Longtime teacher and Haines School principal Rene Martin submitted her letter of resignation from the school district this week. At Tuesday’s board meeting, the school board accepted her resignation, effective June 8, and outlined the process for a new principal search.

Martin moved to Haines in 1992 and began teaching at the school 13 years ago, when this year’s graduating class were kindergarteners.

“It’s bittersweet,” Martin said of her decision. “It’s a little scary. It’s exciting. It’ll be tough to leave. Haines has been my home since 1992.”

She said for the past six months she’s been considering pursuing a graduate program, advocating for mental health programs in schools, moving back to Michigan to be with her parents or working in Bureau of Indian Affairs schools in the American Southwest. Her husband’s death in 2017 caused her to reconsider her goals as an educator.

Rick Martin, Rene’s husband, worked as a maintenance man at the school. His death brought to the surface allegations from former male students including Martin of sexual abuse at the hands of former superintendent, principal and teacher Karl Ward.

“With Rick’s death, does that change my purpose? Is there something that I’m not seeing that my skillset could help me with,” Rene Martin said. “I really thought I’d retire out of Haines. It’s just really difficult to live here without Rick. You see him in everything, in all our projects and everything we have going on.”

Martin will find out by the end of the month whether or not she’s been accepted to graduate school. Martin worked as the manager of the Bamboo Room for 10 years before pursuing a degree in education. She later became the high school English teacher, and a teacher at Klukwan School for one year. She’s been principal for the past five years.

Martin said she’s confident she’s leaving the school with a stable, competent staff. “Roy Getchell is the right man to be here. Kim Sundberg has done a great job as dean,” Martin said. “Our school’s in a really good spot.”

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, members thanked Martin for her service to the school.

“Thank you, Rene, not only for your many years of work but also seeing this big picture and needs of the school and even while stepping out, making it relatively easy for us,” Michael Wald said. “Thank you for letting us know in a really timely way. That is appreciated.”

Superintendent Getchell said the district would post the principal position for three weeks beginning Feb. 7. On Feb. 10 a public survey will be accessible to residents on the district website. The district plans to create student, school staff and community groups to take comments about what each wants in a principal. Getchell said they hope to interview candidates in early March and have a recommendation for hire by April 7.

Applications will be available for public review.

The district has hired a local for the job dating back to the early 1970s.

“The principalship is a big deal,” Getchell said. “It’s the everyday face of the school district at the front door.”