Last board meeting tonight for CCSD Superintendent Sandra Sheldon
There’s a quote by American historian Henry Brooks Adams that perhaps best defines Sandra Sheldon’s passion: “A teacher affects eternity; no one can never tell where their influence stops.”
“Shaping the next generation is one of the reasons why I love this business,” said Sheldon, who’s worked the past 37 years in education.
Sheldon worked hard to shape the next generation of Fallon’s leaders as Churchill County School District’s Superintendent the last five years, and she will be recognized for that dedication tonight, June 27, at what will be her last school board meeting.
Along with other trustees, she helped connect Churchill County High School and Western Nevada College to launch the Jump Start Program for students to achieve an associate degree before graduating.
Gov. Brian Sandoval recognized Sheldon last year for initiating the program, followed by helping bring in the pre-kindergarten program at Northside Early Learning Center.
She also introduced Google Chrome Books to all schools and pushed for personalized learning with technology, highlighted by programs such as Eureka Math and Read Well that follow Common Core standards.
With that, the Competency-Based Education Network and Pilot Program launches this fall at Churchill County Middle School.
Opening up technology innovation to Fallon schools is one of the many accomplishments of which Sheldon is proud.
“It will open up many doors,” she said. “We work in a world that’s constantly changing. Being in a tech pioneer land, we have those programs to put our students in those places.”
On top of these additions, Sheldon also made many changes to school environments and courses of study throughout the years, but it wasn’t an easy journey. When Sheldon began her role in 2013 as superintendent, she stepped in during one of the most critical times: the board had to make a two-year decision to cut staffing and programs to save revenue, along with the loss of 600 students within the district, while also launching Common Core.
Coming from Warden School District in Warden, Washington, Sheldon was ready to breakdown the barriers.
Trustee Carmen Schank said Sheldon also entered when the state adopted Infinite Campus, a computer program that houses all the student grades and educational information and feeds that information directly into the state.
Schank said the Board worked together with Sheldon to keep the budget fiscally sound.
“Being a superintendent is not easy,” Schank said. “You cannot please everyone. She has been very strong in her leadership. Sandra always did what she thought was best for students.”
In order to save the district money and consolidate programs, Sheldon dedicated the budget to educational quality for students; she changed the elementary schools from housing grades to grade-level schools: Lahontan K-1, E.C. Best grades 2-3, and Numa grades 4-5.
She also was involved with the remodeling of the Old High School, the addition of the alternate gym, music room, track and field additions, and theater lighting, which utilized bond funding approved by the community with votes.
Trustee Tricia Strasdin said since aligning the curriculum and budgeting grade-level schools, the district has been seeing positive results.
“It’s not easy to do when we’re subject to open meeting law,” she said. “To be able to discuss this in public with a positive vision, and help board members analyze decisions is a daunting task. She tries very hard to work with board, and we’re thankful for her leadership.”
Strasdin added Sheldon’s enthusiasm to enhance features within the district has impacted the board; plus, Sheldon stepped back when it came to the hiring the new superintendent, Summer Stephens.
“She was extremely respectful of the process,” Strasdin said. “She had faith in her board and is doing her best to help the new superintendent transition.”
Trustee Richard Gent said Sheldon was a strategic fit for the board; the strategies were met with some concern, but as time progressed, the board is seeing fruits of implementing those strategic plans, he said.
“When Sandy first arrived in the district, she took a look at where we were at as far as the education protocols and studied how it was affecting student performance,” he said. “Based upon that knowledge, she made a strategic decision to implement some new teaching strategies.”
Prior moving to Fallon, Sheldon graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education/Special Education in 1980 from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. She then got her Masters at Eastern Washington University, and her Doctorate at Washington State University in 2011.
Throughout her career in Texas and Washington, Sheldon served as a special education teacher, director of special services, middle school teacher and a primary school principal. She became Superintendent at Warden School District after seven years serving as an Assistant Superintendent in Ellensburg, Wash.
Among other accomplishments at the other school districts, Sheldon partnered with local farmers to develop a 30-acre Career Technical Education farm and surrounding universities to initiate professional development opportunities for students. Similar to Fallon, she also implemented early Friday releases.
Sheldon also was a Delegate for the 2010 College Board-Chinese Bridge Education and traveled to China to tour schools and promote international partnerships. She serves in many organizations, such as the American Association of School Administrators and International Society for Technology in Education.
Although Sheldon had been qualified to retire for quite sometime, she chose to serve in Churchill County because she still felt passion burning inside of her.
“I appreciate the community of Fallon and what they’ve given to the district,” she said. “The school board’s vision on student achievement is commendable and I know they’re in good hands.”
With two daughters in Nevada — including Kristin Sheldon, the parent-community coordinator within the district — and a son in Las Vegas, Sheldon and her husband, Ehman, plan to spend more time with their three grandchildren and travel. Ehman also is a freelancer and photographer, and was a former City Manager in Normandy Park, Washington.
As Sheldon officially retires July 13 and passes the torch of superintendency to the appointed Stephens, there’s a memory she will always cherish.
“When you walk into a preschool classroom, you can’t help but smile,” she said. “Over the years of my career, I’ve been able to work at every level in the district. To watch kids develop from childhood, to seeing them walk across stage with a diploma — and to be a part of that influence, to help them find their dreams — is rewarding.”