New trustee: Goal is to ‘keep my mouth closed, listen’

Matt Clapham

Matt Clapham

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Lyon County juvenile probation officer Matt Clapham knows youth who exhibit more challenging behavioral issues in or out of the classroom are lacking certain support at home. They’re held back from building positive relationships that keep them on track for success in either place.

Clapham is now using his experience as a Carson City school trustee, having won election in November.

“Everybody was like, ‘Come check it out,’” Clapham said. “I’ve been so appreciative of it. (The staff members) have made it so easy to get my feet wet prior to even coming on.”

Clapham said even receiving a list of books from Superintendent Andrew Feuling to dig into has helped get his transition into the trustee’s role off to a positive start.

Clapham, who took the District 3 seat, was born and raised in Carson City and graduated from Carson High School in 1997. Apart from a move to Missouri for six months, he’s always maintained his Northern Nevada roots as a Reno resident before moving to Carson in 2011. He married and had a son and began working in the juvenile detention center at 21, where he said it was his experience with the more difficult kids that he gained the value of building relationships with local teachers, deans and vice principals.

“In 2017, I decided I wanted to go back to the detention center,” he said. “At that point, I started feeling that disconnect. I wanted to be involved in the schools. … There are good people in the schools.”

His neighbor, former Trustee Stacie Wilke-McCulloch, who recently termed out after 14 years on the board, began suggesting that he run to help oversee the district’s policies, to listen to staff, parent and community member concerns about what takes place in Carson City’s classrooms and to represent CCSD at the state level.

But Clapham said his goal never was to come in and simply “fix anything.”

“My main goal is to keep my mouth closed, to listen, to learn and to support Mr. Feuling,” he said. “There’s a Bible verse that talks about too much talk that leads to trouble. Listen, be sensible and close your mouth. I think there’s a lot of validity to that. Sometimes we like to talk more than listen. Sometimes that gets people in trouble.”

Clapham, who also has a daughter, said he wants to support the district’s staff members through volunteering and regular school visits at Mark Twain Elementary School and other sites.

Clapham also recently met with department leaders such as Raymond Medeiros, director of innovation and technology, and Christine Lenox, student support services director, and had an opportunity to learn more about the school district’s functions and resources.

“There are a lot of smart people in this district who all have different roles, and they’re all experts in their own realm,” he said. “Just hearing about some of the things they have to do … like running fiber-optic … I didn’t even know that stuff exists and that’s (director Medeiros’) wheelhouse and he had to slow down because he’s so passionate about it. And (Lenox), I couldn’t believe how much responsibility she has, but she’s an expert in this field.”

Clapham said he appreciated everyone putting his mind at ease about the work being done to help students and staff.

“We put people in office and trust they’re going to do what’s best for us,” Clapham said. “And then, obviously, in our role we trust Mr. Feuling that he’s going to take care of us.

“I wish the general public would see how easy it is to be involved,” he said. “If you want to see what’s going on, go volunteer. If I have a concern, I can set up an appointment and see what they’re doing because they’re doing great things. … These kids walked me through this computer algorithm, and I don’t even know what they were doing. It was just cool these kids were doing that.

“I really appreciate the ease of what’s going on.”


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