Monte Thacker, from Wichita Falls, TX, has been in education since 2001, with the past 8 years spent in administration.
The sole candidate for Principal of Dillingham Middle-High School is visiting this week to meet with the school board and community members and to get a feel for the place.
Monte Thacker’s accent doesn’t lie; this educator of 16 years hails from the high plains of Wichita Falls, Texas.
Thacker taught at the elementary level starting in 2001 before making the switch to the principal’s office about eight years ago. He’s worked in both small and very large schools in Texas, but he says living in Alaska has been on his bucket list for many years.
He finally moved with his wife and son to the Anchorage area two years ago. After subbing for a while, Thacker became principal of a new correspondence charter school called P.A.I.D.E.I.A. Due to budget constraints, that program may not have a full-time principal next year, which is why Thacker is job-searching now.
He says both he and his wife are excited about moving to Dillingham, and if selected as principal, building strong relationships with students and teachers will be a high priority.
"I mean, face it: children -- or anyone -- don't really care what you know, until they know that you care," said Thacker. "People can work together better when they know there's genuine interest, versus somebody just coming in and doing a job. So I think that's the best thing you can do to foster that culture and relationship-building."
Thacker is also ready to jump into the local sports action. He used to coach power-lifting in Texas and says he’s already looking forward to Dillingham basketball season.
"The community may have to forgive me, I get a little loud and vocal because I'm cheering so hard for the kids," said Thacker. "I will be the students biggest supporter. I'm excited to get back to that -- the school I've been at is a correspondence school so it didn’t have the athletics, and I have missed it tremendously."
After eight years in the Marine Corps, Thacker went to college at Midwestern State University, where he later earned his Master's in Education with a principal's certification. He also has his superintendent's certification and aims to eventually finish a doctorate in education.
"I enjoy learning, and I hope the last thing I learn is right before I close my eyes and they put me in the box!" said Thacker. "I want to broaden my horizons... and I hope I can model that behavior to students, and show them how broad their world can become if they open their mind to education."
Monte Thacker met with the school board and community members in a reception Monday night. He is the only candidate being seriously considered for the principal position.