Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 9:01 PM on Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Upcoming administration and faculty changes taking shape for 2011-2012

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

With months remaining before the 2010-2011 school year ends, employees of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are already making personal plans for the future.

Ninilchik School Principal Terry Martin's resignation was among those presented to the school board at Monday's meeting.

Originally from Oregon, Martin's first post in Alaska was a one-year assignment in Kotzebue. He has been with KPBSD 10 years, the first three spent at Nikolaevsk and the last seven at Ninilchik.

"I'm the longest serving principal at Ninilchik," said Martin, who makes it clear his departure from the district is not retirement-related. "I'm way too young to retire. (Son) Jake is in the first grade and I have a long ways to go before retirement."

He and his family are planning to return to Oregon. His administrative experience includes middle school, high school and, at Nikolaevsk and Ninilchik, K-12 schools, but he is hoping to expand his elementary experience.

Asked about accomplishments of which he's most proud, Martin listed getting the fierce face of Ninilchik's wolverine mascot repainted on the outside wall of the school's pool, participating in the school's 100-year celebration, maintaining AYP, adequate yearly progress, despite staff cuts and shifting student demographics, and his involvement with the Kenai Peninsula School Activities Association and the Alaska School Activities Association.

His advice for whoever is chosen to fill his shoes: "He or she shouldn't take things too seriously and keep their sense of humor about them. We have an awesome school; not perfect by any means, but awesome."

Community involvement is an important factor for a successful school, Martin said.

"It made ours what it is today. Keep that alive and thriving," he said to whoever his replacement may be.

To the faculty, staff and students, Martin encouraged they offer "support and welcome to the next leader as you did me. I had a wonderful seven years here," he said.

Also preparing to leave Ninilchik School is Jamie Leman, special education-resource instructor.

"I've had a long and interesting history and probably a unique one, being a fourth generation 'Ninilchik-en,' being Alaska native (Aleut), having gone to Ninilchik School for 12 years and having taught here for most of my career," Leman said. "I've probably spent more time in this building than anyone in the history of the school."

Leman is a 1974 Ninilchik High School graduate. She attended University of Alaska Fairbanks and Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg, Mass., completing her undergraduate work in 1979, certified to teach regular and special education for grades K-8. In 2007, she earned a master's degree in secondary curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Leman began her teaching career in Fairbanks, was the Title I tutor and half-time music teacher at Chapman School in Anchor Point during the 1981-1982 school year, and then became the K-3 teacher in Ninilchik, replacing two teachers. Her other assignments at Ninilchik include special education aide, junior high gifted education, and, in 1985, head special education teacher for grades K-12. In addition, she has taught seventh-grade math, junior high developmental reading and drama, senior career guidance class and boosted the district online and the school's web presence. Her numerous other activities include everything from organizing school blood drives to advising National Honor Society.

Twice Leman has been nominated for a BP Teacher of Excellence award and was one of five teachers selected in 2009.

She credits her mother, Edna Matson Steik, for "making me to go college when I was dragging my feet."

"You knew what was best for me and stuck to your guns and I will forever be grateful," was Leman's message to Steik.

Retirement was beyond Leman's considerations until her first grandchild, Emma Elizabeth Boin, was born five months ago.

"That changed everything," said Leman. "I am looking forward to spending more time with her and any future grandchildren."

She also will continue as "chief cook and stinky fish clothes washer" for her husband, former Wolverines girls basketball coach Dan Leman, at the family's fish site.

"Keep your eye on the prize and never give up your dreams," is Leman's departing advice to her students.

"Remember that hard work and self-discipline pay off big."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.