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New Stuyahok’s Robin Jones is leaving for the Mat-Su after nearly a decade as principal

Robin Jones in 2019 in New Stuyahok with Chief Ivan Blunka School’s Class of 2031
Courtesy of Robin Jones
Robin Jones 2019 in New Stuyahok with Chief Ivan Blunka School’s Class of 2031

New Stuyahok’s longtime principal, Robin Jones, is leaving the region at the end of the school year. She has accepted an elementary school principal position in Wasilla.

In her 9 years as principal of Chief Ivan Blunka School, Jones said that she worked hard to advocate for students in rural Alaska. In particular, she’s passionate about reducing high teacher turnover rates by ensuring new teachers connect to their communities.

“When you have these teachers staying year after year, you end up with a team of educators who care so deeply about the students,” said Jones. “They know the students, and they know their strengths and weaknesses, and they can just really help them be successful. That's the team of educators that I feel like I have raised in rural Alaska.”

Jones’ commitment to fostering a consistent team of educators in New Stuyahok also stands out to Steve Noonkesser, superintendent of Southwest Region Schools District.

“Her work to decrease staff turnover has resulted in an amazing stability in her staff and retention rates over the past nine years nearly unheard of in rural Alaska,” Noonkesser said of Jones. “Her staff believe in a shared vision and stay year after year to be a part of the environment she has fostered.”

Jones has lived in Bristol Bay since 2009, when she became a school counselor for SWRSD in Togiak. Two years later, she moved to New Stuyahok. The Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals twice named her regional Principal of the Year. Then in 2021, AASSP recognized her as Alaska Principal of the Year.

“It came during this pandemic, where it’s been just such a challenging and unprecedented time in education. To be recognized in that way during a time like this has really made it very meaningful,” said Jones. “Even in rural Alaska, where you have these very wide equity and opportunity gaps, we're still doing everything that we can and using all of our resources to provide the best possible educational experience for our students.

Jones says that she looks forward to working with elementary school students at her new school in Wasilla, but she will miss “nearly everything about living in rural Alaska,” from spending time on the tundra near New Stuyahok to her community in the village.

“You'll always have a champion in me,” Jones said, speaking directly to students at Chief Ivan Blunka School. “I’ll continue to advocate for you…As I've spent a third of my life out there, it has been my greatest privilege to call New Stuyahok home and to have developed relationships with so many incredible people.”

Allen “Napa Jay” Coupchiak and Robin Jones in Togiak, 2009
courtesy of Robin Jones
Allen “Napa Jay” Coupchiak and Robin Jones in Togiak, 2009