Choosing Carson: Schools' incoming staff greeted at Governor's Mansion

From left, CCSD staff members Carolyn Cook, Kari Pryor, Lacey Carey and Joanna Kaiser attend Carson City School District’s new hire event Wednesday in the Governor’s Mansion Larry Ruvo Stateroom. (Photo: CCSD)

From left, CCSD staff members Carolyn Cook, Kari Pryor, Lacey Carey and Joanna Kaiser attend Carson City School District’s new hire event Wednesday in the Governor’s Mansion Larry Ruvo Stateroom. (Photo: CCSD)

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Forty-six new teachers, social workers and counselors from Nevada and beyond are preparing for the 2021-22 school year in Carson City, all anxious to welcome back students and ready to put much of the pandemic behind them if they can.
They were gladly welcomed Wednesday in the Governor’s Mansion Larry Ruvo Stateroom during the Carson City School District’s new teacher orientation. For the incoming staff, the new year was launched in style by Superintendent Richard Stokes and administrators, principals and directors as a thank-you for choosing Carson City to teach, counsel or use their skills where applicable.
Merri Pray, stepping into a new role this year as professional learning and family engagement coordinator, organized the event.

Merri Pray, professional learning and family engagement coordinator. (Photo: CCSD) 

“We have a lot of new blood coming into Carson City from as far away as Texas and California … and we had one teacher who was teaching in Hawaii, so we’re very excited to work with these new educational professionals,” Pray said before the kickoff.
She noted for many of the new workers, last year’s pandemic likely resulted in personal and workforce reevaluation and created a desire for change. Carson is attractive for many of CCSD’s candidates with its proximity to Reno and Lake Tahoe, and the district offers a strong new hire program to help new employees become comfortable with district and school policies, she added.
“Instead of ‘Here’s your empty classroom with your stack of textbooks, go for it,’ we onboard the teachers to make sure they’re set up with a site mentor, a curriculum coordinator to help them get their computers, their keys and make sure they have what they need in their classroom, and I think that’s what makes our district successful,” Pray said.
Wednesday’s program encouraged teachers to tend to their mental health needs as mounting job challenges arise throughout the year, to establish personal boundaries and to refer to CCSD’s strategic plan before sending off the employees to their school sites.
But first, Superintendent Richard Stokes provided a warm welcome to the new staff, expressing his gratitude for making CCSD its new home for the year. He called on employees as the “fabric of the community” and leaders for becoming involved in students’ lives beyond classroom or campus walls.
“You’re following our kids, you’re going beyond what’s expected of you,” he said. “I see staff members at ballgames, at extracurricular functions such as at Little League games, I see you folks going to baptisms and weddings and christenings and all those things that are important to the lives of our family members here.”
Mayor Lori Bagwell shared with the group that Wednesday’s event was the first time she was able to greet a new class of teachers, adding she believed Carson City is among the few local entities to hold joint meetings with its city Board of Supervisors and school board.
“I hope you know we’re in this journey with you,” Bagwell told the new employees.
She also encouraged them to become mentors to students.
“You might be that first person that really inspires a child, and they’re going to be forever in your debt,” she said. “Just think that through and find that kid you might be a difference for. Thank you so much for being here and for choosing Carson City.”

Maddie Bowman, left, Meg Holroyd and Elise Johnson, new teachers at Carson Middle School, attend Carson City School District’s new hire event Wednesday in the Governor’s Mansion Larry Ruvo Stateroom. (Photo: CCSD) 

Julie Pomilia, who is starting as a kindergarten teacher at Empire Elementary School, is moving from Los Angeles with her husband, who is beginning in Douglas County’s Carson Valley Middle School as a physical education teacher. She said they decided it was time to get out of California to “live an easier life.” The couple is still making the transition to Nevada, living temporarily in Minden for now but eager to settle permanently soon, she said.
“We came here and we’ve been coming to Tahoe for 20 years on a ski trip, and we’d always look over the hill and think that looks nice down there,” she said.
Pomilia called the hiring process at Empire “amazing” and said she felt like the staff was family as soon as she walked in to be interviewed.
“It seems like a really great place to be,” she said. “Everyone I talked to loves it and I’m just very grateful to have gotten a job here and see what happens.”
Fellow Empire teacher Adrienne Wiggins, in her eighth year as instructional coach, said this past year her students missed seeing each other being separated by cohorts and looked forward to what the new year brings. She also had told other staff members there was something valuable about working for a smaller district like Carson.
“You don’t realize it’s so small, everybody knows everybody and it really is a family district,” she said. “When people talk to you from around the district, you know they care. I’ve always been here … but my guess is when the superintendent walks up to you and says, ‘How are you doing, Mrs. Wiggins?,’ that means something.”
School begins Aug. 16 for K-12 students in the district and Aug. 23 for pre-kindergarten classes.
For information, including schedules and back-to-school details, visit


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