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School board says farewell to veteran staffers

by Merrie Leininger

The Douglas County School Board meeting Tuesday afternoon was full of end-of-the-year excitement, and a few goodbyes.

The board bid farewell to 12 retiring employees who had a combined 245 years with the district. Many of the retirees did not attend the meeting at Carson Valley Middle School, but those who did were recognized.

Kind words were said about special services director John Dorf, who is leaving the district after 21 years.

Personnel director John Soderman offered a touching goodbye.

“We wish you all the best. We hope you get as much out of retirement as we got out of your work for the district,” Soderman said. “I can’t think of a person in the district who supports kids more than John Dorf. He is truly someone we can all admire and look up to as a professional.”

He was given a pen set made of carved wood.

“Everyone in the district owes a tremendous amount of gratitude to John Dorf. He is respected within the state and across the nation. People look to him as the expert and guru in special education. There are many students who would not be where they are if it wasn’t for John,” said Superintendent Pendery Clark.

Dorf humbly thanked the group, but said the credit for the inclusive practices of the district goes to the teachers.

Mary Ann Miller, who is retiring from Carson Valley Middle School after 18 years, said she wanted to thank the district for providing professional development, something she never experienced in four other districts across the county she worked in.

“It’s outstanding. To me, it’s a real highlight,” she said.

Sue Worthen is leaving Jacks Valley Elementary School as a reading specialist after 21 years in the district. She said she is looking forward to retirement, but will miss the school.

“I really loved every day of it,” she said.

Irma Erb is leaving her position as registrar at Douglas High School after 19 years. Director of classified personnel Sandy King said she is the “gatekeeper of all who walk across that stage (at graduation),” and the school will definitely miss her skills.

Other retiring employees are Beth Clark, Gardnerville Elementary School, 25 years; William Clark, GES, 24 years; Thomas Covault, Kingsbury Middle School, 21 years; Jerry Falkenstein, CVMS, 30 years; Linda Furbee, Douglas High School, 14 years; Linda Krier, Scarselli Elementary School, 12 years; Mary Ann McNeill, CVMS, 18 years; and Dave Reil, multi-school art teacher, 20 years.

Each school’s teacher of the year and classified employee of the year were also recognized.

n New principals. Clark introduced the new principals chosen for all three DCSD middle schools. Two out of three aren’t exactly new, however. Clark said Robbin Pedrett, who has been interim vice principal at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School for a year, was chosen to replace Principal Charlie Condron. Condron is replacing Bev Jeans at Douglas High School next fall. Pedrett, Clark said, received a standing ovation when her appointment was announced at the school.

“I believe Robbin is the leadership that school needs,” Clark said.

Pedrett, who was previously a physical education teacher at PWLMS, said she is a little nervous.

“I’m afraid,” was the first thing she said after Clark introduced her. “Last year after I became vice principal, I kept looking for a manual. There is no manual. Charlie left large shoes to fill, but the staff has been more than supportive and I’m up for the job. I’m excited. I plan on camping out down there this summer.”

Rita Elliot was chosen as principal of Carson Valley Middle School after a year of being interim principal. Elliott, who has been with the district 16 years, had been a vice principal at Pau-Wa-Lu for five years, but before that called CVMS her home when she was a social studies teacher and a vice principal for three years. Elliot said she was very happy at CVMS.

“It has been a very busy, interesting and enjoyable year. I just enjoyed getting reacquainted with the school and I know it is a very quality school. I’ve got a lot more things I’d like to work with and do,” she said.

Nancy Rollston was introduced as the new principal of Kingsbury Middle School. The school has been led by interim Principal Patty Fore since Tom Covault became ill and had to retire. Fore is leaving the school district this year.

Rollston has lived in South Lake Tahoe and taught as a kindergarten teacher in South Lake Tahoe Unified District for three years. Previously, she was a principal for 10 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Clark said Rollston is has a doctorate, is bilingual, has strong interpersonal skills and leadership skills.

“I love being a principal,” Rollston said. “I’m looking forward to it. I think that school has tremendous potential. I felt immediately welcomed and warm when I visited, which is not something I can say about every school.”

Rollston said she thinks her time in the classroom these past few years will benefit her as a principal because it has reminded her of the everyday struggles of classroom teachers and the needs of the students.