BOARD MEMBER PROFILE: Mark Somerville
How did you come to be in Alaska?
I moved to Alaska in 1984 for a 6-month seasonal position with Prince William Sound Aquaculture and never left.
How long have you lived in your community?
I first experienced the Copper Basin in the mid-1980’s, bought property here in 1997. My family started spending winters here so my kids could attend school in 1999 and we settled here permanently in 2005.
What’s your career background and current job?
I am currently the Area Management Biologist for the Upper Copper Upper Susitna Management Area for ADF&G Sport Fish Division. I spent my first 20 years in Alaska working for Prince William Sound Aquaculture and managed three of their remote hatcheries in Prince William Sound. It was there I met my wife and raise our three kids through their early years. I have an MS degree in Biology with a fisheries emphasis from the State University of NY in Fredonia and BS in Wildlife and Forest Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Syracuse University.
Describe a teacher or school staff member who had an influence on you.
My German teacher in HS had the greatest impact on me in school for her caring, sternness, and her love of teaching and working with students in the class and out of class.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I’m a Deadhead.
Why did you run for the school board?
I felt the need to be involved in the educational process. I started on the Kenny Lake ASB and learned that strong leadership is needed at the board level if we were to achieve the goal of preparing kids for the future.
What special strengths do you bring to the board?
I have a strong background in management, budgets, and personnel. I also have a good grasp of education and feel strongly about being involved and putting my “money” where my mouth is.
What goals do you hope to achieve during your term?
Change the very culture of the District to embrace a blended learning approach to personalized learning that incorporates the entire community.
How have you helped to improve education in your district?
Pushing through a new strategic plan. Taking the time to attend important educational conferences and learning as much as I can on how to move this district into the future.
What’s the hardest thing about being a board member?
Learning that our vision may not be embraced by staff. That old habits die hard and I am terrified of how some teachers are just there collecting paychecks. However, we have hired some of the most exciting teaches I have ever seen and I am extremely hopeful for the future of our kids.
What’s the best thing about being a board member?
Seeing the growth of our students and seeing increased engagement by our students in their education and future and the involvement of the parents, community, and local businesses.
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