Story last updated at 2:37 p.m. Thursday, April 18, 2002

Huftel named assistant principal at Homer High
by Carey James
Staff Writer

Homer High's search for a new assistant principal is over. Joe Huftel was selected from four candidates interviewed earlier this month by a team of staff, parents and a student from Homer High School.

The school's principal, Ron Keffer, said he was enthusiastic about the hiring committee's choice.

"He's just a strong school administrator who understands very well how to work with a community and is an excellent choice for meshing with our student body, our staff and our community," Keffer said.

Huftel hails from the northern Wisconsin community of Rice Lake, where he has lived for the past 13 years. A decade of that time, Huftel served as assistant principal at Rice Lake High School.

Huftel said his background is in vocational education, which he has taught at the middle school, high school and college level. Though he said he misses teaching, working as an assistant principal has been rewarding.

"I enjoy the opportunities I have as an assistant principal to talk with students one-on-one about the myriad of issues they struggle with as they prepare to go out into the real world," he said.

Huftel said the idea to move to Alaska came after a visit to the state two years ago.

"This was a career decision that required a significant amount of reflection on my part," he said.

But after visiting Homer High School in early April, and meeting with Keffer, the staff and the students, the decision came easier.

"I knew I could make a life here in Homer, both personally and professionally," he said.

The new assistant principal said he was impressed by the commitment to academic achievement and the arts at Homer High.

Keffer said the position of assistant principal at the high school is a multi-dimensional one. Though the primary responsibility is that of discipline, the position also includes working with teachers as part of a problem-solving intervention team and with students through the student- assistance program addressing youth with social or academic problems.

Huftel said he plans to settle in Homer by the second week in July.

Mike Druce, a central Peninsula language arts teacher, Rochelle Streeter, an educator from McGrath, and Brad Drake, a Tyonek principal and teacher, were also interviewed for the position, which will be vacated by Bev Gillaspie at the end of this school year.