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New school boss ready to begin

Though Ralf Swenson doesn’t start his job as the new superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School District until July 1, he’s already started acquainting himself with his duties at the district office on Ridge Road.

Swenson, 51, a native of North Dakota, was the principal of Golden Valley High School in Merced for 14 years. He was hired as the superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School District in late May with a salary of $130,000 annually.

“This school district achieves at a high level,” Swenson said. “I don’t need to come and change this district. I need to build on the success that’s been occurring here.”



As the superintendent of the high school district, Swenson will work with the board of trustees of the district, who appointed him.

Swenson recently moved to his new house in Morgan Ranch in Grass Valley. His wife, an administrator with the Merced Union High School district, is trying to relocate to the area with a job.




To start with, Swenson wants to talk to “the people who make this district work.”

“I want to meet teachers, classified employees, and I want to listen to people in the community to make sure I have a clear picture of where the district is at today,” Swenson said. “Then I want to open the dialogue with people on where we want to go in the future.

“From my conversation with the board, it is clear that though we have so much to be proud of, it’s always best to see what our potential may be in the years ahead.”

The high school district “needs to raise the expectations on every student on campus” and prepare them for the 21st century workplace as well as for colleges and universities, Swenson said.

With his belief “in a horizontal organization,” Swenson said he wanted to “come up with some kind of strategy for people to give their input into the high school district.”

Swenson has already visited all the high school sites and is looking forward to meeting the students in August, he said.

Swenson has a bachelor’s degree in social science and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Dakota. He’s currently pursuing a doctoral degree in organizational leadership from the University of La Verne in Southern California.

Some of Swenson’s hobbies include reading historical novels – like the biography of Albert Einstein, which he’s perusing nowadays – listening to Blues, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Jimi Hendrix; watching movies, he’s a fan of Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, and Robert De Niro and hates horror movies; going to theaters and musical concerts; watching the Giants play; and indulging in digital photography.

“I have a track record of being a good leader,” Swenson said. “I’m very approachable. I believe we are all part of a team and good ideas can come from anyone.”

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To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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