New Lake school principals selected

The next principals for Whittell High School and Zephyr Cove Elementary were selected Wednesday and will be ushered in during a time of site consolidation and increasing education demands.

Sue Shannon, a superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District, was tapped as the next Whittell principal while Nancy Cauley was picked to head Zephyr Cove Elementary.

Cauley has worked as the vice principal for Fremont and Seeliger elementary schools in Carson City since 2003.

Both were selected out of a candidate pool of more than 20 applicants, said Rich Alexander, assistant superintendent for human resources, at Wednesday's Douglas County School Board meeting in Stateline.

Shannon and Cauley were hailed for their leadership skills and experience in education. Carol Lark, incoming superintendent of Douglas County, was impressed with Shannon's credentials.

"I was just amazed," Lark said. "For a district this size to be able to attract someone of her expertise is very exciting."

Shannon will come into a school that has seen its share of rotating principals and controversy. From an unfounded staff sick-out to suspensions of two seniors for having prescription ibuprofen at last year's prom, Whittell has made headlines.

But the small school is also known for its academic and athletic process, devoted staff and involved parents. It has added Advanced Placement classes to its curriculum and churned out many college-minded students.

Janie Gray announced in November she was going to retire after three years as Whittell principal to move back to Texas and spend time with family.

"I think that she could be the needed change for Whittell as long as she has support from the district and community," said parent Roberta Stillwell.

Stillwell was part of the small group that traveled to Southern California for a site visit. Fourteen people, including Shannon, were interviewed. Stillwell concentrated her questions on relationship with community and parents, advocacy for students, response to contentious environments and other areas.

"Sue is apparently known for her high expectations, modeling those expectations herself, supporting her staff, empowering others and being active in her community," Stillwell wrote in a site visitation report form.

"I believe she could be the needed difference in the difficult climate at (Whittell)," Stillwell added.

Cauley returns to Douglas County, where he was a speech and language pathologist and served an administrative intern.

At the end of Wednesday's vote, Superintendent John Soderman welcomed Cauley back to the district. Cauley, in turn, said: "It's just a joy to be back."

Zephyr Cove Principal Chris Perdomo said after 32 years in education, with 25 as a teacher, the time was right to retire. She called her time at the school as "frosting on the cake."

Perdomo helped institute several programs at the high-achieving school, including a parent volunteer handbook, monthly parent chats over coffee and mandating all students be involved in a science fair.

Perdomo displayed confidence in her replacement.

"She's capable, she's energetic, enthusiastic, she's strong and she's going to continue the great work that's been going on here so I'm happy to pass the baton to her," Perdomo said.


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