Cass Pook, the former vice-president and longest serving member on the Sitka School Board, was elected president during Wednesday night’s meeting (10-12-16). (Robert Woolsey/KCAW photo)

Cass Pook, Yaxthlaahaat Daxthlawadi, is the new president of the Sitka School Board.

During Wednesday night’s (10-12-16) special meeting, Pook was chosen by a blind election by her four fellow school board members. The board also elected Dr. Jennifer McNichol as Vice President and Eric Van Cise as Secretary.

Pook is a member of the Eagle Clan and Killer Whale House and master bead artisan, who has been on the Sitka School Board since 2002. She said it was “an honor” to be elected president after fourteen years of service and is excited to get to work on the two goals for the year: 1) family engagement through a positive response rate on the School Climate and Connectedness Survey and 2) closing the achievement gap for all demographics. Pook is currently a counselor at SEARHC’s Raven’s Way, a substance abuse treatment program for Alaskan Youth.

“My strength is closing the gap. My strength is focusing on the low income and the students who might not get the support that they need,” Pook said.

The 2016 Sitka School Board includes appointee Dionne Brady Howard, a teacher at Mt. Edgecumbe High School. (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

The 2016 Sitka School Board includes appointee Dionne Brady Howard, a teacher at Mt. Edgecumbe High School. (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

Pook added that she has big shoes to fill, referencing earlier presidents like Lon Garrison, Mollie Kabler, and Scott McAdams. But, describing her leadership style, she says she wants to be kind the president that enlists the input of district staff and fellow board members. “When I feel like I can’t report well on something, I will call on one of the other board members. That’s something that Lon or Scott never did. They could cover everything on their own. I’m not going to act like I know everything. As long as I get support, I think we’ll do well,” Pook said.

The board also assigned liaisons to the district’s schools. Dr. Jennifer McNichol will be the liaison to Sitka High School, newly appointed member Dionne Brady Howard to Blatchley Middle School, Cass Pook to Pacific High School and homeschool students, Dr. Tom Conley to Baranof Elementary School, and Eric Van Cise to Keet Goshi Heen Elementary School.

In committee roles:

  • Policy Committee: Tom Conley
  • Wooch.Een for Student Success Committee: Dionne Brady Howard, with Tom Conley as an alternate
  • Student Activities Committee: Eric Van Cise, with Jennifer McNichol as an alternate
  • Strategic Planning Committee: Cass Pool
  • Technology Committee: Cass Pook
  • Educator Evaluation (EE) Committee: Dionne Brady Howard
  • Liaison to Sitka Assembly: Tom Conley
  • Liaison to Sitka Tribe of Alaska: Dionne Brady Howard