Top school job hopefuls down to five |

Top school job hopefuls down to five

by Sharlene Irete

The number of candidates for school superintendent was halved by Douglas County School Board trustees Friday night.

Board members agreed with consultants Huge, Hager and Associates, the firm hired to conduct the superintendent search, on four candidates and added a fifth themselves in the Douglas High School Media Center.

The firm recommended Debra Ann Bradley, Rod Kessler, Carol Jean Lark and Allen Steen. Board members added Mark Coleman.

Consultant Jim Huge presented a list of 10 people qualified to fill John Soderman’s post when he retires June 2006.

“I’m pleased with a very strong pool,” Huge said. “It’s a credit to the school district.”

Bradley is a consultant for the California Department of Education in Los Angeles.

She started teaching in 1971 and has been a teacher, counselor, dean, principal and superintendent of schools for the Lompoc and Fontana Unified School Districts. As superintendent in Fontana, Calif., Bradley supervised a staff of 4,800 and handled a $286 million budget.

Bradley earned her educational doctorate in educational policy from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Bradley has been a frequent visitor to Carson Valley and has noticed the growth in the community.

“To have the opportunity to provide leadership in the Douglas County School District is indeed exciting,” Bradley said.

Coleman has been principal at Silverado High School in Las Vegas since 2000. Although he is the only candidate with no experience as a superintendent, he has been principal at elementary, middle and high school levels.

Coleman started his teaching career as a special education teacher in 1979 and earned a master’s degree in special education from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has lived in Nevada for 26 years.

“I grew up in a community in southern Michigan, very much like Douglas County,” said Coleman, “except I didn’t have Lake Tahoe.”

Lark has been the assistant superintendent of the Southeast Region of Clark County School District since 2004.

Lark has been a Nevada resident since 1989. She learned Spanish as a result of the Peace Corps tour of duty in Ecuador she did after high school.

While principal of C.P. Squires Elementary School in Las Vegas, the at-risk Hispanic school became one of only two nationally distinguished Title 1 schools in the country.

Lark has a master’s degree in student personnel from Denver University and was recognized by Gov. Kenny Guinn in his 2005 State of the State speech for her work as principal at Squires Elementary.

Lark’s son and family live in Reno and she hopes to live and work where she will be closer to them.

Lark describes her work in the fifth-largest public school system in the nation as “putting out fires.”

“My goal is to get back to a smaller district where I can again be an instructional leader,” said Lark.

Kessler is a resident of Buffalo, Wyo. and is superintendent of the Johnson County School District No. 1. He is a candidate for a doctorate in education in administration from the University of Wyoming in Laramie which he expects to complete spring 2006.

Kessler was chosen as Wyoming’s 2005 superintendent of the year.

Kessler has been in the teaching profession for 27 years – six in the classroom, four as a counselor, four in administration, three as an associate superintendent and 10 years as superintendent of schools.

“I am ready for a new challenge and Douglas County may be a good match,” said Kessler.

Steen has been superintendent of Hinton Community School District in Hinton, Iowa, for six years.

Steen has experience as a principal and teaching in both middle and high school levels.

In Steen’s research of Douglas County, he found that the district is committed to student achievement, community involvement and is held in high regard by school professionals.

“These characteristics, the school size, the community and the location are key factors in my consideration to apply for this position,” said Steen.

Huge praised the Douglas County School Board members for their work on the search.

“You’ve been a model example of homework and discussion in a professional manner in an open setting,” Huge told the board. “You got to the point. I commend you.”

Interviews for the five candidates will be conducted Jan. 17-20.