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New superintendent named at Mt. Edgecumbe

Troy J. Thayne -- who goes by "J" -- begins work  at Mt. Edgecumbe in June.

Troy J. Thayne — who goes by “J” — begins work at Mt. Edgecumbe in June.

The turnover in Southeast school superintendents continues.

The state Department of Education announced on Friday (3-21-14) that the commissioner has chosen a new superintendent for Mt. Edgecumbe, the state-run boarding school in Sitka.

Troy J. Thayne will take over the post on July 1. Thayne — who goes by “J” — lives in Blackfoot, Idaho. For the past three years he’s been working as a consultant for the McGraw-Hill Publishing, doing specialized solutions for struggling schools. Prior to that, he was curriculum director for the Blackfoot School District.

Mt. Edgecumbe will be his second superintendency. He says he has no agenda coming into the job; he wants to get to know the predominantly Alaska Native students better, and get to know the school.

“I grew up in Seattle, so I love cultural diversity. And as I’ve lived in Idaho I’ve lived in different places where I didn’t have that. That’s one of the reasons we relocated to Blackfoot, to have more diversity. I love the Native American culture. My great-grandmother grew up in the Grangeville area, she was from a Native American background as well — Apache — so I have a love for that culture, even though I’m quite removed from it. And I’m anxious to have the opportunity to work with those students.”

Thayne holds a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho and a master’s degree in educational administration from Idaho State. He is writing his dissertation for a doctor of education degree, also from Idaho State.

Besides being a superintendent, Thayne has worked as a teacher, principal, GED instructor, and high school principal. His wife, Rebecca, is a high school Math teacher. They have five children, one in college, and four of school age who will join him in Sitka.

Thayne succeeds Randy Hawk, who’s held the top job at Mt. Edgecumbe for four years.

Hawk has been in education for 34 years, in a total of ten different teaching and administrative jobs. Mt. Edgecumbe is his last, though. He says he’s retiring.

“It’s like anything, when you think about doing the next thing. You look at what you’re dealing with: the changes, new regulations — all that kind of stuff. And you think, It’s quite a headache. But I know once you get to the point of getting away from that, there’s going to be a lot of things that I’ll be missing in education — and especially here at Edgecumbe.”

Prior to his term at Mt. Edgecumbe, Hawk was assistant superintendent in Sitka, high school principal, assistant high school principal, middle school principal, and assistant middle school principal. He began his career as a shop teacher in Iowa in 1979, but found work in Angoon, Alaska, when the farm crisis of the 1980s forced the consolidation of many schools in the Midwest.

Hawk says he plans to remain in Sitka for the time being. His wife, Catherine, is a reading specialist at Keet Gooshi Heen elementary school.

Hawk is the fifth Southeast superintendent to leave his post this year. Others include superintendents in Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau, and Sitka.

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