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Bristol Bay Borough to consider finalists from near and far for the next superintendent

The Bristol Bay Borough school opened for the first day of the 2022 year on Aug. 22, 2022.
Shannon Harvilla
Bristol Bay Borough School District
The Bristol Bay Borough school opened for the first day of the 2022 year on Aug. 22, 2022.

The Bristol Bay Borough School District’s longtime superintendent Bill Hill is leaving at the end of the school year. And the district is considering four finalists to step into that role.

One of the candidates is Helen Cheek, the Iditarod Area School District superintendent. Cheek has worked in administration for over 20 years. She has directed grants for the Career and Technical Education Center in the Yukon Flats School District. Cheek got her associate’s degree from the University of Maryland, a bachelor’s in Workforce Education and Curriculum Development from Southern Illinois University, a Master in Education from City University and a superintendent’s endorsement from the University of Alaska Southeast.

Another is Troy Poage, who started his career at the Aleutians East Borough School District before working as a teacher and athletic director in Kenai. He’s worked as the principal of the Lower Kuskokwim School District since 2020 and is obtaining his superintendent’s endorsement at the University of Alaska Southeast. He received a bachelor’s degree from Ft. Hays State University.

One familiar name among the finalists is Shannon Harvilla, the principal and assistant superintendent of the Bristol Bay Borough School District. Before joining the district 2019, Harvilla was a principal and teacher in the Southwest Region School District. He received a bachelor’s from West Virginia University and a master’s in educational leadership from Western Governors University. He got a superintendent endorsement from the University of Alaska Southeast in 2021.

The only out-of-state candidate is Jim Smith of Oregon. Smith actually retired as superintendent and principal from Oregon’s Fossil School District last year, but the district brought him back to serve as the elementary principal and work on special projects. He also worked as the principal and athletic director and as a teacher at other school districts. He has a bachelor’s from the University of Oregon and a master’s in teaching from Pacific University. Smith also has an administrative certification from Lewis and Clark University in Portland.

The district’s Board of Education will hold interviews in Naknek with each of the candidates on Feb. 16 - 17. The candidates will also tour the community, visit the school and attend a public community candidate forum on Feb. 16. The new superintendent will start around July 1.

Get in touch with the author at or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.