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New administrators take over at CVMS

by Merrie Leininger

For two veterans of Douglas County School District, this upcoming school year will be ripe with new opportunities and challenges.

Rita Elliott, who has been with the district for 16 years, and John Carlson, who has been a teacher and administrator at Douglas High School for 15 years, will be taking over as principal and vice principal at Carson Valley Middle School.

Elliott has been a vice principal at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School for the past five years, but before that she called CVMS her home. She taught social studies for two years, was program manager for two years and vice principal for three years.

“This will be a coming home for me. I came over here as an administrator for (the middle schools’ joint) summer school and thought it would be nice to be back and then it just worked out,” she said.

Elliott said she decided to apply for the principal position. She thought she would at least have a lot of experience to draw from, from teaching in Nevada, Arizona, Montana, Nebraska and Virginia before coming back to Nevada.

“And I love a challenge,” Elliott said. “The support from the district staff and the board was wonderful. It is nice to be wanted.”

Elliott said one of her biggest challenges will be getting organized (three days into her first week on the job and she has no desk) and getting to know the teachers, students and everyone’s needs.

“It will be a challenge getting to know what the staff and students need to succeed at teaching and learning,” she said.

Elliott said she can hardly wait for the students and teachers to return and has even arraigned to meet the student leadership team this week, before students return Aug. 30.

“I’ve been here three days and a school without students is empty. I’m very anxious for them to start back,” she said.

Elliott said she is going to wait to discuss issues with the teachers, students and parents before setting goals beyond implementing the competencies and improving student performance.

“My style of administration is team leadership. School improvement starts with teams of people who work here. My basic goal is student achievement. I’m working for these students to make sure they have the best opportunities to learn,” she said.

Vice principal. John Carlson, who was vice principal at Douglas High School for six years and a science teacher there for nine, made the move to CVMS because he was “looking for a change that would involve different experiences,” he said.

Carlson applied for the principal position, then asked for a transfer to the vice principal position when Elliott was given the job. The school is still short one vice principal, who will probably be hired this week.

Carlson, who is married to Kelly, a counselor, and has two children, Jace, 5, and Evan, 3, said he is happy he will be working with younger students. His duties will be attendance and discipline of the 9th graders and half of the 8th grade class, he said. He also will be supervising science and math programs and coordinating the 9th grade sports program and student activities.

As part of that, he has already been planning for the kick-off school dance for Sept. 17.

Turning his thoughts to academics, Carlson said he hopes to be a part of an ever-improving school.

“One of the goals is we want to create a program that prepares students with a good foundation and good preparation for them moving into high school,”he said.

Carlson, like Elliott, will have to familiarize himself with most of the staff in the first few weeks.

“I know about 29 percent of the staff members. So I want to make sure I know where our strengths are so we can continue the building process and improving,” he said. “I’m really excited. It will be a challenge. There are a lot of outstanding teachers here. The opportunity for growth is here. We will be spending a lot of time identifying those areas of need and improving upon them.”