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University of Alaska assistant professor selected as Unalaska’s new superintendent

Superintendent finalists address the crowd at a community forum on Feb. 18. Kimberly Hanisch pictured right. Jesse Janssen on left.
Carlos Tayag
Superintendent finalists address the crowd at a community forum on Feb. 17. Kimberly Hanisch pictured right. Jesse Janssen on left.

Unalaska’s school district will have a new superintendent in the upcoming school year.

School board members voted unanimously Feb. 18 to appoint Kimberly Hanisch to lead the district.

Hanisch teaches educational leadership as an assistant professor at the University of Alaska Southeast. Before that she worked as the director of instruction and curriculum for the Kodiak school district.

Hanisch earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Physical Education from Chadron State College in Nebraska and has a Master of Arts in Biology from Bemidji State University in Minnesota. She also holds a Type B Administrative Certificate from the University of Alaska Anchorage and a superintendent's endorsement from the University of Alaska Southeast.

Hanisch was one of three finalists that were invited to visit the island over the weekend. One of the candidates accepted a position for the Aleutians East Borough school district so Hanisch and just one other finalist competed for Unalaska’s superintendent position. The candidates toured the town and met with locals at a community forum Feb. 17. It had been more than 20 years since the district had held on-site interviews for the position.

But in recent years, keeping the superintendent position filled has been a struggle. This is the second time in just two years that the island’s school district has gone through the process of hiring a superintendent.

Following the abrupt resignation of former superintendent Robbie Swint Jr. — who had filled the job for just about one year — the district enlisted the help of the Association of Alaska School Boards to advertise and fill the open position.

Upon her appointment, Hanisch said she was excited to become a part of the community and lead the district.

“My brief time in Unalaska has filled me with the confidence that I am joining a welcoming and passionate team as the pride in UCSD and the hopes for the future were expressed by so many,” she said.

Hanisch is expected to begin July 1. Interim Superintendent Jim Wilson will fill the role until the end of the school year, when he plans to retire.

Hailing from Southwest Washington, Maggie moved to Unalaska in 2019. She's dabbled in independent print journalism in Oregon and completed her Master of Arts in English Studies at Western Washington University — where she also taught Rhetoric and Composition courses.
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  • The Unalaska school board has narrowed its superintendent search down to three finalists from a pool of eight total applicants.The three finalists include Kimberly Hanisch, an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Alaska Southeast. She has worked as the director of instruction and curriculum for the Kodiak Island Borough School District.Jesse Janssen is another finalist. He is the superintendent and career and technical education director for a school district in Kansas. He’s also worked as an assistant principal.The district is also considering Michael Franklin, an emergency medical technician. He’s worked as a principal and assistant principal for schools in Bend, Oregon.
  • In honor of the two girls and in an effort to create something productive from the tragedy, McDonald organized the scholarship fund Angels Over Ballyhoo.It’s been nearly four years since Alyssa McDonald lost her daughter Karly in a tragic car crash on Unalaska’s Mount Ballyhoo — a fatal incident that also took the life of teenager Kiara Renteria-Haist.
  • A collection of 50-year-old audio recordings from the Aleutians have been digitized and are now accessible online.The recordings were part of an Unalaska school project from the ‘70s. A group of students and their teacher recorded various Elders in hopes of documenting the language, culture and history of the Unangax̂ community and the Aleutian region.There’s about 60 reel-to-reel audio tapes that make up the collection. They include topics from day-to-day activities to historic events, fishing stories and recipes, to accounts from Makushin and the other lost villages that were forcibly evacuated during World War II.