Seldovia and Port Graham schools are on the hunt for a new principal. Sherry Hingley is moving to the central Kenai Peninsula for next school year to work in Cooper Landing and Sterling.
Hingley has been in Seldovia for the last seven years. The first year she taught 4th through 8th grade in a multi-year classroom, and then became principal. For the last two-and-a-half years, she has been regional principal for Susan B. English and Port Graham.
“I’ve really enjoyed my years in Seldovia. It’s been a gorgeous experience. I’ve enjoyed the days that I’ve got to be in Port Graham,” she said.
She said she is moving to the Central Peninsula for her family.
“My husband is currently with me and it would provide more job opportunities for him. And my mother is living with me, who is 85, and it would just be easier for us to be able to access the services that we need,” she said.
Hingley said while she has enjoyed working in the across-the-water communities, the time has not been without its challenges – especially in Port Graham.
“If there is a student that needs to go for any type of appointment, whether it’s a dentist or health related, they have to depend on weather. It would usually take them a whole day, which would take them out of school,” she said.
She said keeping the school staffed is another concern. Hingley called the turnover rate “extreme.”
“Port Graham has had a history of teachers who are usually new to teaching and then they walk into multi-grade classrooms, and they will work there for a while. But they also have the desire to work closer to the road system or they want to start a family and don’t want to access health services by having to fly out,” she said.
But she said talking with those teachers and identifying their strengths has been a great part of the job. She also said working with students across the bay and experiencing their successes has been rewarding.
“Watching them graduate and watching them go on to something that they really wanted to do. And go to college, and graduate from college. Those are exciting conversations, talking to kids,” she said.
Hingley said her replacement needs to be an advocate for their students and their needs, but that’s not all.
“Be a person who would relate to different entities. You have students, you have staff, you have community, you have tribal councils. All of those different entities… realize that you’re really all on the same page and you want the best for what’s going to happen for the kids and their futures,” she said.
She said her daughter will remain in Seldovia, which means she will be back for visits.