The principal of the Kachemak Selo and Razdolna schools will be retiring in June. Tim Whip has taught every grade level, except kindergarten. He became principal of Razdolna roughly six years ago and Kachemak Selo about four years ago.
Whip said the schools have embodied personalized learning and have incorporated more technology during his tenure.
Both schools are in Russian Old Believer villages, and Whip said his biggest accomplishment is accommodating community needs. He said the schools have a system in place for students who may have to miss weeks of class to fish or attend a wedding.
“So it's like here's the courses you need to take and assignments you need to get done,” he said. “Then we've been able to accommodate them with some migrant computers or whatever they need to take with them so they can get that coursework finished.”
Whip adds that hiring teachers has a been a challenge as the schools handle budget shortfalls at both the borough and state level. He said by the time administrators know how many teachers they can hire, most qualified teachers are taken.
“I think it happened again this year where we're still trying to hire teachers this time of year, and a lot of people have already made their decision, and it's tough finding staff to fill those positions," he said.
Experiences like these is part of the reason he decided to become an education-funding advocate.
“Even though we say we have a free public education, it's not free,” he said. "We do have to pay for it and education is not cheap, so I think that a lot of the things that we can do in schools is determined at the state level. I'd like to work up there.”
But after 33 years of working in education, he said he’s first ready to take a break. Greg Melvin, a former special education teacher, will take over at Razdolna. Voznesenka principal Mike Wojciak, will now oversee students in both Voznesenka and Kachemak Selo.