Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Who does the new ASD superintendent remind you of?
As Alaskans, we pride ourselves on shopping local, but let’s be honest — we don’t always do it.
That¹s why I¹d like to congratulate the Anchorage School District for shopping local and hiring Dr. Deena Paramo as the next superintendent.
I’ve met Paramo many times. Not enough time to develop an understanding of her professional style, but I will say that she is one of those rare professionals for whom nobody seems to have a negative word.
But the main reason I’m happy with the hiring of Paramo is because of how much her background reminds me of one of ASD’s best school superintendents, Carol Comeau.
Like Comeau, Paramo came up through the ranks.
She spent three years as a teacher in Glennallen and seven years as a vice principal in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District (MSBSD). She also spent nine years as an administrator, the last six as the MSBSD superintendent.
Her resume is extensive. Her career is one of always learning and challenging herself to take on the under-appreciated, but vital role as a public educator.
In the interest of due diligence, the ASD spent nearly $40,000 on a nationwide search. The finalists were two long-time, and qualified, Alaskan educators.
Not that we should ever judge the process by a single example, but the hiring of Dr. Jim Browder in 2012, was an example of what many Anchorage employers and managers, including myself, have gone through when trying to fill important positions.
Before Browder had served even a year of his three-year contract, he was applying for jobs back in the Lower 48.
I don¹t know what the percentage is, but judging from my years hiring reporters and photographers, I would say that the number of new employees who stay in Alaska after three years is roughly about 50 percent or less.
We’re not for everybody and that makes it hard to find and keep the right people.
So, when we can find an Alaskan with deep roots in their community, a resume that speaks of achievement, and the enthusiasm to take on the job and stay with it for the long haul — then hiring Paramo is a no-brainer.
And she shares one other trait with Comeau — an openness that doesn’t stand on titles or formality. Superintendent Carol Comeau was always simply “Carol” to her staff and community. Let’s hope that Paramo is with us long enough to get to know her on a first-name basis, as well.
John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.
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