With a glowing review under his belt, state school superintendent Jack McLaughlin is ready for the new year.
"It's exciting to look forward and know you have the legislative session coming up and 'No Child Left Behind' to put into place," he said. "Those are great challenges, and you look forward to helping everybody step through them."
McLaughlin, 61, was appointed to a three-year term as Nevada State Superintendent in 2001, bringing with him 35 years' experience in education.
The state board of education issued its annual review of McLaughlin on Dec. 14.
"Jack McLaughlin has made significant progress in elevating Nevada's public education system," said David Sheffield, president of the Nevada State Board of Education. "The board can look forward to continued positive contributions from Dr. McLaughlin. His leadership has served the state very well."
McLaughlin said he was honored by the review, but quick to share the praise.
"We're all trying to do our best in really hard times," he said. "The board worked together as a team, and I was proud to be a part of that."
Looking back over the past year, he said the highlight was the formulation of the iNVest (Investing in Nevada's Education, Students and Teachers) plan.
Each of Nevada's 17 school districts supported the plan and will present a unified front to the Legislature in the upcoming year.
The plan outlines the needs of educators and students.
"It's good to have everybody as much on the same page as possible," McLaughlin said. "We've all been trying to work together so we can move forward in the best interest of Nevada's students. We need to have the legislators join us so students can achieve at the highest level."
One of the greatest challenges he faces in the upcoming year, he said, is implementing the federal "No Child Left Behind" act, which holds individual schools accountable for student success.
"The basic premise is what we all believe in," he said. "There's some issue in how you actually make that happen."
He would also like to see a change in the way schools receive funding in Nevada.
"The funding structure has been outstripped by the growth in the state. There needs to be some restructuring."
But he said state leaders support educational goals.
"It's good to work in a state where the governor has been a school superintendent in the past," he explained. "That's a real plus for me. He understands our needs."
McLaughlin came to Carson City from Berkeley, Calif., where he served was superintendent of schools. He is the son of two educators, and he and his wife, Sheryl, have four grown children and three grandchildren.
He is committed to a 3-year term, but said he is willing to stay longer.
"If we're being successful, we'll just keep going," he said. "As long as the job stays fun and children improve in their learning, I'll go forward."