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U-Hi leader’s true calling

Canceled project led onetime engineer to education

University High School’s incoming principal didn’t plan to spend his professional life in school.

When he was in junior high, Alan Robbins, 47, dreamed of being an electrical engineer, which is what he became after graduating from Montana State University in Bozeman.

He ended up at Tektronix in Beaverton, Ore.

“I loved my job,” he said. But when a project was canceled, he had the opportunity to work with students, which prompted his change in career.

He went back to MSU and earned his teaching certificate in math and physics.

“Working with the kids,” he said, “that’s just the best.” He said he loves the moment when the light comes into a student’s eyes when learning about something. He said he knew that as a teacher, he had an impact on his students’ lives.

Robbins has been in education for 18 years. He taught for 11 years at Manhattan High School in Montana, just outside of Bozeman. He also earned his master’s in education leadership from MSU, the degree that allows him to be a school principal.

Robbins said he and his wife sat down in January to plan out their next 10 years. They talked about their goals and careers and he decided to start looking for jobs outside Columbia Falls, where has been a high school principal since 2007.

The first job he saw and applied for was at University High School in the Central Valley School District. He said he was looking for a school in a larger area with colleges and universities nearby so he could continue his education. He wanted a district that was the same size or larger than the Columbia Falls, and a high-performing district, one that is noted for its student achievement.

“I was impressed with (CVSD’s) very clear direction,” he said.

Now that he’s going to a new school, he’s setting up a plan for its transition.

“I want to spend time to get to know the staff,” he said. “I want to spend a lot of time listening.”

He wants to learn about the school’s strengths and work with the leadership team at the school.

Robbins and his wife, Jackie, have three sons. Bryant, 25, lives in Mississippi and is married with two children. Austin, 21, is a junior at MSU studying science education with a math minor. His youngest, Joshua, is studying civil engineering at MSU.

In his free time, Robbins likes to fish, hunt and spend time outdoors.

He is looking forward to being involved in the Titan community. He said he received a very warm welcome from the staff. Ideally, he’d like to live close to U-Hi.

Robbins replaces Daryl Hart on July 1. Hart will be working at the district office until he retires at the end of 2012.

“My wife and I are really excited about this opportunity,” Robbins said.