Growing up in a troubled home, Glen Adair found refuge at school. And in his recent battles with heart disease and colon cancer, school was again his refuge.
"School was the rock I built my life on," he said. "It has truly been the most rewarding job. Life doesn't get any better than this."
This week, he is being honored for the safe haven he's created for the thousands of students in his care as principal of Carson High School.
As part of National Education Week, the University of Nevada, Reno, selected Adair to receive the Achievement Award based on several nominations by his students and peers.
"It's humbling," Adair said. "There's an awful lot of good people who get up every day to do something positive for someone else. To be recognized by those people is very gratifying. I'm honored to be their recipient."
Adair, 58, has served as principal of Carson High School for 11 years. He previously was at Elko High School, where he worked for eight years.
When he was a high school student in Culver City, Calif., though, he would have bet everything against the idea of ever becoming a principal.
Although he involved himself in nearly every activity -- mostly sports -- to escape conflicts with his parents at home, he also spent much time in the principal's office.
But there were those teachers and coaches that made the difference -- the teachers and coaches he's tried to emulate.
Adair started out in the Air Force and, after his tour of duty, took a job with American Airlines.
"During that time, I wasn't unhappy," he said. "I just didn't feel personally fulfilled."
So he went back to school to become a teacher.
"I was always taken back to what got me where I was: school," he said. "I wanted to be like some of the guys I admired. I wanted to do what Culver City High School had done for me. They paid attention to me. They recognized my needs. They chided me when I didn't work to my potential. Yet they applauded what I did right."
It's the same philosophy he applied to his work at inner-city schools in Southern California, where he began as a teacher and coach and worked up to a counselor and vice principal.
"I just naturally progressed to where I thought I could have the most effect on the most students," he said.
From Southern California, he moved to Incline High School, then to Owyhee, Elko and Carson City.
His wife, Kathy, is vice principal of Eagle Valley Middle School and their two sons, Ryan, 22, and Jedd, 19, will both graduate from college in May.
In the past two years, Adair has undergone open-heart surgery and was diagnosed with colon cancer, which is now in remission. And he said he feels great.
"My strength comes from my wife and family and the energy in my life comes from the kids in this building," he said. "I truly believe if you wish to stay young, you stay healthy and you stay around young people."
And he has another reason to celebrate. After a lifetime of dreaming of owning a Corvette, he finally bought one -- he calls it "Carson blue."
And he just smiles when jibed about a mid-life crisis.
"I walk in my garage and just look at it sometimes," he said "It's one of those pinch-yourself kind of things. It doesn't embarrass me a lick."
Adair and Carson Middle School counselor Carol McQuirk and Seeliger teacher Carol Antila will be recognized at an award ceremony on Nov. 21 at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Carol McQuirk and Carol Antila, who also were recognized by UNR, will be featured in upcoming articles.