Dr. Steve Atwater Named 2013 Alaska Superintendent of the Year


A surprise announcement took place during the KPBSD school board meeting in Homer, Alaska on Monday, September 10, 2012. Mr. Bruce Johnson, executive director of the Alaska Association of School Administrators (AASA) flew in to attend the meeting, and proclaim that Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD) Superintendent, Dr. Steve Atwater, was selected by his peers as Alaska’s 2013 Superintendent of the Year.  

The Superintendent of the Year program, now in its twenty-sixth year, pays tribute to a school system’s top leader who exemplifies effectiveness, knowledge, leadership, ethics, and commitment. In nominating Dr. Atwater, colleagues and board members noted his success at leading both small and large school districts. They lauded his leadership expertise by comments such as “If you take a close look at each and every one of Dr. Atwater’s decisions or actions, you will find an unerring focus on the improvement of education and direction that favors kids.” Another nominator commented that “Dr. Atwater exemplifies the true essence of what an educational leader should be … and believes that every child can learn and that every child deserves to be taught by an outstanding teacher.” 


When he learned about the award, Dr. Atwater said, “I am both humbled and honored by this award. Humbled because I was nominated by my peers from across the state and honored because it affirms my good work and by association the good work that all of us at KPBSD are doing to meet the learning needs of our 8,900 students.” 

Individual school board members offered immediate accolades, and President Joe Arness wrote, “It is with tremendous pride and pleasure that we recognize the selection of our Superintendent, Steve Atwater, as the Alaska Superintendent of the Year as selected by the AASA. Since being named the Superintendent for our District, Steve has demonstrated himself to be exemplary in all facets of school district operations and community outreach, and therefore we sincerely endorse and applaud this honor. It is a wonderful thing when people are recognized when they perform above and beyond their job description, and Dr. Atwater certainly has done so...and for that we applaud his efforts.” 


Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre said, "Kenai Peninsula residents take pride in our outstanding school district and recognize the combined contributions of School Board members, administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and students as a part of our success. Most importantly, we recognize the leadership provided by our superintendent, Dr. Steve Atwater, as a key part of that success. Dr. Atwater's vision, commitment, values, knowledge, and competence are reflected in the extraordinary job he does and the educational achievements of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. We're extremely fortunate to have Dr. Atwater as our Superintendent and congratulate him on his well-deserved recognition as 2013 Alaska Superintendent of the Year.” 


“Dr. Atwater has been a great supporter of Kenai Peninsula College (KPC) and ensuring Peninsula students are college or career-ready when they graduate,” said Gary J. Turner, KPC director. “He is not only involved with our children from pre-K to 12th grade, but he is also teaching teachers at the university level where he serves as an adjunct faculty member with UAA’s College of Education. While Steve will say this is a district award, his leadership and vision have earned him this well-deserved accolade,” said Turner. 

Peter Micciche, Soldotna city mayor and incoming Alaska state senator said, “We’re fortunate to have Dr. Atwater leading the charge here with a great team of instructors who have the right focus and expectations for student performance. Congratulations!” 


Liz Downing, vice-president of the KPBSD school board said, “Dr. Atwater has a calm, deliberate leadership style that is building our educational system to be one of the best anywhere. He is increasing the capacity of his staff and creating opportunities for teachers to explore new strategies so that every student reaches their potential. We are fortunate to have such a hardworking, bright, and caring individual at our helm.” 

“Dr. Atwater continually impresses me with his common sense approach to individual parent and student issues while simultaneously targeting the complexities of providing the very best education possible throughout our borough,” said Lynn Hohl, school board treasurer. 


Dr. Atwater came to Alaska in 1981, and after returning to school to gain a teaching certificate began teaching in 1990. He worked in the Lower Yukon School District and then moved to the Lake and Peninsula School District where he served as a teacher for 5 years before working his way to the superintendent position where he led a quality schools initiative that dramatically improved student achievement. Now in his fourth year as the KPBSD superintendent, Dr. Atwater continues to focus his leadership on improving student achievement by guiding responsive instructional practices and student engagement through effective learning practices. KPBSD’s students’ consistent high test scores are evidence of this focus. Dr. Atwater will quickly tell you that his goal for KPBSD is that it becomes a highly reliable organization by giving appropriate attention to the variables that limit student performance. This strategic direction is reinforced by Dr. Atwater’s annual report message to the public where he outlines that “We must do all that we can to ensure that a student’s ethnicity, disability, language proficiency or economic status does not predict his or her academic performance.” 


Continuing to be highly active on various local and statewide boards having served as president of the AASA with current involvement as an Alaska Professional Teaching Practices commissioner, Dr. Atwater is a member of the Alaska Statewide Policy Research Alliance and is a part of the prestigious Network for Innovative Education that is sponsored by the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning. Atwater also teaches courses for UAA’s Education Leadership Department. 

AASA will advance Dr. Atwater’s candidacy to the 2013 National Superintendent of the Year program knowing that he is highly respected by his colleagues, board members, and constituents throughout Alaska. All State Superintendents of the Year will be recognized in February at the 2013 AASA National Conference on Education in Los Angeles, California. 



 20120912_HL_Atwater_Sup_2013_9   20120912_HL_Atwater_Sup_2013_10