As former Superintendent Woody Wilson transitions to a new position in the Wrangell school system, Richard Rhodes moves in as Wrangell’s new Public Schools Superintendent. Rhodes is from Northern California and says after 28-years in the education field, he was ready for change of scenery and Wrangell seemed like the right fit for him and his family. With School only a few weeks away, Rhodes is already at work preparing for a busy first year and says he’s excited to be entering an already thriving school district.

“They’ve got an outstanding staff, they’ve got great kids, a great community that supports the schools, and their results show it and I think that’s the key. It’s kind of neat to go somewhere where everything is clicking and everything is working, and to be able bring some of my experiences and education to that is a lot of fun,” He says.

Rhodes started his career in the U.S. Navy, and eventually began work as a principal and superintendent in Redding, California, where he spent most of his life. He also has a Ph D from the University of Southern California in Education Leadership and Accountability. He says his background and education has prepared him for the new position and says he would like to continue seeing the school district move in the direction it’s presently going.

“The piece for me is really creating this vision of what’s next for Wrangell. Wrangell has done a good job of thinking outside the box and bringing in things within the community to sustain jobs, create new markets, and do things differently. In the schools we have to do the same thing. We’ve got to be frontward forward thinking about what’s coming around the corner in the five or ten years in education,” He says.

Recently Rhodes and Woody Wilson visited Juneau to discuss a number of programs and projects developing in Wrangell. Those include the virtual learning network as well as the Governors Scholarship program which aims to help students pay to attend college in Alaska. Rhodes says the key is to keep the next generations of students in Alaska and working. And says during his meetings in Juneau last week he was able to meet with Alaska’s Education Commissioner Mike Hanley and the commissioner gave positive feedback on the direction Wrangell’s schools are moving. However while things look bright for the school district, Rhodes says there are still some challenges he anticipates he will face.

“Well I think the big one in public education is going to be the budget. You look at the federal budget, you look at the state budget, you look at what’s going to happen with oil in the future, and we need to make sure that we as public educators, teachers, staff members, administrators, and parents that we value education in Alaska and we make sure that’s a resource that we sustain. At the same time us who work in that field we need to say were going to spend your money wisely and we are going to get the biggest bang for the buck,” He says.

School starts Wednesday,  August 24th and Rhodes says he’s excited to see the students back in the schools and kick off his first year in Wrangell.
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