UA Journey

McLane Building Dedication

The Enid Stryker McLane Building in Kenai recognizes a longtime educator who taught the first art classes for the college. This is reprinted from "The Kenai Peninsula College History: The First Thirty Years." By Lance W. Petersen

The Enid Stryker McLane Building at Kenai Peninsula College

Why was the college's first building named for her? "First of all, because Enid McLane symbolized the educational inspiration and dedication to which the college aspired," said Founding Director Clayton Brockel. "And secondly, Enid McLane lived the intensely independent pioneer life which still characterizes the values Alaskans embrace. She was a model for us all."

Enid Stryker was born in Redmond, Wash., on November 23, 1896. She graduated from Bellingham Normal School (now the Western Washington State College of Education) and came to the Territory of Alaska to teach at Ninilchik in 1920.

She married Archie P. McLane in 1922; they were among the first homesteaders in Kasilof in 1923. She taught at Kasilof from 1932 to 1938; at Kenai from 1942 to 1945. She returned to teaching at Kasilof in 1949 and continued there until her retirement in 1961. Later, she taught the first art courses at the college.

Enid McLane started the Kasilof Library and the Kasilof Museum and helped to write a book which was once mandatory reading for every teacher who got a rural teaching position for the Alaska Territorial School System: "Tips for Teachers in the Bush."

There were few teachers who knew more about the subject. The Kenai Peninsula didn't have an adequate landing field for aircraft until World War II and wasn't connected to the rest of Alaska by highway until 1952. By then, Enid had been teaching on the Kenai Peninsula for 30 years!

In the ice-free summer months, cannery boats and skiffs and Cap Lathrop's tugboat landed at coast communities; in the winter, mail came by dogsled from Seward. Most of the time, it was a long, long walk from one community to another.

Enid recalled hiking miles to school to teach, and having to get there early enough to split the kindling and start a fire in the barrel stove so the schoolroom would be warm by the time the students arrived. "Sometimes I think all these fancy theories about teaching just boil down to one thing: keep the fire burning."

That's a good enough reason to name the college's first building the Enid S. McLane Building. That's what the college was trying to do, too.

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