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ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop’s last day is approaching

Bishop’s tenure in Anchorage coincided with some extreme challenges, including an earthquake that struck in the fall of 2018.
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 5:42 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage School Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop will retire on June 30, after six years of leading the state’s largest school district.

Bishop penned a letter to the community on May 13.

“I have enjoyed an amazing career spanning over three decades in Alaska, doing what I do because of my passion and belief that education matters,” Bishop wrote.

Bishop’s tenure in Anchorage coincided with some extreme challenges, including an earthquake that shook up Southcentral Alaska in the fall of 2018.

“We set up our command center and every child went home safe that night,” Bishop said in an interview.

The damage caused two schools to close for over two years, but Bishop led the charge to relocate students quickly so that learning could continue.

“What we did was utilize all staff — all hands on deck — so that everyone could get back and we were only out a week,” Bishop said.

The COVID-19 pandemic was another challenge not of Bishop’s making, and, she said, one of her biggest regrets.

“I don’t think there’s a person that doesn’t — I call it armchair quarterback — what happened and the decisions, but certainly I can say that I have probably been the most critical of myself, “Bishop said.

Schools were closed in the spring of 2020 during a statewide emergency declaration during the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Bishop said she believed schools could reopen safely the following fall, but students stayed online.

“We used the best information at the time,” Bishop said. “And so I’m second-guessing myself because I was like what more could I have done? Because I know that academically kids suffered.”

Already low reading scores dropped during the pandemic. Bishop said previously that raising literacy rates is critical, and urged the district to continue to focus on reading skills at the elementary level.

Bishop said she was proud that graduation rates increased during her tenure.

“2019 was the highest year ever in ASD, and since then we have had the second two highest years.”

Bishop said while her job at ASD was coming to a close, she couldn’t rule out working with young people again.

“I have a little bit more gas in me but, I am definitely going to choose something that is not 24/7 that’s always on,” Bishop said. " But young people inspire me and I’m sure that there’s going to be something down the line.”

Bishop’s successor Jharrett Bryantt has already arrived in Anchorage. Bishop said she’s working with him to make a smooth transition.

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