintendent
Welcome back for the 2017-18 school year!
It is hard for me to believe that I am starting my fourth year as Superintendent of the Juneau School District. I truly appreciate the manner in which I have been encouraged to become a part of this great community. Last year I said that educating students for the Innovation Age required four “C’s” consistency, community, cooperation and collaboration. This year, I feel like I need to modify my list. Instead of consistency, the new “C”, will be the ability to adapt to change.
Change. The world in which our children are growing up is changing at a rate we couldn’t even imagine thirty years ago. It is our job to prepare our graduates to enter a world in which they are only limited by their imagination. It is likely that within the next few years the taxi you take to the airport won’t need a driver, and the package you get from Amazon will be delivered by a drone instead of a delivery person. Teaching our children how to find and evaluate information is becoming more important as many can access the Library of Congress from their smartphone. They need to be able, on their own, to determine what is “fake news” or real! Encouraging students to use the information they find to solve problems in new ways to benefit others requires us to teach empathetic thinking. Reading, writing and arithmetic are still important, and they are not, in and of themselves, enough to guarantee success. These changes create an unprecedented challenge for schools and here in Juneau, we accept and embrace it.
A few more changes. Last spring the district conducted a nationwide search to fill the position of Director of Human Resources, left open when Ted VanBronkhorst retired. We were fortunate to find Darryl Smith, who had a similar position in an Oregon district. We were doubly fortunate when his wife Caron Smith was selected as the first principal of Juneau Community Charter School. Also new to our administrative staff this year is Nancy Peel who replaces retired principal Lori Hoover at Auke Bay Elementary School. Ted Wilson, Director of Teaching and Learning Support; Bridget Weiss, Director of Student Services; Kristin Bartlett, Chief of Staff; and, David Means, Director of Administrative Services will continue in their positions. Please feel free to contact these talented leaders with questions about personnel, budget, curriculum, athletics, activities or special needs programs.
Community. The Juneau School District is one of the finest school districts in the state - if not the entire nation. Last year we were the only school in Alaska to be named to the AP Honor roll for increasing the number of disadvantaged students taking exams AND simultaneously increase our AP Exam pass rate. We have committed partners, important instructional grants and unique programs that allow us to meet the needs of all students from pre-school through high school. Our schools offer educational opportunities that celebrate the cultural diversity, geographic location and the spirit of this special place we call home. We couldn’t do this without the wonderful people of our community and the hard work of our students and staff. Once again this year the City and Borough of Juneau has funded the Juneau School District to the “Cap” and is also funding coaches and officials for activities. Support like this is not common in other parts of Alaska! Thank you.
Cooperation. Last year I said that the 2016-17 school year was shaping up to be one of the most challenging in the history of the State of Alaska. I was right. The 2017-18 year will be even more challenging as the state works toward a sustainable budget, flat funds education, and in the process asks individuals and local government to give more while getting by with less. To this end the City and Borough of Juneau has committed $5 million to maintain our school facilities as the state no longer funds their 70%/30% split for school facility bonds. Again, thank you!
Collaboration. The nearly 700 employees in the Juneau School District work with each other, parents and members of the community to create excellent schools. We all know that families have entrusted their children to our care and expect us to give them our best every day.
This year we will face challenges, overcome obstacles, celebrate successes and learn from failures. Through it all we will stick together to incubate a better world in the minds and hearts of our children.
Dr. Mark Miller, Superintendent
School Board Selects Dr. Mark Miller to lead the Juneau School District
Dr. Miller is eager to start his work in Juneau saying, "I am honored, humbled and excited to take this position. I look forward to becoming an integral part of your vibrant and dynamic community. We will work together to ensure the students of Juneau get the world class education they deserve."
Starting out his career as a Chemistry and Physics teacher, Dr. Miller has broad experience in education. His administrative experience includes serving as an assistant superintendent in Hayward, director of human resources in both Santa Clara County and West Contra Costa Unified School District, principal at Emery Secondary School and Tracy High School, high school assistant principal and a university adjunct professor.
Dr. Miller holds a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership and a Masters of Education, Specialization in Education Administration, from the University of LaVerne. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Psychology Minor, from the University of California Davis.