As school let out for the summer at Redoubt Elementary, the traditional faculty led wave to departing buses was also a departing wave for Principal John Pothast, fondly called “JP” by teachers and parents alike at Redoubt. After moving as principal at Skyview high school to elementary, JP was not only a respected figure but one that endeared himself to Redoubt students who loved to see him dressed in an array of costumes for special events throughout the year from Dr. Seuss’s birthday to Thanksgiving canned food round-ups to benefit the Food Bank and teach youth the joy of giving. “My leaving is bittersweet. This is an awesome school to be at and making school fun is a big part of what we do because learning should be fun and that’s an intrical part of what we do with our kids every day. Life’s too short to not have fun,” Pothast told the Dispatch on the last day of school in May. Asked if he could carry the same type of fun into his new position with the district he replied, “Absolutely! The reality is when you look at the pressures going on in education they’re really K-12 issues and very few things are separated as only elementary or only middle or high school, the standards and assessments coming down all that stuff is K-12 issues so I see a lot of transference up to the high schools with what we’re doing in our entire district. It looks different because in the elementary schools you have a self-contained classroom and students have one teacher for the most part and by the time they hit middle school it starts to get divided out among seven or eight teachers but the reality is they’re still an individual student with individual needs and that’s part of what we need to do as educators is look at what are those needs,” said Pothast.
In August Pothast takes up his new post as director of secondary education for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD), “I’m heading over to the district office. I was a high school English teacher for ten years and then I was the principle at Skyview for six, so my roots are in the high school, but the biggest thing with curriculum that I see coming at us is the standards, what we are doing in education needs to be standards focused so when we take a look at what we’re teaching kids, we start with the standards and we grow from there. And that’s kind of new for a lot of years I think we focused on starting with a text book and teaching what is in the text book, but now while that’s a good starting point the standards really drive a lot of what we do,” he said. JP was also the daily Safety Patrol guy when school went out directing pick up traffic and students to their buses regardless of the weather.
“My successor will be Bill Withrop he’s the new principal here at Redoubt and was the former P.E. teacher here for years and years and he will do an awesome job and has safety patrol capabilities and filled in for me often. Not sure if he’ll be known as BW or not but we’ll see,” said JP.