Having gone through two long days in the interview process of their search for a new superintendent, Churchill County School District trustees are now moving on to the final step. It’s going to be the hardest one, too, the school board’s president acknowledged.
“Our work has just begun,” Ron Evans said after five hours-plus of interviews Wednesday night. “We’ve got to analyze everything and then do what we can to make the best decision possible for the kids and for our school district.”
Three candidates — Sandra Sheldon, Jose Delfin and Edna LaMarca — faced questions from the public Tuesday night during a three-hour town hall meeting held before about three dozen people in “The Pit” at the Old High School. They returned Wednesday for their question-and-answer sessions in front of the seven trustees.
Now that the questions have all been asked, trustees will take some time to ponder a decision that could have come as early as their regularly scheduled meeting Thursday night. Interim Superintendent Bus Scharmann advised, however, no rush to decide was expected, adding he is prepared to offer a recommendation next week at the school board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on April 4.
The announcement of a hire is due in mid-April and the new superintendent is scheduled to be on the job July 1.
Two of the three have Nevada ties: LaMarca, a 1970 Churchill County High School graduate who has previous experience as an educator in Mineral and Washoe counties, and Delfin has been associate superintendent of Human Resources for the Carson City School District since 2008.
“I began my education in Fallon, I have a lot of good friends here,” LaMarca said Tuesday night. “I went to prom here, I participated in band, I was a majorette, I remember struggling through chemistry class, what a challenge.”
Delfin, a Dayton resident, was asked by Trustee Nona McFarlane at the end of his interview session on Wednesday if he planned to move with his family to Churchill County.
“Yes; the question is when,” Delfin replied. “When we bought (a home) in 2007, we bought high and then the real estate market dropped, so it will be a matter of being able to sell … I still need to be a good steward of my family’s finances.
“I want to assure you, I will still be visible and I will do my job in communicating. What you get from me will be not someone who lives in Dayton, but someone who lives in Nevada and has lived in Nevada since 1991. I understand politics in Nevada, and I am committed to the students of Nevada.”
Sheldon has been superintendent of the Warden School District in Warden, Wash., since 2006. The last of the three candidates interviewed Wednesday night, she was asked by Trustee Greg Koenig, even though she is already a district superintendent, what motivated her to apply for the Churchill County opening.
“I really feel I’ve done good work there and I’d have no problems staying there … the community and people are great,” she responded. “But I enjoy challenges and I’d like to take on a new district. I heard about this position — and I saw the Washoe County (superintendent) position last year — I really feel I could make a difference here.”
During the Tuesday town hall meeting, Sheldon was asked to describe her leadership style.
“My leadership style is to lead from the heart,” she said. “What that means, it’s important to work with people and put people first, to validate them … what their values are and to try and understand where they’re coming from … to be a people person and enjoy them, and keep the focus on the kids first.”
Sheldon explained her passion for education during the town hall meeting.
“This is the best business in the world,” she said. “Where else do you have an impact 40 years down the road. Teachers impact eternity and no one knows where our impact stops.”
LaMarca echoed those words.
“Education is my life,” she said. “I have spent my life learning, and I have changed and grown through my experience in education.”
LaMarca used an illustration to state her goals to the town hall meeting audience. Those included:
“Give every student the education they need to achieve their goals.
“Help them find the confidence so they can do it.
“Support them in every way possible.”
Delfin described truth, trust and collaboration as keys to being a successful superintendent.
“To be the leader, you’ve got to be able to build truth, build trust and you’ve got to be ale to collaborate,” he said Tuesday night.
He provided an example of what he meant the next day when he addressed trustees.
“My two favorite smells in the world are sawdust and engine oil,” Delfin said. “That goes a long way toward describing my values, that working hard with you, not against you, builds trust. Where there’s a lack of trust, there’s a lack of communication and a lack of commitment. Without trust, you don’t have anything.”
Delfin took time to explain one of his concepts about teamwork.
“Getting it right team, or GIRT,” he said. “I need to get it right. I want to get the right team together. If we get it right, we’ll do it right.”
On the supplemental questionnaire, Sheldon responded to a question how she would collaborate involvement between the community and the school district.
“Schools are a reflection of the community in which they are located,” she wrote. “The school reflects family and community values and traditions that have been in place for generations. Because of this, it is essential to have parents and community members involved with the schools and assist in the direction of the education of their children. When the community and parents are engaged, students benefit.”
LaMarca recently returned from an 18-month mission to Ecuador for the Church of Latter Day Saints. Previously, she served on a mission to Albania. The opportunity to travel has enhanced her abilities as an educator, she added.
At the conclusion of her town hall presentation Tuesday night, LaMarca said she would “love the opportunity to do more than talk” about her role as superintendent of Churchill County schools.
“I have strong faith in this education system, I came through it,” she said. “I have seen the support the parents and teachers and administrators give to their children. This is a community that has real roots and they came to make sure their children have success, and I would be grateful to be part of that. This is a wonderful school district and I would be grateful for the opportunity to work with the quality people who live here.”