Unalaska’s John Conwell has been named 2018 Alaska Superintendent of the Year.
On Thursday, the longtime leader of the Unalaska City School District received the news at the board of education’s first meeting of the new school year.
“I can’t tell you how honored I am," said Conwell. "You always sit back and think these sorts of accolades aren’t that important, but when you do get one, it’s sort of nice.”
The award was presented by Lisa Parady of the Alaska Superintendents Association. She said the district’s strong graduation rate and ESL programming set Conwell apart from other Alaska educators.
“Unalaska is viewed as a leader in the state, and it’s based on a lengthy record of student academic success,” said Parady.
Conwell is one of the state’s longest-tenured superintendents, having served for 11 years. School Board President Tammy Fowler Pound said that commitment has been critical for the district.
“Good superintendents are not a dime a dozen," said Fowler Pound. "It is hard to get a superintendent, it is hard for superintendents to have longevity, and we are so lucky to have John here.”
Meanwhile, Conwell said Unalaska schools are starting the new year at full strength.
Both buildings are fully staffed, he said, and "I’m pleased to report that our enrollment is strong. Right now, we’re in the 400 range.”
That’s a dozen students more than the school board anticipated in the 2018 budget. If enrollment stays consistent through October, the district will see a boost in state funding.
The next school board meeting is Sept. 28.