Dzantiki Heeni Middle School principal Molly Yerkes was named Region 5 Principal of the Year by the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals for 2020. (Courtesy photo | Molly Yerkes)

Dzantiki Heeni Middle School principal Molly Yerkes was named Region 5 Principal of the Year by the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals for 2020. (Courtesy photo | Molly Yerkes)

Look who was named region’s principal of the year

She’s been at the middle school for 16 years now.

A Juneau middle school principal was named principal of the year for this region by a professional organization.

Molly Yerkes, 10-year principal of Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School, was named Region 5 Principal of the Year for 2020 by the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals on Friday.

“I’m incredibly flattered,” Yerkes said in a phone interview. “There’s a vote of all the principals in the region. I knew I was one of the finalists.”

Yerkes will be recognized at the 54th Alaska Principals’ Conference in October, but right now, colleagues and Juneau School District staff recognize her for her accomplishments.

“We are excited for one of our principals to be honored in our region,” said JSD Superintendent Bridget Weiss in an email “Molly is a highly experienced principal, and we are grateful for her work this spring to support students and staff in new and different ways.”

Yerkes spent six years as assistant principal at DHMS before moving up and spending the last decade as principal.

State announces 27 new COVID cases, largest single-day increase

“Ms. Yerkes is in classrooms much more than she is ever in her office,” said Kristy Germain, former DHMS assistant principal and interim principal for Floyd Dryden Middle School, in the press release. “She knows students’ needs because she has observed the students in the classroom, hallways, and lunchroom and has gotten to know them at more than a superficial level.”

Yerkes credits the recognition to her team at DHMS.

“I work with an incredible staff at Dzantik’i Heeni. It’s a dynamite crew,” Yerkes said. “Honestly. It’s such an amazing place to work and be, I love it.”

They’re currently navigating the uncertain waters of teaching in a time of enforced distancing and shuttered schoolyards.

“We’re really just trying to navigate the current situation. It’s hard to plan but we’re making sure we have solid plans if we’re back in the building,” Yerkes said. “Our teachers did a really excellent job. For some families it was an easier transition than others but the teachers did an amazing job of calling and reaching out. It was difficult for us to know how much work to give students but they tried to get a lot of feedback from families. We didn’t want to create unreasonable expectations but wanted to continue the students’ education. It was about striking a balance.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter hovers over Sitka Sound during routine hoist training. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Lt. Cmdr Wryan Webb)
Yakutat-bound charter flight missing from Juneau

Flight departed from Juneau on Saturday with three people aboard, according to U.S. Coast Guard.

President Biden at the White House on July 3. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
President Joe Biden drops out of race, scrambling the campaign for the White House

Withdraws under pressure from fellow Democrats; endorses Vice President Kamala Harris to take on Trump.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, July 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Buttons on display at a campaign event Monday, July 8, 2024, in Juneau, urge supporters to vote against Ballot Measure 2, the repeal of Alaska’s current election system. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Ranked-choice repeal measure awaits signature count after Alaska judge’s ruling

Signatures must be recounted after judge disqualifies almost 3,000 names, citing state law violations.

The offices of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development in Juneau are seen on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska demographers predict population drop, a switch from prior forecasts

For decades, state officials have forecast major population rises, but those haven’t come to pass.

Neil Steininger, former director of the state Office of Management and Budget, testifies before the House Finance Committee at the Alaska State Capitol in January of 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neil Steininger, former budget director for Gov. Dunleavy, seeking District 1 Juneau Assembly seat

Downtown resident unopposed so far for open seat; deadline to file for local races is Monday.

A mother bear and a cub try to get into a trash can on a downtown street on July 2, 2024. Two male bears were euthanized in a different part of downtown Juneau on Wednesday because they were acting aggressively near garbage cans, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Two black bears in downtown Juneau euthanized due to aggressive behavior around people

Exposed garbage, people insistent on approaching bears contribute to situation, official says

Most Read