Mendenhall River Commuity School Principal Kathryn Milliron is surrounded by students as she walks the school's hallway on Friday. Milliron is retiring in June.

Mendenhall River Commuity School Principal Kathryn Milliron is surrounded by students as she walks the school's hallway on Friday. Milliron is retiring in June.

5 questions with retiring Juneau principal

Kathryn Milliron has been an educator for 26 years, but on May 27, she will call this year her last.

She is set to retire from the Juneau School District where she presently works as the principal of Mendenhall River Community School. She stepped into the position in 2012, but had interviewed for it previously a decade ago. She has been a site-level administrator for JSD for 20 years, having been a vice principal/athletic director of Juneau-Douglas High School and was on the administrative team to open Thunder Mountain High School. Prior to Juneau, she worked in Houston as a drama and English teacher. Her plan is to return to Texas for her retirement. Milliron will bid her final farewell to Mendenhall River Community School at a gathering at Auke Rec on Friday, May 27.

The Empire caught up with Milliron to ask about her years dedicated to education and experience as a principal.

 

What made you interested in education?

I was passionate about the arts and wanted to share that passion and decided to teach while continuing my interests in music, dance and theater. Then the door to administration opened here in Juneau and I walked through it. The rest is history. I am looking forward to the beginning of my second childhood and returning to some of my passions, which have morphed with age: gardening, nature admiration, mosaic creations and animal rescue/care.

 

What advice would you give to anyone interested in pursuing a career in education?

It is a great career for anyone who likes children and wants to continue learning and make a difference in their community. I would advise them to read everyday about the changes in education that make a difference in the classroom. Educators need to remain flexible, be positive, be respectful and seek to solve problems as opposed to admiring them. We often spend too much time talking about problems instead of focusing on solutions, so the problem becomes a time bandit in the day-to-day work.

 

What’s the hardest thing about being a principal and the most rewarding?

The hardest thing about being a principal is remembering to take care of your own needs. When you are a public servant, there is a need to give everything you’ve got and it is difficult to take and find time for self-care. The most rewarding is recognizing peoples’ strengths and supporting their development. We all grow when we are focused on others.

 

Have you found any misconceptions people have of principals in your experience?

I once heard a man on a flight to Anchorage say that an elementary principal’s job is a cakewalk. Just because we smile, laugh, play and stay positive all day long doesn’t mean that behind all that isn’t an overworked mind and body that has just juggled 30 plus things in the last half hour. We make it look easy, like the athlete who has trained for competition. It is far from easy and takes a back pocket full of skills to achieve all that is need to make it work for kids!

 

Who was your favorite teacher growing up and why?

My favorite teacher was my Bible and speech teacher, Sue Patton at Bowie Junior High in Odessa, Texas (That is when ‘Bible’ could be offered as an elective). She was kind to everyone and knew what was important: the children.

Know of a community member who has made a notable accomplishment? Contact neighbors@juneauempire.com to share.

• Contact Clara Miller at 523-2243 or at clara.miller@juneauempire.com.

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