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New school administrators have lots of experience

by Merrie Leininger

Whether they are new to the district or have worked there for years, the Douglas County School District’s new administrators have plans for their schools.

Howard Bennett was a vice principal for three years at Carson Valley Middle School before he returned as principal to Whittell High School, where he taught for 24 years.

Christina Perdomo left E.W. Fritsch Elementary School in the Carson City School District, where she had taught for 25 years, for a position as vice principal at C.C. Meneley Elementary School.

n Principal. Bennett said it feels good to back at the school where he taught social studies and physics for so long. He said he is constantly reminded of his days in Whittell’s classrooms.

“I’m walking around and seeing things I bought on my budget and things like my rock collection, so in some ways I never left,” Bennett said. “I taught the only physics class for 24 years, so every student who took physics for 24 years, I had as a student, and that’s something I’m very proud of.”

Bennett said he will be moving from Reno to Tahoe soon, also, now that his daughter, Angela, is married and left the University of Nevada-Reno for Hawaii – the main reason this single dad lived in Reno.

Bennett said that move would not be emotionally difficult, but he will miss CVMS.

“I’m a different person from when I started there. It was an excellent learning experience for me. I learned to love the school,” he said.

Bennett said he knows Whittell is also different and he will have to work hard to prove himself.

“I will have to do a lot of building credibility. The last kids I taught graduated this year, so the kids don’t know me and will be saying, ‘Who is this person and does he follow through with what he says?’ and they’re going to be watching me,” Bennett said.

n Full circle. Bennett earned his master’s degree in school administration in 1977, but continued to teach because “the timing wasn’t right.”

When the vice principal position opened at CVMS, he decided to leave Whittell, but now at the beginning of his 28th year in education, Bennett decided to come home.

“I’m really honored, a little humbled, and slightly frightened I’m at the helm of the ship. Truly, I will always be a teacher at heart, but I am just choosing wear the hat of a principal,” he said.

His goals for the future of Whittell are high.

“The school historically has been considered almost a private school because it is so small, and I want it to be known as one of the finest small high schools in the western United States. All the pieces are here, we just have to put them together,” he said of the school of 260 students. “I want the students to have school pride and to know that high standards of excellence are expected, that they will have to reach for the stars.”

This summer is taken up will filling three teaching positions, and hiring a counselor and a secretary in time for the Aug. 30 start date.

It is very important to him to find the best people for the jobs, he said, because the staff has to be a team in order to reach the goals Bennett has laid out for the school.

“They have to have a passion for teaching. It’s really a calling, not everyone’s a good teacher, but if you’re there for the kids, they know and magic happens,” he said.

n Vice principal. Christina Perdomo started her new job at C.C. Meneley on June 14, a week after ending the year as a elementary teacher in Carson City.

Starting school in a new district after 25 years in Carson City was the most difficult part, she said.

“I’m not at all acquainted with the district and I’m just learning new things everyday,” Perdomo said. “I enjoy meeting new people and trying to learn names. I am learning different aspects of education, because my focus has always been on instruction. Every day is a new adventure.”

Last week was a trial by fire for the new vice principal, who had to step into Principal Brian Fraizer’s shoes as he took a vacation.

“I can’t believe the number of decisions that come through the door. I just have to rely on my best judgment. It’s been a real good experience for me,” she said.

Perdomo, who has a master’s degree in special education, is still working on her administrator’s degree. She taught special education for 15 years, and the last couple of years taught combined classes with special education students, gifted students and regular students. She experienced her first taste of administrative work while in charge of the mainstream programs for three years.

She said she decided to look for an administrative position after going through an administrative intern program in Carson City.

“I have a friend who has taught here for 21 years and I’ve always been impressed with the district because it’s really progressive. That’s why I decided to try to find a position here,” she said.

Perdomo will continue to live in Carson City where her husband, Fred, is dean of students at Carson City High School, her daughter, Katherine, is a freshman thereSon, Rich is a sophomore at UNR.

She said the focus on academic excellence and positive attitude at C.C. Meneley has impressed her.

“Everything is positive and upbeat and I am like that, too. I feel real comfortable here, it’s nice to come into a workplace like this,” she said.