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By Dan Rudy 

Schools hire new secondary principal


Submitted Photo

Kendall Benson

The Wrangell School Board elected to offer Kendall Benson the position as the new secondary schools principal during its May 19 meeting. He will replace outgoing principal Colter Barnes who served one year in the position. Barnes will be headed to Southeast Island School District to serve as an itinerant principal and greenhouse manager.

Benson begins August 1 and brings with him three decades of education experience. His most recent post was as principal of Cedar Middle School in Cedar City, Utah, which he finished last month.

One of four candidates for the opening, Benson was unanimously recommended by a committee of faculty, school administration and community members to fill the position.

In a biographical letter addressed to Wrangell, Benson credits his interest in coming to Southeast Alaska to a family trip he took 11 years ago. Along with their two now-grown children, he and his wife, Kay, have since returned on annual visits, and the couple looks forward to the upcoming move.

Benson was born in rural Utah to a family of educators and raised with a deep commitment to education and life in the outdoors. Graduating from Cedar High School in Cedar City in 1979, he received his bachelors in biology at Southern Utah University, where he also met his future wife.

He began teaching in Page, Arizona, eventually finding a position with the school district in his hometown. Benson taught science for 18 years, and, after earning his master's degree in 1999, he transitioned to school administration as assistant principal in 2002.

Within several years he was elevated to the middle school's principal, and under his direction the school became one of nine in the state of Utah to be chosen for the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform "Schools to Watch."

In 2012, Benson was named the Utah Middle Level Administrator of the Year. He attributes his success to a collaborative culture, and, in his letter, Benson said he takes pride in being able to help teachers work collectively on a holistic approach to education.

"Philosophically, my approach to education as a classroom teacher and then as an administrator has always been a holistic approach to education," he writes. "I know from experience that not only the teacher, but the custodian, the school lunch workers, the aides and the bus driver can and do have a tremendous impact on the education of a child. It truly does take a whole village to raise a child."


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