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Governor Names Alaskans to Council on Education for Military Children


May 11, 2010, Juneau, Alaska — Governor Sean Parnell today announced his appointments to the Council on Education for Military Children, charged with helping the children of military families overcome the educational challenges of their parents’ deployments.

“The burden of national defense doesn’t fall only on adults in uniform,” Governor Parnell said. “The children of deployed parents face the extra burden of adapting to new schools, different rules, altered schedules and shifting graduation requirements – while also worrying about parents who may be in harm’s way. This council plays an important role in helping these children overcome such obstacles and get every chance to succeed in school.”

Alaska is one of 25 member states to have joined the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children since it was established in 2006 with support from the Council of State Governments. The compact seeks to establish standard policies on graduation requirements, school start ages, immunizations, special education placement and other related issues.

Governor Parnell’s appointees to the Council on Education for Military Children are: Lieutenant Commander Bradford Apitz, Makayla Bell, Jena Biena, Carol Comeau, Representative Carl Gatto, Marcy Herman, Senator Charlie Huggins, Education Commissioner Larry LeDoux, Jim Merriner, Brad Quarnberg, and Major Grant Sullivan.

Apitz, of Kodiak, has been an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard since 1998, and is currently a pilot and administrative officer. He has been a police officer in New Hampshire, and has been the Coast Guard’s representative on the Kodiak Island Borough School Board since January. Apitz holds s bachelor’s degree in marine transportation from the MassachusettsMaritimeAcademy, and a master’s degree in global leadership from the University of San Diego. He was appointed to a seat representing stakeholders.

Bell, of EagleRiver, is a junior at ChugiakHigh School, where she is an honor student participating in numerous extracurricular activities. Her father, Colonel Greg Bell, is a field artillery battalion commander for the U.S. Army at FortRichardson who has experienced six military career moves, or “permanent changes of station,” which have required his daughter to attend six different schools in 10 years. She was appointed to a student representative seat.

Biena, of Anchorage, is a civilian school liaison officer for the Airman and Family Services Flight at Elmendorf Air Force Base. She has an associate’s degree in social services, a bachelor’s degree in sociology, and a master’s degree in organizational management. She was named Civilian of the Quarter for the 3rd Mission Support Squadron in 2009, and the flight won Civilian Flight of the Quarter in 2007. She was appointed to a seat representing stakeholders.

Comeau, of Anchorage, has been superintendent of the AnchorageSchool District since 2000, and also spent seven years as assistant superintendent and 11 years as an elementary teacher in the district, the state’s largest. She has served on an Anti-Gang and Youth Violence Policy Team, and as a director of the Juvenile Justice Working Group, the Boys and Girls Clubs, the Anchorage Economic Development Council, and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in public school administration, and an honorary doctorate. She was appointed to a seat for superintendent of a school district with a high concentration of military children.

Gatto, of Palmer, has represented the Palmer area in the Alaska House of Representatives since 2002, and currently chairs the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. He helped develop military jet engines as civilian liaison between the U.S. Air Force and General Electric, and has also worked as a paramedic and firefighter, high school science teacher and irrigation engineer. Gatto earned bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering, physical science, and biology, and a master’s degree in biology. He was appointed to a seat representing stakeholders.

Herman, of Juneau, has been a special assistant and legislative liaison for the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development since 2008. She has previously worked in Juneau as general manager of a construction company, and for public radio and television stations. She was appointed to a seat reserved for a military family education liaison.

Huggins, of Wasilla, has represented the Matanuska-Susitna Borough region in the Alaska Senate since 2004. He served 25 years as a U.S. Army officer, retiring as a colonel with extensive experience in aviation operations. He has also served as state director of veterans affairs and worked as a hunting guide in Alaska. Huggins earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and a master’s degree in personnel management. He was appointed to a seat representing the Alaska Legislature.

LeDoux, of Juneau, has been commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development since 2008. He was previously superintendent of the Kodiak IslandBoroughSchool District, where he also held numerous administrative posts. He also served as an elementary school principal, and principal and teacher at KodiakHigh School. LeDoux earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in science and biology education, and an education specialist degree in administration with an emphasis in Alaska Native studies. As an ex-officio member of the compact, he will serve as the Alaska council’s executive delegate to the interstate commission.

Merriner, of Anchorage, is Anchorage site manager of the Interior Distance Education of Alaska (IDEA) statewide correspondence school operated by Galena City Schools. He has previously worked as a teacher and administrator in public, private and home schools in Alaska, and has been chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, a consultant, and a Bristol Bay commercial fisherman. He is a member of the Board of Education and Early Development. Merriner holds a bachelor’s degree in European history and a master’s degree in educational leadership. He was appointed to a seat representing the Board of Education and Early Development.

Quarnberg, of North Pole, has been director of the Airman and FamilyReadinessCenter at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks since 2005. He also represents the commander of the 354th Fighter Wing on the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District Policy Review Committee. Quarnberg holds an associate’s degree in industrial security and criminal justice, and a bachelor’s degree in occupational education. He was named the Pacific Air Force’s Outstanding Senior Airman and Family Readiness Individual in 2008 and 2009. He was appointed to a seat representing a military installation.

Sullivan, of Anchorage, has since 2009 been director of manpower and personnel for the Alaskan Command and Joint Task Force-Alaska. He was human resources manager for the Army’s Special Operations Command in South Korea from 2006-09, and previously held human resources management positions for the Army in Iraq and Georgia. He is the military representative on the Board of Education and Early Development, serves on the board of a volunteer organization that remodels homes of wounded veterans, and volunteers with his unit at Bean’s Café. Sullivan earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from NorthernArizonaUniversity in 1993. He was appointed to a seat representing the Board of Education and Early Development.
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