Eagle River principal leaving for job in district office

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 08:53
  • Eagle River High principal Marty Lang, right, takes a selfie with homecoming queen Geena Graff, left, and Todd Burningham — father of homecoming king, Grant Burningham — during halftime of the Eagle River vs. Kenai Central homecoming football game on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 at Eagle River High. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

One Eagle River institution is leaving another.

Eagle River High principal Marty Lang — who has worked at the school since it opened — is leaving to take a job as deputy director of secondary education for the Anchorage School District.

“I am excited, although it is with a certain amount of bittersweet,” Lang said Monday. “I have really loved living here, being a part of this school and this community.”

Lang learned he’d been tentatively named to the position last Wednesday after meeting with ASD superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop. Pending school board approval, he’ll begin his new job July 1 and will report to Dr. Kersten Johnson, ASD’s senior director of secondary education.

An English teacher who began his career on Yosemite Drive as the chair of the school’s English department in 2005, Lang took over as principal before the 2011-12 school year. He said he likes to tease original ERHS principal Natalie Burnett that he’s the school’s longest-tenured principal.

“I get to claim that title for at least eight years,” he said.

Johnson said she thinks Lang will be a “terrific” addition to the staff at the district’s central office.

“He has a lot to offer other principals in terms of his experience and what he’s seen and done,” she said.

Lang will fill one of four director positions beneath Johnson. He’ll replace Derek Hagler, who Johnson said wanted to get back to teaching.

The move will be a reunion of sorts, as Johnson and Lang previously worked together at ERHS.

“We actually opened Eagle River High School together,” said Johnson, who was an assistant principal at ERHS from 2005-08.

Lang has been a teacher in ASD for 19 years, with stints at East, Dimond, Chugiak and Eagle River. In his new role, he’ll work to supervise the district’s high school and middle school administrators.

Though he’s excited about the promotion, Lang said it’ll be difficult to leave the day-to-day school environment behind. During his tenure at Eagle River, Lang has crafted a reputation as a personable, hands-on principal who frequently posts “selfies” with students to his Twitter account.

“I love the energy of teenagers, I’ve always really enjoyed working with them,” he said. “I tell people the best part of my job is I get to work with adolescents and the most challenging part is I work with adolescents.”

Lang said he’s proud of the work he’s done at Eagle River, a school with a unique student body where roughly 45 percent of students come from military families based at nearby Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

“I think one of the things I’m really proud of is we have built a school that really serves the unique needs of our student population,” he said.

Lang said he’s worked hard to find ways to integrate military students — who often change schools frequently — into the school community.

“Just being able to give them a sense of community while they’re here and being an open and inviting place for new students is something I think we’ve done from Day 1,” he said.

The search for a new principal is ongoing, and will include community involvement. Lang said a site advisory committee made up of teachers, staff and administrators will meet in the near future. Lang said parents will also be sent a survey in the next few days to gauge the community’s priorities when it comes to naming a new leader.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call (907) 257-4274

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