KPC/Brockel Family Scholarships
Clayton Brockel received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Montana State University at Missoula and a Master of Arts from Colorado State College. He first came to the Territory of Alaska in 1954 to teach school in Klawock. After leaving Klawock, he taught at Ft. Greely High School, in Ft. Greely, Alaska. While at Ft. Greely, he first became involved in adult education as an instructor in the Alaska On-Base Schools system of military education. He also organized and coached Ft. Greely High School’s first basketball team.
After Ft. Greely, Mr. Brockel took a teaching job in California, but his case of “Alaska Fever” caused him to return. In 1962 he took on the job of teaching English at Kenai High School. It was a new school system in a brand new state. The nearby Air Force Station, Wildwood, had an active adult education program. A few months later, he was organizing and expanding that program from an on-base military operation to a community-wide program open to military and civilians alike. The director of adult education was a part-time, evening job at first. However, in 1964, it became a half-time job, just as the Kenai City Schools were absorbed by the new Borough School District. Two years later, in 1966, the Board of Education approved the director as a full-time position. Mr. Brockel was ready to expand the college’s offerings and effectiveness.
Most of the time, Mr. Brockel was on the road, going from school to school, community to community, talking to chambers of commerce, Elks Clubs, fishermen in restaurants and employers of all sorts. Around the Homer Boat Harbor, Mr. Brockel was a familiar sight. “It was plumb comical to see what happened when Brock hit the harbor,” recalls Jim McDowell. “There were always five or six fishermen standing on the floats, jawing about something. They’d scatter when they saw Brockel coming. Scared he’d form them up into a Diesel Mechanics Class or talk them into teaching a net mending workshop!”
By 1966, the college program included some 200 students and offered 16 classes in Kenai, Seward and Homer. In January 1976, the University of Alaska Fairbanks announced that founding director Clayton Brockel had decided to retire on June 30, 1976. Clayton expressed his appreciation to the “… hundreds of people who care about the college, from the dedicated professional and classified staff members who served so well over the years, to the men and women from all walks of life who spend so much time on advisory committees, helping the college grow. I wish I could list them all and thank them by name […] but we don’t have adequate records. We were too young to be thinking about history. We were too busy trying to make things work, trying to keep the college above water.”
Brockel’s wife, Jean, graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 1973 with a master’s in elementary education. Their son, John, passed away in 2008 and is memorialized by the John C. Brockel Memorial Endowed Scholarship.