Dr. Karen Gaborik

Dr. Karen Gaborik 

The Salcha native who attended public schools here, became a teacher and then rose up the ranks at the school district to the top job, superintendent, is retiring next year.

Karen Gaborik announced plans to leave the $165,000-a-year job as of June 30, 2021, in a letter to the Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Education, writing that she is ready for a new chapter.

“When I reflect on the body of work that has resulted from a career of service to students, families and staff, I am grateful for the incredible opportunities that have graced my path,” she wrote. “The time has come, however, to shift focus, re-order priorities, and create space for expansion. I look forward to discovering my next map and beginning a new journey.”

Gaborik made the announcement early to allow the school board time to conduct a comprehensive search for her replacement, she wrote.

“I am fully committed to my work and to this district for the remainder of my contract, and look forward to participating in the transition to new leadership,” she said.

When the 51-year-old became the superintendent six years ago, the school district was in crisis.

Gaborik was the assistant superintendent of secondary schools — following a stint as principal at Lathrop High School — and was named acting superintendent after her predecessor was fired in the fallout of a high school tutor who was arrested and charged with sexual abuse of a student.

Gaborik instituted personnel reforms and policies putting more emphasis on student safety.

She also led an effort to shift the classroom experience to personalized learning, which involves more digital content, project-based learning, small groups, student-driven reflections and students choosing their own pace.

Gaborik has earned numerous awards including Alaska Superintendent of the Year, Alaska Principal of the Year and the Personalized Learning Pioneer Award. She is a past president of the Alaska Superintendents Association. She attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks where she studied public speaking and was selected to be the 1991 student speaker at commencement.

Gaborik is a graduate of Ben Eielson Junior/Senior High School where she later taught.

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.