Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 7:38 PM on Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Retiring principal ready for more fishing, traveling

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer

After 38 years in education, 18 in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and assignments at six KPBSD schools, retirement is next for Chapman School Principal Sharon Trout.

Trout was teaching in Colorado State University's Education Department prior to coming to the peninsula as a Title I aide at McNeil Canyon Elementary School, and then head-of-the-bay school Kachemak Selo. After receiving her Type B administrative credential, Trout became principal at Razdolna. From there, she went on to become the assistant principal at Homer High School, divided her time over a 10-mile span as a regional principal for Nikolaevsk and Chapman schools and then became principal at Chapman.

This will be Trout's last school year with the district. When the 2010-2011 school year comes to an end, she'll begin a new chapter, retirement. She and husband Alex Trout, principal at Voznesenka School, who also is retiring at the end of the school year, have plans to "travel next year, get closer to my parents in Colorado and get to a place where we can fly fish more than five months a year," said Trout.

With her son, Brad, and his wife, Lisa, living in the Homer area, the Trouts will be back for visits and to "hit the summer river fishing."

Reflecting on her years on the Kenai Peninsula, Trout said her memories focus on the students she's known and the families, communities and district personnel with whom she's worked.

"Every accomplishment stems from trying to help our kids. Nothing is accomplished alone," she said. "I might have lit a few fires to get things going, but without the parents, teachers and community, not much could have been done alone."

Trout used Chapman as an example of academic achievements that can be accomplished in a short period of time.

"The National Title I School of the Year (designation) was a great example of teacher buy-in," said Trout. "We started analyzing data, changed schedules, lengthened our reading and math instruction time school-wide, included a daily intervention time school-wide and settled in on tightening the curriculum. We saw amazing results."

Trout also has seen the addition of pre-kindergarten at Chapman, a "long, hard-fought process," she said.

"The results of this extra half-day of school last year is staggering and follows all research-based results, it works," said Trout. "Our kindergartners have had the extra jump start and are excelling not only academically, but socially as well."

For her predecessor, Trout encouraged getting to know students' families and community dynamics.

"You will never find such loyal, supportive, caring people," she said. "Understand that any changes take time and buy-in. Run with the go-getters and movers and shakers. The others will find that the energy is catching and tremendous things will happen."

When administrative responsibilities begin to pile up, budgets are cut and deadlines loom, Trout suggested Chapman's next principal pay a visit to the pre-kindergarten classroom.

"You will always get re-energized and find your purpose in what you're doing again," she said.

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