Blossom Teal-Olsen chairs her final school board meeting on June 20, 2023. (KCAW/Woolsey)

Sitka School Board president Blossom Teal-Olsen has stepped down.

Teal-Olsen announced her resignation at the board’s regular meeting on June 20, to become effective the following day.

Teal-Olsen’s term was set to expire this October, but she told the small audience in the district office board room that she knew there were serious trade-offs in continuing her service on the board – that energy she’d have to spend preparing for meetings and responding to email, would be energy that she wouldn’t have for her son, who is a rising senior, and her two younger daughters.

“It’s been a growing experience to step into this position,” said Teal-Olsen. “I definitely will take away a lot of knowledge, and ultimately, I choose my family.”

Teal-Olsen was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the Sitka School Board in June of 2020. She subsequently won election that October to a full three-year term. She was voted president to succeed Andrew Hames, when he accepted a teaching position in the district at the beginning of the last school year.

Teal-Olsen has lived in Sitka for almost three decades, but is always quick to remind people that she’s from Kotzebue, and raised in Fairbanks. The land acknowledgment that the school board offers at the beginning of every meeting was introduced during her term, and she became emotional reading it this one last time.

In her farewell remarks at the end of the meeting, Teal-Olsen reminded everyone of her own background, and urged tolerance for students who do not always conform to expectations.

 “As an educator, if you may have a student who has a hard time focusing, or turning in their homework, or being compatible with your line of thought, have hope,” she said, “because someday you may find them on the other side of the school board (table). And I hope that you do.”

The Sitka School District is taking letters of interest from anyone who’d like to serve out the vacancy created by Teal-Olsen’s departure. Letters may be submitted to the district office through July 13. The board will interview candidates in a special meeting on July 19 and appoint one to the seat. The successful candidate will serve until the municipal election this October.