Board interviews local candidates
Three local candidates appeared Wednesday in front of Churchill County School District Board as part of the interview process for the district’s superintendent position.
Churchill County High School Principal Kevin Lords, Lahontan Elementary School Principal Gregg Malkovich, and Director of Special Services Derild Parsons answered a series of questions from the board, regarding school safety, graduation rates, technology and community relationships.
Search consultant Greg McKenzie suggested interview questions for the board; each interview lasted an hour at the Churchill County Administration Building on Maine Street. Public comment also was allowed after the interviews, including an anonymous observation worksheet to submit.
On Thursday, six out-of-state candidates were interviewed. From there, the board will determine which candidates pass to final interviews, which will be announced next week.
Although he grew up in Battle Mountain and graduated from the high school, Derild Parsons wanted to build his passion in Fallon after living in town for 27 years.
His wife is a Churchill County High School alumni, as well as their two children, whom also were part of Western Nevada College’s Jump Start program.
Parsons also is a University of Nevada, Reno alumni.
As his career in education progressed in Fallon over the years, Parsons said he is familiar with the district and its concerns.
Parsons’ philosophy in education is parents, students and teachers are all part of the community.
“I would first meet with administrators in all school and district levels to come up with a shared understanding on what our roles are and how we can work together on the same page,” he said. “I would also tirelessly focus on filling my prior role and find a fit for District Director of Special Services.”
Parsons said the key to a safe school environment begins with the leaders of the district and appropriate procedures put in place.
“One of the nice thing about living in a small community like Fallon is we don’t have to worry about danger much,” he said. “But then, we do have to worry because of the open access.”
Parsons said students will often know about a dangerous event before staff does, thanks to technology and social media. But even then, students and staff need to know what to do.
In the next three to five years, technology is going to be even more crucial within the classroom, Parson said.
“Technology is a part of life and it always will be,” he said. “We hold devices in the palm of our hand more than we do with books at a library. We need to keep bringing technology in as most students will be going into technology-driven fields. But we have to make sure that we’re using it productively with our students.”
Parsons said he’s worked with many military students as families are based at the local Naval base. In fact, in his current role, it’s something he works with regularly.
“We have to support every aspect of their current education they received somewhere else,” he said. “It’s about filling the holes and gaps from their previous school. Some need special education and we have to support those families by showing them what we can provide.”
Current Principal of Churchill County High School Kevin Lords has a lot of proud moments and stories to share in regards to his career path in education.
One of those moments is during his teaching days, when a student would approach him at the end of the semester and thank him.
But his most memorable challenge and proud moment is when he started his first day of being promoted as Churchill County High School’s principal.
“In the first semester I was there, we suspended almost 70 students for fights,” Lords said. “The bell would ring every day and we would watch because the kids knew. At first I thought, I can’t do this.”
But after Christmas vacation, Lords asked the superintendent at the time for assistance.
“One of the attorneys in town said we had to arrest the kids,” he said. “It’s hard as an educator to see kids leave in cuffs. But when second semester started, we suspended 6 kids for fighting. Then, the culture of the school began to change and our athletics began to grow. We then made changes to the bell schedule. Our students are caring and polite. We have problems like every school but that was my biggest success.”
Lords said he wants current staff, faculty, and technology initiatives to continue progressing.
“I’m very open to input,” he said. “A great leader doesn’t always have to have the answers but they need to have good ideas when they hear suggestions.”
Lords said he would like to focus more on professional development with faculty, regularly meet with each department, and continue building community partnerships.
“I can’t implement everything myself and I’m not a perfect communicator,” Lords said. “But we have passionate people in the community who want to help. We have to use all forms of communication we have including social media, phone calls, emails, and Google Classroom for our students.”
Building a relationship with the community also leads to safety protocol opportunities, Lords said.
But procedures are different compared to elementary students and high school students — and a more efficient drill to fit all levels needs to be implemented, he said.
Lords said the high school met with a local fire marshal to update evacuation plans.
“The built in cameras work but we need connections with local law enforcement,” he said. “We need to install more lighting but I feel our elementary schools are secure. I would be a strong proponent of an armed resource officer on campus, but not arming our staff because of the close proximity and student access.”
The current Lahontan Elementary School Principal with more than 25 years of experience in the education industry is a family man that enjoys traveling.
But with family comes loyalty and trust — and that’s what Malkovich would especially emphasize if selected as superintendent.
“My goal would be doing my work outside of my office at least once a quarter,” he said. “We have smart people but the communication part has to pick up to be on the same page.”
Malkovich believes in creating communication modules.
“I encourage every principal and parent to talk. We need to be talking and communicating — we’re busy, but that’s why follow up is important and it needs to be in writing.”
Malkovich’s most proudest moment within the district is when he and his team created the Northside Early Learning Center. With tight community connections that helped him launch it, he hopes to do the same if selected as the next superintendent.
As far as security, it’s another forefront for Malkovich. “We have to keep updating it constantly and prepare our kids,” he said. “We need a safety person. We need someone in charge. Ensure every school is secure. I’d rather have that be a priority before we educate kids. Unfortunately, in today’s society, it’s not always safe.”
With achievement scores and graduation rates, it’s about assessing kids and studying their data.
“We need to get all schools at 5 star schools,” he said. “Take our strongest teachers to help each other. Our parents are key, so they can sleep at night.”
When it comes to budgeting district resources and student achievements Malkovich said to take a small amount of money.
“Keep it within the budget and you’re going to have to say no to some things,” he said.