In his first visit to a Carson City school since being appointed state superintendent in August, Dale Erquiaga asked first-graders at Mark Twain Elementary School on Thursday if they knew what his job was.
Andrew Harris raised his hand.
“You’re in charge of all the teachers in the whole world,” he said.
Erquiaga explained that while his purview did not extend to the entire world, he does oversee the 710 public schools in Nevada.
“My job is scary, but not that scary,” he said. As the chief of schools, he said, he wanted the state’s children to know the importance of reading. To do that, Erquiaga will be joined by Gov. Brian Sandoval and members of the governor’s cabinet in visiting 150 Nevada schools this year and reading to students in celebration of the state’s sesquicentennial.
“Literacy is the foundation for all learning,” Erquiaga said. “One’s ability to effectively read, write, speak and listen ultimately becomes the primary factor for determining one’s overall success in life — no matter what profession one chooses.”
His visit Thursday — Nevada Day — was his first stop on the “Nevada Reads: Celebrating Literacy in 150 Schools” tour in recognition of the 150th anniversary of Nevada’s admission to the Union.
He read “The Gullywasher,” by Nevada author Joyce Rossi, a bilingual story about a young girl and her abuelito.
“Nevada has a lot of its own literary talent,” Erquiaga said. “We’re going to use these books.”
Mckenzie Merrell, 7, appreciated the visit.
“It was really good,” she said. “I like when new people read stories.”
Erquiaga explained that while his grandparents spoke both Spanish and Basque, he never learned their native tongue. He asked the children to help him pronounce some of the words in the book.
“I liked the story about the girl and the grandpa,” said Elayna Quintero, 6. “It was sweet.”
In addition to promoting literacy, Erquiaga said, the visits will promote schools and the state.
“It’s a great way for the Department of Education to express its pride,” he said. “We’re very proud of our state.”