New Douglas High principal looks back on first semester
After longtime Principal Marty Swisher, transferred to ASPIRE Academy at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, Douglas High School had some big shoes to fill.
With a semester behind him, Joe Girdner said he is adjusting well and is honored to be in the position.
“Swisher did a great job and left Douglas in great shape,” Girdner said. “He’s been very supportive and helpful in my transition.”
Girdner was hired as vice principal at Douglas in 2014. Prior to that, he worked from 2004-2014 at Carson High School. When he left Carson he was serving as vice principal.
He is also a 1992 Douglas graduate, which gives his role a special perspective, Girdner said.
“Having the connection from my schooling experience here and the opportunity to come back and see what it is today, makes it a more interesting experience,”he said.
Girdner said the last few months have been a great learning curve and he is looking forward to improving the school’s credentials and reputation.
“Douglas is a very successful school, but we’re looking at how to make it better,” Girdner said. “We’re looking at our strengths and weaknesses and creating new areas of growth.”
Girdner said the school is looking for ways to better prepare students for life after high school while maintaining the school’s traditions and reputation in the community.
“We live in a great community with great families and kids,” said Girdner. “We want to keep that community involvement and support.”
Girdner said new classes have been added including career and technical, business and marketing, computer science and a medical intervention program that offers internship opportunities for students.
“The classes give students an inside look and experience in future careers,” he said. “ We want to give kids the opportunity to be successful in their career and lives.”
Among the changes at Douglas, Girdner explained, students entering their junior or senior year will have an opportunity to receive dual credit through the Western Nevada College Jump Start program. The Jump Start College’s dual-credit academic program, now in its third year, allows Northern Nevada high school students to earn up to an associates degree when they graduate from high school.
“We’ve expanded the program so juniors and seniors are eligible and will be taking 30 credits a year, 15 credits each semester,” he said. “Juniors who start in the program this year will be able to graduate with a high school diploma next year, and an A.A. degree, so that’s pretty exciting and a great opportunity.”
Aside from the improvements being done at the high school, Girdner is pleased that some things will never change.
“As a former student, there’s certain things that I remember looking forward to and it’s really interesting to see that those traditions are still here, like the morning announcements and pledge,” he said. “It’s just exciting to be back, I’m honored to be here and to take on this role. I’m looking forward to being here a long time.”