Administrator joins NU district
Thursday was a historic day for Christine Clark, who spent her first day as Nevada Joint Union High School District’s new assistant superintendent in charge of instruction and personnel unpacking dozens of boxes.
For just the second time in her 26-year career, holding a meeting with her boss didn’t require a 45-minute freeway commute and a lengthy elevator ride.
A meeting with the principal of the district’s largest school? A simple walk through a parking lot to Nevada Union High School next door.
Clark, who has spent all but one of her 28 years in education working for the Los Angeles Unified School District, welcomes the chance to work closely with the Nevada County high school district’s top-level managers.
Clark replaces veteran high school district administrator Kurt Stenderup, who resigned his position this spring and will return to teaching at Nevada Union in the fall.
“Sometimes you get lost, and it’s hard to develop relationships with people,” Clark said of the mammoth Los Angeles school district, housed in a 33-story office building with entire floors dedicated to areas for which Clark will now be responsible from the confines of her office cubicle and small desk.
There will be other, subtle changes, too.
Prior to last year, when she served as an assistant superintendent for the Placer Union High School District in Auburn, Clark had never attended a school board meeting.
In her new job, Clark, 51, will be asked to routinely attend monthly school board meetings, where principals from Nevada Union, Bear River and Park Avenue high schools use the time to update school board members on minutiae, such as the progress on each school’s homecoming float and student club activities.
She will also have much greater access to the teachers and staff she will be working with.
In Los Angeles, Clark said, “I felt like I was always having to react to what was coming from above as opposed to having a two-way conversation, where I can explain the ramifications of how some decisions will affect the classroom.”
Like many in the teaching ranks, Clark is motivated by one-on-one interaction with students and staff, a skill she honed as both an athlete growing up in Glendale (“I played anything people threw at me,” she said) and as a coach of myriad sports during her teaching career.
Clark’s appointment caps an important transitory first year for Superintendent Maggie Deetz.
Deetz, who has more than 20 years of experience with the high school district, was named as one of a team of three assistant superintendents to replace Joe Boeckx, who retired at the end of the 2002-03 school year. Trustees in November gave her a three-year contract to lead the district. After a year in which Nevada Union hired two different principals to replace Margaret Christensen, trustees and Deetz hired Fortuna High School Principal Marty Mathiesen to oversee the 2,600-student school.
Deetz said these changes should produce positive results.
“I think we’ll see some changes in culture,” said Deetz, who clings to a three-pronged test of the district’s effectiveness in promoting learning, student achievement and teaching excellence.
“I think we’re ready to turn the corner from good to great.”
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