After nearly 60 combined years with Douglas County School District, Ellen Lucas and Ellen Rosenberg are saying goodbye.
Both came to the district in 1985; Lucas brought five years’ experience as a P.E. teacher in California, and Rosenberg previously worked as a kindergarten assistant, Title I Aide and manager of the primary grade program at Dayton Elementary School.
Lucas moved to Nevada in 1984, a year after meeting her husband, Lyle, at a P.E. teachers’ conference in Hawaii. The following year, she was the first elementary P.E. teacher hired in the Douglas County School District, and split her time between Zepyhr Cove, Jacks Valley, Meneley and Gardnerville Elementary Schools. Another P.E. teacher was hired after Scarselli Elementary opened in 1987; two more P.E. teachers were brought on after Piñon Hills and Minden elementary opened in 1996. Lucas has taught at all the elementary schools in the District at one time or another, most recently at Meneley and Piñon Hills.
Lucas’ path to teaching began during her studies at UC Berkley. Her initial interest was medicine, but a fellow soccer teammate’s involvement in the physical education program drew her in that direction. She graduated with a major in P.E. and pursued a P.E. credential the following year, which enabled her to teach physical education to students in K-12.
Above and beyond her teaching career, Lucas’ love of physical activity has spilled over into other areas of her life. Her husband was a cross country and track coach at Douglas High School and she often accompanied him to meets. Their shared experience morphed into 13 years as a cross country and track coach at Douglas High School for her. “I started as a volunteer coach,” she recalled with a laugh. Lucas offers jump rope clinics to the community and recently launched an archery class through Douglas County Parks and Recreation; the first session filled up so quickly that she decided to open up an additional class, which also met capacity.
In 2005, Lucas was voted Teacher of the Year at Meneley Elementary. She earned a National Board Certification in 2006, which recognizes her as a master teacher in her field.
Following retirement, Lucas plans to spend island time with her husband at their home in Hawaii. During the colder months, she looks forward to getting back to snow skiing following a knee injury earlier this year. She’s also plans to spend time with her sons (Mike and Kevin), their families, and her 85-year-old mother, who lives in the Bay Area.
There’s a good chance that while in the Bay Area, Lucas will run in to Ellen Rosenberg. Rosenberg’s parents live a mere 20 miles away from Lucas’ mother.
Rosenberg anticipates many trips “over the hill” to visit her parents after her retirement. Her mother’s work as an elementary school teacher is what initially inspired Rosenberg to pursue teaching for herself.
Her career began in 1978 in South Carolina where she worked as a kindergarten assistant. In 1980, she moved to Nevada and began a B.S program in education at the University of Nevada, Reno. Throughout her studies, she worked as a Title I aide at Dayton Elementary and was given responsibility for running the primary program there. Rosenberg did her student teaching at Jacks Valley Elementary under the tutelage of Judy Chatfield and Lynn Eagan and completed her studies in spring 1985. She was hired that fall by the Douglas County School District, the same week as Ellen Lucas.
For the past 28 years, Rosenberg has taught primary-age schoolchildren at Meneley Elementary. She has worked for every principal that the school has had since it opened.
She recalls the two years she spent teaching kindergarten off-site with fondness. “This was prior to Scarselli Elementary opening,” she explained. “Meneley was over capacity so we worked out of the basement in the District Office. They bused us back to the school one day a week for specials (P.E., art, etc.), and I remember the beautiful view looking out from the windows there. Dr. Betts (then-Superintendent) and Mr. Mross (then-director of personnel) dropped in on my class a few times a week. It was great.”
Rosenberg has seen plenty of changes in classroom instruction over the years, most specifically in technology. She loves the new Promethean boards, which enable teachers to display assignments and lessons in an accessible, easy-to-view way. Student interaction with this contemporary technology lends excitement to the classroom atmosphere.
Throughout her tenure at Meneley¸ Rosenberg was active in site-based committees and district level task forces. She co-authored Meneley’s application to be designated as a Blue Ribbon School and wrote successful grants to the Douglas County Education Foundation.
In 1999, she was one of 15 teachers awarded “Teacher of the Year – Best of Education,” presented by the Reno Gazette Journal. This prestigious award was based upon interviews with parents, principals and peers; there were 1,100 nominees.
In addition to spending more time with her parents, Rosenberg’s post-retirement plans include visits with her children (daughter Melody and son Sean), traveling back east for family weddings, snow skiing (“During the week!” she said with a smile), and writing. Neither Ellen plans to hang up her teaching hat permanently; both will volunteer their time in the name of education. Lucas has led a jump rope demo team for the past 16 years and will continue her work with the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart. Rosenberg will donate time at Meneley in the areas of reading and literacy and also plans to work as a substitute teacher.
“I’ve loved my time with the kids,” said Lucas.
Rosenberg concurred. “I’ve been given so much,” she said, “and it’s time to give back. Life comes full circle.”
Friends and family of Ellen Lucas have planned a potluck party for Ellen Lucas at the Minden Park Gazebo 3-6 p.m. Monday. Lucas’ family, friends, coworkers, past and present students are invited to attend.
Along with a lawn chair and something to drink, attendees are asked to bring a dish to share that starts with the same letter of their first name (for example: Nancy brings noodles, Cathy brings cupcakes).
Minden Park is located at 1596 Esmeralda Avenue in Minden.