Haines Borough School District Superintendent Ginger Jewell handed in her resignation today after one year in Haines.
Jewell says leaving Haines School District after one year was a difficult decision. But she says she’s just too far away from her family.
“I’ve got an elderly mother and five kids and ten grandkids,” she said. “It’s just the right thing to do for my family.”
Jewell has accepted a position as superintendent at a school district in Georgia, which is where some of her family lives. She says this decision happened within the last couple weeks, when some family things came to the surface.
For School Board President Anne Marie Palmieri, it was a surprise.
“I’m saddened and I’m disappointed,” Palmieri said. “I was really looking forward to continuing on working with Ginger.”
The school board had a special meeting today to make a decision on Jewell’s resignation. They approved her request to be released from her three-year contract with the district.
Palmieri says at a recent meeting where the board talked about Jewell’s evaluation, there wasn’t any indication she might leave.
“We talked a lot about the future and the next years, kind of a direction that we wanted to go in. So we were not aware that this was a possibility.”
Jewell says she took the job in Haines with the intention of working here until retirement. But her personal circumstances changed.
During Jewell’s one-year tenure with the district, she helped move forward an initiative to expand technology in the school. The initiative garnered criticism from some community members. Ultimately, the school board approved expanding laptops one-to-one in fifth grade and up.
Jewell says community scrutiny did not contribute to her decision to leave.
“That’s part and parcel of any school district, it doesn’t matter where you are,” she said. “There are initiatives that people want, there are initiatives that people are against, and that happens everywhere.”
Jewell says she is leaving without accomplishing everything she had hoped.
“I’m very disappointed to not see things through to fruition. That’s just hard. You want to see your babies grow up.”
But she’s proud of some of the strides she has made. Including changing the school calendar so that students are released early on Thursdays, giving teachers weekly time set aside for professional development.
Jewell also helped create a few new positions, including a technology specialist and science and math-focused elementary teacher.
Palmieri says the school board will start looking for an interim superintendent for next school year.
Jewell’s last day with the Haines district is June 30.