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Interim superintendent begins work at Dillingham City School District

Avery Lill/ KDLG

Glen Szymoniak comes to Dillingham from the North Slope Borough School District, where he was superintendent for two years.

A new superintendent sits in the Dillingham City School District office. Glen Szymoniak has been hired as the interim superintendent for the upcoming school year to replace outgoing superintendent Danny Frazier. Monday was his first day on the job.

Szymoniak comes to Dillingham from the North Slope, where he was superintendent for two years. That was hardly his first rodeo in a small Alaskan school district. He began his education career as a teacher on Nunivak Island. Then he spent about 25 years as a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Szymoniak’s experience in small districts was key in the school board’s decision to offer him the position last month.

For his part, the new superintendent has long wanted to be a school administrator in Dillingham, where he has spent time hunting and fishing in previous years. The size of the community and the location appeal to him. He is an avid outdoorsman who ran a charter fishing business on the Kenai Peninsula for 17 years.

The role he is stepping into is an interim role. He will fill it for the coming school year. Meanwhile, the school board will continue its search for a permanent superintendent with the help of the Association of Alaska School Boards. Szymoniak says he will take on this role with an eye toward the future.  

“I see my role as no different than if I were the regular superintendent. I’ve been doing this for quite a while. I’m pretty comfortable knowing what I’m doing, but every place is different, and I have to get familiar with it. I’m coming in to do the job the way I would normally do if I were going to be here forever, and hopefully I will be able to be here longer,” says Szymoniak.

In terms of direction, Szymoniak wants to develop relationships with the community, teachers and other administrators before he identifies changes he would make.

“It sounds like things are going fairly well here,” Szymoniak notes. “I have no burning desire to change any direction. My role will be to come in and learn how things are already working because for one reason or another how things are working were established over a period of time. I’m pretty good at making changes, but the changes usually revolve around what people want to see in their schools.”

The school district has a few things on its radar as it gets ready to open its doors to students in the fall. A special education position and a band instructor position need to be filled. Building maintenance is underway. For his part, the new superintendent says his immediate task is to make sure administration and staff have a smooth transition from summer to fall.

“The big job for me is getting ready for the principals to come back, having everything ready for them so that when they hit the ground they have to get ready for the teachers. When the teachers get here, they need to get ready for the kids. There’s kind of a natural sequence that happens,” says Szymoniak.

Before school begins Szymoniak is also hoping to schedule times to meet with school employees and with the Dillingham community to introduce himself and answer questions.